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The Happy-Go-Lucky World of Pussy Ratings

You've heard of rating bodies, faces and dicks, but labias are the latest rating trend to shoot for a perfect 10

For as long as 33-year-old Brandy can remember, she’s been insecure about the way her labia looks. Not because anyone’s ever said boo about it, but because of the way people talk about ones that look like hers. Slightly asymmetrical with long lips and a pronounced clitoral hood, they differ from the small-lipped “innies” common in porn. Once, an ex referred to her labial doppelganger as “beef curtains.” 

“Do I have a nice pussy?” she asked a more recent date, peering down at him between her legs. 

“It’s, uh… pretty nice,” he replied, hesitating just a touch too long for comfort. 

Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. She closed her legs, pushed him away and pulled the sheets over her head. 

The next day, she considered posting a snapshot of her labia to r/pussyrating, a subreddit where discerning connoisseurs rate user-submitted pussy pics on a scale from 1 to 20. Having stumbled across it days earlier during a dead-eyed 1 a.m. Reddit binge, it seemed like a pretty straight shot at validation. She was feeling down, and like many people who post nudes to Reddit, she wanted the random objectivity of strangers to perk her up. Plus, it looked like similar labia were getting pretty hot ratings; one, a so-called “outie” with longer lips than hers, had racked up numerous perfect 20s. 

“There’s a certain comfort in knowing where you stand,” she tells me. “I want to know what people really think, and a number is as straight-up of an answer as you can get.” 

A lot of people on Pussy Rating seem to feel that way. An increasingly popular sub with more than 200,000 members, it’s home to a glistening cornucopia of labia whose biodiversity is rivaled only by the more expansive kingdoms of the phylogenetic tree. Logging on is like boarding a vulva-themed Noah’s Ark: There are big labia, small labia, lopsided labia, colorful labia, hairy labia and labia with toys. Basically, if it’s a labia, it’s on there. There are so many types of pussies on the sub — and so many people wondering where theirs stand — that its sidebar offers a guiding question to help orient users to their newfound surroundings: “Which are the most favored, by who and why?” 

Had you asked Brandy that question several days ago, she would have said it was the so-called “porn pussy.” Like many people, she’d been convinced that the smooth, symmetrical, tucked-in vulvas of mainstream porn were the more desirable type, and upon comparing them to her own set, had decided she was deficient. Plenty of others have done the same, and to varying degrees. One 2016 study found that over half of general practitioners in Australia had consulted patients about surgery to make their lips smaller, and labiaplasty to get a “Barbie slit” has become the fastest-growing cosmetic surgery in the world. People with these “porn pussies” don’t get off scot-free, though; smaller-lipped people are accused of being “fake” or “surgically enhanced,” and are often described as having “less to play with.” You can’t win! 

With this in mind, you’d think a pussy-rating subreddit where strangers subject vulvas to those same exhausting beauty standards would be just as toxic, but strangely, it’s just the opposite. For Brandy and the many other people who post photos of their vulvas for mass appraisal, ratings are a way to challenge these norms, not uphold them, and the difference has everything to with asking for that kind of attention at a time when they’re ready and willing to hear an opinion. 

“It’s the feeling of being seen and considered,” says Brandy, explaining the appeal of a rating. “It’s much different than getting swiped on an app or checked out at the store — in this case, you’re inviting people to look at you and telling them what kind of response you’re looking for. It’s fascinating to find out whether they see the same things you do.” 

Plus, she continues, it’s kinda hot. A long-time exhibitionist, she’s thrilled by the thought of serving herself up on a digital platter for thousands of eyes to dissect. There’s tension in that fixation; a perverse satisfaction in capturing someone’s attention long enough to be contextualized and categorized in their brains. 

This, of course, is part of the appeal of all body-rating culture. Tool around on Reddit and beyond, and you’ll find entire communities dedicated to the fine art of face, body, boob, feet and dick rating, all of which are based around a heady concoction of showing off and self-improvement. For the most part, people either want affirmation or genuine feedback, both of which transcend the conversations they’re able to have about themselves in everyday interactions. “You can’t really ask your partner to deconstruct your entire vulva bit by bit,” says Brandy. “That would come across as self-absorbed or overly insecure. But with internet strangers who are already signed on to do that, it’s so much easier to be like, ‘How’s my pussy, kind sir?’”

