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Under the Underwear


Alma Lion

About Design track

Mentor — 

Aya Bentur

You have an arm, you have a leg, you have a vagina. The complexity of the perception of feminine sexuality is reflected in language. This project examines the vagina as a test case for claiming that our language shapes the ways we perceive reality. I examine the disconnectedness encouraged by society between the woman and her body and sexuality. It is articulated in language, and what is absent from it, and present in social representations, particularly in aspects that remain unrepresented. Thus, there is social embarrassment around names for the organ, and instead of the proper term vagina, people often use words such as “pussy”, “foo foo”, or “down there”. Thus, many issues related to the organ, such as pubic hair, smell, shape, and masturbation remain taboo. 

The concealment and the terminological inaccuracies deriving from it do not remain strictly social phenomena, but have a profound effect on the individual woman. For example, the inaccuracy of using the word period instead of menstrual cycle makes women ignorant about their bodies. I believe this requires individual, social and political remedy, and that such a remedy will promote gender equality. I also believe that actions taken today at an advanced age are insufficient, and that the issue must be addressed in younger ages. Therefore, I seek not only to examine the aforementioned disconnectedness, but also to reconnect. 

Inspired by this approach and informed by the understanding that language shapes reality and design shapes reality, I studied how the vagina is represented among girls aged 5-6; the way they (and their families) perceived it and talked or avoided talking about it. I interviewed professionals and met with mothers and girls who experienced the various products of the research as it unfolded, as well as examined available alternatives that make gender aspects accessible to girls. The outcome of this study is a cloth book containing a game adapted for these ages. The book and the game provide an encounter with the vagina’s contours, complexity and variety, serving as a basis for open and safe discourse between the girl and her parents, and provides tools for reducing the embarrassment that accompanies the subject. 

I hope that this game tool will enable girls and women to feel more at ease when talking about their bodies, and even more importantly, to feel at ease in their bodies. Let us make the vagina more accessible at a younger age. Let us not correct wrongs in retrospect, but prevent them.

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Alma Lion

Alma Lion is a designer and artist. She has a B.Des. with honors in jewelry design from Shenkar and is currently studying for her M.Des at the Bezalel Department of Industrial Design. She teaches in an eyeglass design course at Shenkar’s Jewelry Design Department. She has presented in exhibitions in Israel and worldwide, winning the Arts Thread x Gucci Prize and the Marzee Graduate Prize in 2021. Her jewelry collection is sold at the MUZA, Museum of Eretz Israel store and at Marzee Galerie in the Netherlands. Alma’s work as a multidisciplinary designer expresses an individual perspective that sheds light on the relations and mutual influences between environment, society and body, and the way they are expressed in design as language and action.

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