A few years ago, whilst watching This Morning, Eve’s CEO Athena Lamnisos was struck by Holly Willoughby’s admission that she didn’t think she would ever get used to saying the word ‘vagina’ on TV when introducing an item on women’s health.
As a show that regularly covers a range of women’s health stories this seemed odd. A few years later, Get Lippy ambassador, Anita Mitra aka ‘the gynae geek’ was on the sofa and both Holly and Phil could say vagina with absolute ease. It seemed times have changed and the word vagina was/ is being normalised on day-time TV in the UK. A great step in breaking down the taboos around women’s health and allowing open conversations about women’s bodies, something Eve believes is essential for getting women to understand their bodies and feel comfortable talking about any abnormal symptoms when they arise.
This is when Athena got an idea, “Hiding behind silly euphemisms contributes to the idea that this is a shameful part of the body. It’s fine to use nicknames if you’re referring to something that you absolutely know what it is and where there’s no embarrassment (eg tootsies / toes or tummy / stomach) – but it really doesn’t help when you start talking about ‘your water works’ when you actually mean you’ve got an itchy vulva.
“The Get Lippy campaign is one of our national awareness and fundraising campaigns that makes the point about language and we created a film to highlight this with the brilliant musician Rhodri Marsden. It had over 30k views in its first few hours and it’s had hundreds of thousands to date.”
This June, Holly Willoughby shared the video with her followers, with the caption: “Yes! Let’s normalise the word vagina!… this is fantastic… @eveappeal although very funny it’s such an important message… xxx”. To date her instagram post has been watched 485,000 times!
This video is making a big impact, and Yougov research demonstrates exactly why it is needed. 50% of young women surveyed couldn’t accurately label a vagina on a diagram, and Get Lippy research found that 47% of GPs believe women not knowing the correct terminology for parts of their body could contribute to delays in a diagnosis of a gynaecological cancer. Clearly, language is important.
Reflecting on language, Athena said, “A normal question for a young child to ask is ‘where do babies come from’ – we need to be able to answer that question without creating shame or embarrassment and start to give children the knowledge about their bodies that will enable them to look after their health and know their bodies. Language really is important – this is so clearly evidenced in both surveys of woeful anatomical knowledge and from women who are affected by the cancers. You need to know your body, know your anatomy and know your normal so that you can get the medical help for a gynae sign or symptom when you’re worried.”
“The film has been a great way of normalising the conversation and underscoring why using proper language and anatomical terms without embarrassment, shame or confusion is absolutely vital.”