Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

Judith LeMaster

Reader 2

Jennifer Ma

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© 2014 Amanda N. Carter


There is a significant issue in society today regarding the lack of knowledge about and positive regard attributed to women’s bodies, but more specifically female genitalia. This is detrimental to women in that it causes us to see ourselves in a negative light, or to overly sexualize certain aspects of ourselves, which may lead to severe psychological damage (American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, 2010). The 1970’s Women’s Health Movement presented a way for women to get to know their own bodies in a way that was private from society in order to make their own judgments free from the pressures and input of the larger public: vaginal self-examinations. This study proposed a modified exam, a genital self-exam, as a way to counteract the negative attitudes projected on women’s genitals by giving women a chance to examine and decide for themselves. Participants were encouraged to practice mindfulness, a mental state achieved through focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly accepting one’s feelings, during the exam as accounts of the 1970’s vaginal exams suggest a mindfulness-like attitude was also adopted during exams. This was done by randomly assigning participants to either complete a self-exam or to not and then measuring genital self-image and satisfaction, sexual body esteem, and mindfulness. The results were largely non-significant, save a few interesting minor findings. However, there is evidence to suggest a biased sample; recommendations for further research in this area are suggested.

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