It was only a matter of time before OnlyFans creators started offering pussy ratings as part of their standard fare, too. Dani, a 26-year-old OnlyFans model in Berlin, offers free pussy evaluations to her subscribers on a 1 to 10 scale, but she charges a few extra bucks for a more detailed analysis, video ratings or custom video responses. And while she says pussy ratings are nowhere near as popular as dick ratings, they’re getting there, and there are “definitely” people willing to throw down to have their labia appraised.

These customers almost never tell her why they want a rating, but like Brandy, Dani believes it’s not to escape the judgment they feel in their daily lives. Their bodies are already being analyzed and judged on a microscopic level, she explains. When they ask for scrutiny, a self-submitted photo is just a fun, adventurous way to control the narrative. 

The thing is, people don’t always scrutinize pussies like they do other body parts (not on Pussy Rating, at least). Although the sub’s commenters have personal preferences and a few are vocal about calling out things they don’t like, there’s truly no “preferred pussy” on the sub, and its elite, top-rated selections are just as diverse as its main fare. Both big- and small-lipped labia top the charts, and while some pussies definitely look wetter than others, there’s no obvious proclivity for that, either. The only major predilection people seem to have is that the pussy is hairless, not because bald is a superior haircut, but because it makes the labia easier to see.

This is what makes pussy ratings so crucially different from face, dick and body ratings. Despite conventional beauty standards having created a totem pole of “desirable” traits for other body parts (big dick, big boobs, big butt, tiny waist, etc.), pussy preference appears to be so idiosyncratic that it’s impossible to say which kind is “best.” Unlike ratings on other subs that tend to be either scathing or extraordinarily detailed, Pussy Rating submissions seem to rack up short, sweet and mostly positive appraisals, with the vast majority of them landing a perfect score regardless of how they look. 

It turns out, the whole game of Pussy Rating is seemingly to make people feel good. Fiona, a pseudonymous queer 26-year-old in Florida who frequents the sub, says she rates nearly every labia she sees as a perfect 20 because she “knows how hard it is” and it “warms the cockles of [her] heart” to think she could make someone’s day. “My ex used to be super insecure about her long lips,” she tells me. “I loved them myself, but I found it so unfortunate that she felt that way. Big-lipped ladies need to know we love them too!” 

But that’s exactly the glitch in the pussy matrix. As multiple studies have shown, people are more likely to rate things at the more extreme ends of the spectrum than to thoughtfully consider where on the scale their tastes might actually lie, which means that all those perfect 20 out of 20 scores might not be so honest after all. To wit, there’s a spin-off subreddit called r/RealisticPussyRating, a barely trafficked option for those looking for candor, not compliments (which, it appears, is nobody). 

Actually, that’s why Brandy hasn’t posted yet. After lurking on the sub for a while, she noticed it was a little too “sunshine and buttercups,” and she worried she wouldn’t get the honest opinion she craved. She also worried about its rules and moderation. Somewhat concerningly, the only moderators of Pussy Rating are a single redditor and a weird bot — neither of whom responded to requests for comment — and because of this, it’s difficult to tell how regulated the sub is, whether there’s any sort of photo verification process or if the photos are being posted consensually. In fact, according to the sub’s sidebar, the only rules seem to be that users be kind, offer specific suggestions with their ratings and don’t post promotions. This puts the crucial concept of “I asked for this rating!” into question. Can we really be sure everyone on there is looking for a boost of confidence or an honest opinion? 

Right now, it’s impossible to tell. 

What’s much clearer is that there’s no answer to Pussy Rating’s sidebar question, a somewhat surprising conclusion to a conversation about labial aesthetics. As Fiona says, “The more pussy you see, the more you realize there’s no such thing as normal. And really — it all feels the same in your mouth.” Perhaps that’s why my colleague Madeleine Holden recently pointed out that it’s not so much the appearance of a pussy that earns it high marks, but the physical, emotional and spiritual energy it conveys. 

Still, if you’re looking for validation or a thrill, there’s little harm in knowing that the internet appreciates what you’re working with, which is why Brandy plans to post a photo of herself somewhere, if not on Pussy Rating. “I already feel so much better looking at all these labias and reading all the comments,” she says. “I’ve literally been drowning in pussy, and I’ve never been happier.”

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