Mara Altman's book published by Individuum “The body is rubbish. Reports from the front (and from the rear)”translated by Katya Kazbek - she can also be found on Bookmate. In it, Altman talks about the relationship with his own body - and at the same time reflects on the standards of beauty and restrictions that society imposes on women, and why the topic of female physiology is still so taubed. We are publishing an excerpt from the chapter of the book on the camel's toe, the so-called outline of the vulva, visible in tight-fitting clothing.
One early fall, I was trying on cool pants at Macy's in Herald Square: black, skin-tight, from some trendy stretch fabric. The pants on my legs sat just fine, like maple syrup on a stack of pancakes. I patted my ass and began to whirl, humming "Tink-Tink". I got the pants jackpot! Then I turned to face the mirror and saw something terrible. Your groin.
My crotch sucked in a tiny piece of material, which is what I call camel toe.
I guess the crack was only visible to me. Man is his own worst critic. After all, this is not the Grand Canyon. I decided to leave the booth and consult with someone. Without showing my own doubts, I asked the saleswoman for her opinion. “I like the pants,” she said, curling her mouth and raising an eyebrow, “but I'm not sure it's the right choice.”
A week later, my friend and I were walking down Sixth Avenue when we spotted a blonde woman in tight sportswear with a notched groin. I asked a friend what she thinks about this.
“I condemn,” she replied. "I always condemn." She said that even an attractive woman cannot remain attractive when she has a camel's toe. “To begin with, I try to estimate the damage - something like an earthquake on the Richter scale. Maybe only the tip of a camel's foot is visible? Or are there two vaginal hills? Are the outlines of the underpants visible? If so, which ones? In general, you need to figure it out."
The friend rated the seen camel's foot at 5.8.
Two weeks later, I stood on a corner in the East Village while my dog sniffed the butt of another woman's dog. This lasted so long that it became embarrassing: willy-nilly, the hostesses had to pay attention to each other. We got into a conversation, and it turned out that this woman is the CEO and creator of a new lingerie brand called Camel No. This is a panties with a silicone insert that smooths out the contours of the vulva.
“They are not only for those who have a sagging and stretched vagina,” - the tall dog owner and brave fighter for the absence of folds in the groin Maggie Khan said this in such a tone that I myself thought: didn’t I have anything sagging there? “Everyone has a foot, and it is sacred,” the girl added. She was so familiar with the subject that she simply spoke "paw."
I was intrigued and asked for her card.
The foot is the outline of our sacred charms, which are hidden by tight-fitting clothes. Why are they all so outraged if they become noticeable?
Back home, I began to study her brand. It turned out that these are not the only panties against cameltoe. There is also Camelflage.
All my life I have not thought about paws. I always thought this: they just need to be avoided. But after these cases with the infamous snap, I thought. Continuous contradictions. The foot is the outline of our sacred charms, which are hidden by tight-fitting clothes. Why are they all so outraged if they become noticeable? I walk around town in short shorts with my butt sticking out and the contour of my vulva a crime in the fashion world? Some kind of nonsense. This whole situation made me feel like the perpetually bewildered comedian Jerry Seinfeld. What the hell with a cameltoe, huh?
To find out why people have such strong prejudices about the skin of the labia and what to do with the gap that occurs, I did a real investigation. Deciding that fashion experts should know exactly why the paw is so despised, I turned to Hollywood stylist and TV presenter Emily Loftiss. The mere mention of these two words made her uncomfortable.
“It just turns me on right away,” she said. "Maybe let's move on to the next topic?"
"So what?" - I did not calm down.
Loftiss was not clear. “It just can't be allowed - no way, never, no way,” she said.
I contacted the sportswear designers. Are there any tricks when creating leggings to avoid the camel's toe? But no one wanted their brand to be mentioned in the book in connection with the ill-fated hollow. Most did not answer at all. At least Lululemon's PR woman Adrienne Watson wrote: "With your permission, we would like to refrain from commenting." Another international brand agreed to comment on condition of anonymity. Typically, journalists are asked to do this when they fear political retaliation, jail time, or assassination.
In other words, the fashion world has completely rejected me.
