Look, the human body is capable of some incredible things, but every now and again, you're told something about your own body that's simply flat-out not true.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment/Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate Television / Via media.giphy.com
Recently, Reddit user u/Psycho_Bunny_Cutie asked, "Women of Reddit, what is a lie about your bodies that you later found wasn't true?" Here are a few interesting responses, plus some extra from the BuzzFeed Community:
1."I’d like to add nipple hair to this discussion. It’s completely normal for women to have nipple hair, and I never thought twice about it until a male coworker made a comment about his ex-wife having them and thinking it was gross. It made me aware and a bit self-conscious about the few I have, and I will shave them off every so often."
2."That all vaginas are PINK! Or that all vaginas are supposed to be pink. They can be an array of colors, and some even have multiple colors. I mean, of course, check with your doctor if you think something is off, but women have different colored vaginas; they aren't all rose-pink. Mine, for instance, is more of a mauve-pinkish color with some blotches of brown here and there, especially the inner labia. Sorry for the visual, but if you're a teen reading this thinking your color is not OK, IT'S OK! Brown, pink, mauve, slightly purple, all OK!"
3."The one I see perpetuated the most is that the only body type that is attractive is the underweight one. Very few women who are of a genuinely healthy weight are shown in ads or onscreen. It's to the point many people have a limited frame of reference of what real body types or a healthy person should look like."
4."Most women are led to believe that lying on your back is the best position for giving birth."
5."Bras shouldn't hurt if they fit properly and are the right size. Most women are wearing the wrong size bra, which is what causes them to be uncomfortable."
6."A few years ago, people started saying that a hymen can actually grow back after it breaks if you don't have sex for a while. This isn't true, but that doesn't mean that the importance that a lot of people put on an unbroken hymen isn't still absolutely ridiculous."
7."Before I had my period, no one ever told me the hole that you pee out of and the vagina are different. Naturally, when I tried a tampon for the first time, I tried (unsuccessfully, thankfully) to put it in the wrong hole."
8."That clits are NOT just that pea-sized little nub above the labia. Holy fuck, are they not. They wrap around the fucking vagina, and it is a crime against women that this vital part of our anatomy has not been taught to us."
"The clit is so much bigger than you think. I don't know why we were told it was just this little thing."
9."That my breasts were deformed because my nipples pointed down and not forward or up."
10."When I was an early teen, I didn’t know women could orgasm, only because men orgasming is the focus in media, and I had never heard about a woman doing it before."
11."For me, the biggest one has been breastfeeding. Even my own mother told me, 'Nothing is more natural in the world.' Breastfeeding was very difficult and traumatic for me; I switched to exclusively pumping because my baby wouldn't latch. I felt like such a failure for so long. But then, I saw my baby gaining weight and growing up just fine!"
12."'Only women that have given birth can have uterine prolapse or pelvic problems.' Yeah, no. Anyone with a pelvic floor can have pelvic floor dysfunction, and women can have prolapses without ever giving birth."
"That 'pelvic pain in women is normal.' I got diagnosed with endometriosis and a large ovarian cyst several years later."
13."If you sleep with too many men, you get 'stretched out.'"
14."Not a lie, but the common misconception that the bleeding we experience on birth control is our 'period.' I was in my mid-30s when I learned this. It blew my mind; the crazy things we put the female body through and the inequities of the topic."
15."I had a male OB-GYN tell me, as I vomited in his office at 16 weeks pregnant begging for more Zofran, that morning sickness doesn’t exist past the first trimester and this was all in my head."
16."For the amount of importance that's put on its existence, it's insane to me that no one bothered to mention that not every girl is born with a hymen, and it's totally normal."
17."My mom was obsessed about my weight growing up. As a teen, I was told, word for word, that, 'No man will ever love you with your fat rolls and stretch marks.' For clarity, I was 100% NOT fat as a teen. Not even a little. (I am 38 now, and I am a chunky woman though.) My mom was and is just one of those people that believe the thinner the better. I was forced to come home every day from school to eat a lean meal that she made, and then food was withheld for the rest of my day. It's probably why I am fat now. Don't get me wrong; my mom is a great mom, and I think she feels bad now because it damaged our relationship, but she was taught men only wanted tiny women so that's what she tried to make me. I broke that toxic circle by eating and not having kids though."
18."I was literally talking to my boyfriend last night about how they say you want babies more as you get older, but I seem to want kids less every year that passes. I've never particularly liked babies/kids, but I was at least able to picture myself having them one day when I was 25. Now, just shy of 30, the desire to have them is almost completely gone for me. I have several other friends my age that have decided recently with their significant other that they will not have any kids."
19."That women can't shave their faces, and instead must use dangerous, expensive, and painful methods (waxing, bleaching, plucking, etc.) to remove or hide facial hair. Ugh."
20."That women's periods sync up."
21."When I was I was 16, my first serious boyfriend made a comment about my boobs (areolas) having bumps. I was self-conscious about that FOR YEARS! My husband always jokes about me not knowing it's pretty common, but it doesn't bother me anymore! I love my ladies."
22."How about the lie of omission that women need to clean under our clitoral hoods? I didn't learn about this until I was 28 and googled reasons for itchiness. Apparently, we need to pull back our little hood and rinse under it with water."
23."That bleeding to the point of passing out and having periods for 10+ days every two to three weeks at 12 years old was 'normal' and that I was just 'unlucky.' I'm almost 29 years old, and I just recently found an OB who believes I have endometriosis. YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BETTER THAN ANYONE. If you think something is wrong, get a second, third, or fourth opinion. However many it takes. You do NOT have to feel miserable your entire life just because some doctor doesn't believe you."
24."The myth that every woman wants a baby and glows while pregnant. No, not everyone wants a baby nor should everyone want a baby, and we should be trusted to know our minds and bodies and not be judged or told that we will change our minds. I hated every single second of being pregnant. It was uncomfortable, and labor and delivery were worse."
25."That your labia 'smells/tastes bad' (said by men who don’t want to give you oral sex). I’m not saying people can’t be unhygienic, but I used to shower, wax, and clean myself to an insane degree because I believed this. It turns out those men were just utter assholes who loved to receive blowjobs but didn’t want to reciprocate. (And I’m happily married now for several years, and my husband can’t get enough of me.)"
26."You can only orgasm through penetration."
27."I suppose this was part of the pro-chastity message and that women's value is placed on their virginity, but I was told that women who have sex get a lot of acne."
What's a lie you believed about your body for way too long? Let me know in the comments!
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.