And so, thank goodness for Brian Sloan, a sex toy entrepreneur, who has given the tradition an innovative and democratic makeover with his “World’s Most Beautiful Vagina” pageant, a crowdsourced contest wherein anyone with genitalia vaguely resembling a vagina can participate and anyone with Internet access can vote.
At the time of writing, thousands of men and women—priests, porn stars, and likely your office manager—are rating photo submissions on a “hotness” scale of one to ten (one being “not hot” and ten being “super hot!”).
A $5,000 grand prize goes to the women with the most popular vagina, who will also be flown out to Los Angeles to have her lady bits 3-D scanned and memorialized as one of Sloan’s sex toys. Second place will take home $2,500 and third gets $1500.
Best known for his blowjob-simulating Autoblow2, Sloan, 34, says customers have been clamoring for an update to the Autoblow2, with vagina sleeves instead of rubber mouths. “There are stock vaginas available at factories, but I thought it would be nice to deduce what kind of vaginal appearance my customers prefer and then design vagina sleeves based on their feedback,” he says. Since the contest’s June 18th launch, Sloan has received more than 150 vagina submissions, and nearly one million individuals across 20 countries have cast their votes.
Cynics may see this as a misogynistic (if undeniably brilliant) marketing ploy by Sloan. Indeed, Mic’s Nicolas DiDomizio sniffed that “determining what the ‘best’ vagina is...especially based on appearance, doubles down on the already pervasive judgment of women’s bodies by men,” while The Gloss’s Lisa Marie Basile declared the project “utterly creepy and sexist…objectifying...just ridiculous.”
But for those like me who have already spent an inordinate amount of time scrolling through and rating women’s genitals, the contest is also an opportunity to celebrate the vagina in all its varied expressions.
And there are many: some small and symmetrical, with only a sliver of protruding flesh; others meatier, with engorged clitori and labia splayed out like fish gills; still others like gaping wounds, a jumble of flesh blown apart by a hand grenade.
Pornography often gives preference to the small and symmetrical, which may account for a rise in the number of women undergoing labiaplasty for aesthetic purposes. But less isn’t always more.
Participants in the contest can keep track of their ratings, which, I imagine, might leave some women feeling discouraged. Not so, they tell me.
“You just have to understand that your vagina might not be attractive to all voters, but others may find it very attractive,” says Kia, 24, whose boyfriend encouraged her to submit her vagina because “he thought it would boost my confidence.”
Kia has previously only compared herself to porn stars, and has felt self-conscious that her vagina looks “stretched out” since she had two children.
“It makes me feel better knowing there are a lot of vaginas out there that look similar to mine,” she says.
25-year-old Odette Delacroix, an adult actress, porn producer, and fetishist (coincidentally, she is the only woman whose face is visible in her photo), says she thinks “every vagina is beautiful and unique, and it’s interesting to see some people have preferences just as they do with faces.”
“It’s almost like an art piece to see all the different submissions,” she adds. And she’s not going to “run out and get a face-lift on my vagina” if she doesn’t win.
“If there’s one thing that working in the fetish world has taught me it’s that no matter what you have--large labia, tiny tits, you name it--someone is obsessed with it.”
Sloan, meanwhile, is thrilled about all of the data he’s accumulated so far and has hired several PhD data scientists with whom he’s planning “the first proper scientific paper about vaginal appearance and preference.”
He declined to provide the names of these scientists, one of whom is an “oceanographic researcher,” he tells me, and wants to remain anonymous.
After voters have clicked their way through a highly varied world of vaginal aesthetics, the winner will be announced on July 10th. So far, no comment from Donald Trump.