I decided to turn to ordinary women: what do those who wear jeggings (denim leggings. - Approx. ed.) everyday? But whoever I spoke to, for everyone, the paw was just something to get rid of. One 35-year-old interviewee admitted to wearing panty liners as if they were a force field. Jessica, a 34-year-old Broadway dancer, complained that she was more prone to paws than others. “The theory is this: the foot appears because I have a trunk like this,” she said of her big butt. She believes that her pants, trying to cover her butt, are digging in the front. “So I always buy pants one size up,” she said. Another sufferer with chronic paws, 28-year-old Angela, has come up with a unique way to combat tissue encroachment on the perineum. “I move the big ones up a little, and I pull out the small ones a little,” she said of her labia.
"And what happens?" I asked. "Leveling the landscape, do you understand?" As she explained, every morning she has to build a wall of the labia to prevent the seam of the pants from getting inside. “This design is not enough for a long time,” she admitted. Tactically, this is terribly interesting (I did not even think about such innovations), but I wanted to remove another layer from the cover of the mystery surrounding the paw: why does everyone avoid it?
I needed a person who was ready to discuss the paw in all details and who devoted years to its philosophical and sociocultural significance. Yes, it's time to call Han from Camel No. She is clearly an expert in this matter. In the end, she built a career out of paw wrestling. Khan probably knew what was at stake when the pants betray us.
We met at Boulton & Watt, a trendy Manhattan restaurant. (The countertops are of shabby wood. Bare brick on the walls. Quinoa on the menu.) When I noticed her at the table, she stood up and whirled around her. “I specially put on the trousers so that you can see how my underwear works,” she said. Her black trousers were so tight they were glued to her legs. However, upon examining Han, I did not find any traces of genitals.
We not only hide our breasts in a bra so that a casual passer-by does not see a hardened nipple, but at such a pace we will also start wearing special panties to keep the labia
Han pulled her pants up. Nothing. I was delighted.
Over a glass of beer, we discussed how the phenomenon originated from which her thriving business grew. A hundred years ago, the phrase "camel's foot" meant only one thing - the paw of a one-humped or two-humped animal that is found in desert regions. Two social changes have given the phrase a new meaning.First, women began to wear pants - and some were so tight that the outline of our anatomical structure became visible. Secondly, Brazilian hair removal has become fashionable. “Pubic hair used to keep the seam from getting stuck inside,” Han said. "Now there is no such obstacle."
I always suspected that we did not value pubic hair enough. On them not only soap foams like on a washcloth; there are other benefits that we are not talking about. When I depil everything there, the stream of urine becomes like a broken spray bottle. The fluff directs the stream, allowing you to write accurately and accurately. I, of course, did not mention this: it is unlikely that a woman with a height of one meter and eighty with a Barbie figure and hair like polished obsidian will have anything to say about floundering bodily functions.
“But why a camel? It's the same ugly animal, Han mused. - Couldn't you be named after something nicer? A koala's foot, for example?"
“Fair comment,” I replied.
“Society loves it hard for us,” she said. In her experience, the idea that some crotches are more prone to the foot is a big misconception. The paw is equally likely to occur in any owner of the vulva.
“The wrong clothes are to blame,” she said, “not that someone is nasty and saggy.” Mothers call her and start explaining why they need branded panties. “I say: 'Listen, dear, you don’t need to tell me about the children who blabbed everything out there. I have no children, I am tall, no one has blabbed anything to me - and I still suffer. " Then Khan slammed her palm on the table, expressing the degree of her shock: "I can't believe what measures women take to get rid of the paw." Some people undergo labiaplasty, she says, by removing parts of the outer and / or inner labia surgically. I knew about such an operation, but my head could not fit that because of the paw someone was ready to go under the knife. “You don't need to give anyone anesthesia. Need to do like Dr. Scholl (brand of insoles. - Approx. ed.)", - she said.
Han did not do this out of a desire to cut the money. She believed that her invention promoted gender equality, like Gloria Steinem. Her panties allow women not to get hung up on their appearance and focus on business. “I want women to be free,” she said. - Instead of suddenly shouting in the middle of kickboxing classes: 'Damn, this paw again!'
The longer we talked, the more I was perplexed. It's great that Han tried to solve the problem by giving women peace of mind where there was sheer anxiety. And yet this could not but anger. We not only hide our breasts in a bra so that a casual passer-by does not see a hardened nipple, but at this rate we will also start wearing special panties to keep the labia closed.
“What if this is another rule that is imposed on women? I asked. "Don't you think so?"
Copyright © 2018 by Mara Altman
Photos: Pam Walker - stock.adobe.com