Have you guys heard the one about the woman who made yogurt from her own vagina? No? Well then let me tell you a story that begins with the word "flora" and ends with the internet collectively losing its shit because a woman did something with her vagina and talked about it.
This is what happened: Cecilia Westbrook, a scientist, has always wondered whether yogurt could be produced from the natural flora that populates the vagina. So she decided to try to make some. I'm going to leave the "how" to your imagination, but when I spoke to Westbrook on the phone today, she told me it involved a spoon and agreed that the whole ordeal was "uncomfortable." She tasted the yogurt and then told her friend Janet Jay about it, who then wrote a very visceral piece about the concoction for Motherboard.
Here's a description of the taste, from Jay's article:
Her first batch of yogurt tasted sour, tangy, and almost tingly on the tongue. She compared it to Indian yogurt, and ate it with some blueberries.
And here's another beautiful illustration:
For what it's worth, Westbrook said her second batch tasted even more tart, like slightly-spoiled milk—proof that sadly, eating yogurt made from vaginal secretions isn't quite the same as eating actual pussy.
Westbrook says she expected that the whole idea might not have been very healthy, a fact confirmed by the FDA. But she carried out the plan in August and is currently fine, though she did agree that "Woman Killed By Ingesting Own Vagina" would have made for a damn good headline. What Westbrook didn't expect, however, is people losing their minds over the fact that she did this experiment, something she says is at least "a little gendered." She asks, earnestly: Would we be so disgusted if a guy did something like this?
I'll be honest here. Yes, the idea of vaginal yogurt is inherently gross and probably makes lots of us uncomfortable (including me, mainly because I was eating a yogurt while I was reading the story). No one's denying that. But what Westbrook saw, in tweets and in comments on Motherboard and Mommyish, was people calling her "mentally ill" and comparing her to anti-vaxxers. It was a little too much for a woman who just decided to see whether or not making her own vaginal yogurt was possible. Is that really so bad? Especially considering that if nothing else, Westbrook did this very scientifically?
Westbrook says she did a lot of research before attempting to make her own cream-on-top breakfast delight. She looked up what was in vaginal flora and realized very quickly that no one really knows what's going on down there:
"I was actually surprised to know that we really don't know a lot about vaginal flora. There's really been only one or maybe two big studies and interestingly, most of the information that we do know about is from white women, which suggests that there might be some indication that people from different ethnic backgrounds might have different flora. I was surprised about how much we didn't know."
Westberg says she expected the reaction to include the words "weird" and "quirky," but didn't expect any outraged backlash. In fact, after she read Twitter and the comments on a few blogs, she decided to shut that whole business down. But she's disappointed with the internet's disgusted reaction to her fermented vaginal secretion:
"I guess I'm sad that people are so grossed out by vagina because people think that semen cookbook is kind of silly, but the tenor of comments here have just been 'who would even do that' and 'why' and 'this is terrible' and 'that's just gross." And it's kind of hard not to feel like that's a little gendered.
"It's your own body, and I think that one thing that was really interesting to me was that there are probiotics that people sell to women to balance their flora and all those cultures come from dairy or other sources, but you have bacteria specifically adapted to live in your vagina and no one knows anything about it. People just seem really grossed out by the fact that stuff lives in there. But it's natural and part of your health. It seems weird to be grossed out about it. It's weird we don't know much more about vaginal flora than we do considering how important it is."
Despite all that, however, Westbrook probably won't be making this type of yogurt again: "I don't have a huge agenda," she says. "It was just a fun thing to try."
Who else is game?
Image via Shutterstock