The biggest post-puberty lesson that anyone born and growing up with a female body learns is that - she will always be body-shamed. The society and the media will continue to set standards of beauty which are either unachievable or beyond her control. One such impossible beauty standard involves the “camel toe” - a slang used to indicate the shape of the labia of some women. This concept embarrasses women and even affects their choice of clothes; though if you think of it, camel toes shouldn’t matter at all.

What is camel toe?

“Camel toe” is a term for the shape formed by the labia majora of some women, as visible from outside her bottom-wear. Since the outline resembles a camel’s forefoot, hence the term is used. It takes place if the labia of the woman is fleshy and bulging; pregnancy can also lead to the bulge. This anatomical factor, combined with the tightness of her bottom-wear that rides up the groin, can accentuate the outline of the labia.

What’s the problem with camel toes?

As mass media continually churns out new standards of beauty for women and imposes them on us, the concept of camel toe has seen the light of the day. Most women have never really bothered about it, until media decided to kick up controversies on the occasion of camel toe sightings in public, mainly in case of celebrities.

People are shamed for something that's normal for many women. It is seen as a fashion faux pas when in reality, it’s just an anatomical thing. VH1 had published an entire article on celebrity camel toes back in 2015, which they later pulled down from their site. The whole idea probably arises from the lack of knowledge about the female body, because, who cares about biology lessons, right? Often not those who grow up to set beauty trends, and sometimes, not even the teachers.

How do women get rid of noticeable camel toe?

To save themselves from embarrassment, women try to hide their bulging labia. They choose clothes that are loose or made of thick fabric. There are underwears specially designed to get rid of camel toes, available in the market. Some women choose to wear panty liners all the time to prevent any camel toe situation, even if that means being at risk of fungal infections developing in the moist vaginal area. In worst case scenarios, women even opt for labiaplasty, a surgical procedure which helps to minimise the outline.

Does it really matter?

On one hand, it is silly to bother about the natural feature of a particular part of the body. On the other hand, it’s disconcerting to think that women are shamed when a part of their body reveals their biological sex. Think about it this way: it is acceptable when a woman is commodified and presented on billboards in skimpy clothes. But when the harmless labial outline creates an impression of her body part from outside the clothes, the world gets unpleasantly critical. Is it because in case of a camel toe, she appears too comfortable about her femininity to hide the folds and bulges of her skin?

Yes, it is right to claim that the world needs to stop being grossed out by or making fun of camel toes. However, it shouldn’t matter at all how the world reacts to a part of the body that’s covered, and also beyond the control of the women. You should not be wearing shapeless clothes or avoid wearing a swimsuit to prevent camel toe. It’s almost incredible that people will stare at the intimate parts of the body of a woman so intently that they can make out the camel toe outline. Yet, all the vitriol and nastiness is directed towards the woman, instead of the creepy body police, and she is the one left with shame, self-consciousness, and discouragement.

Body positivity is a concept alien to most women because they are conditioned to believe that they have to look a particular way to be beautiful. It’s time to ignore what the world says about the body you’re gifted with. Have faith in the creativity of Mother Nature, and celebrate the exclusive body that you are born with!