According to the co-founders of this tongue-in-cheek feed, ‘Almost nothing is not a pussy’
If you can look at the world around you and see vaginas everywhere, then some (I) might say you’re a lucky person. If you look around and don’t see vaginas everywhere, then there’s an Instagram feed to help you out. @Look_At_This_Pussy is the brainchild of Los Angeles 20-somethings Eva Sealove and Chelsea Jones. Beginning in 2014 as an inside joke, the account now boasts more than 57k followers with the tagline “almost nothing is not a pussy” – and one glance at their feed will prove that. From folded napkins to flowers, caves and ravioli… the beauty of the pussy is all around us if you open your eyes, or your Instagram app. We met the duo and attempted to tap into their wonderful way of seeing the world.
Why did you begin Look At This Pussy?
Eva Sealove: We started texting each other pictures of yonic objects and saying 'Yo! Look at this pussy!' We joked about starting an Instagram and one day one of us just did it. It grew organically into a dually visual and textual project.
Chelsa Jones: It wasn't our first foray into parody accounts, but rather our first successful one. It was a fun game to us to point out how overtly yonic many objects are, which we often described as 'sopussy', and it grew from there.
What's your favourite submission you've ever received?
Chelsea Jones: We both gravitate toward images that are visceral or unexpected. It's heart-warming to experience the engagement people have with the concept, and we cherish the kind words about the project that often accompany submissions.
Eva Sealove: All pussy is very special! Impossible to pick a favourite! It's incredible what our followers find out there, we really appreciate and love them all (please stop sending us pictures of your dicks).
How many submissions do you receive, say, on a weekly basis? How do you decide what makes the cut?
Eva Sealove: Our DM is absolutely filled with pussy. We get between 20 and 60 submissions per day. I look for something unexpected and visceral.
How many times a day do you see vaginas in everyday objects? Has your brain just been conditioned to see them everywhere now?
Eva Sealove: Almost nothing is not a pussy.
Have you ever had issues with Instagram's image guidelines?
Eva Sealove: We posted a photo of a rose with a caption that celebrated the Supreme Court's legalisation of gay marriage in the US and it was removed... appalling. We work in visual euphemism so we typically fall outside of the jurisdiction of the body shame police and luckily it's only happened once. I still operate under the assumption that every post lives on borrowed time. The reaction is part of the story, censorship is revealing.
Chelsea Jones: I think we're both surprised that we haven't run into more censorship, even though we are protected by the visual euphemism of LATP. @Instagram you whack for the rose, though.
What is the general reaction from followers/lovers/haters on Instagram?
Eva Sealove: We get DMs and comments every day from people who appreciate the content. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the support. Some people who dig us are into it for the visual one-liner thing and others really engage with the messaging and we love all of them. We get people asking us for advice in our DMs for real-life problems which is SO sick to me. It's also incredible when people post screenshots of our captions. The haters are fewer and more far between than you might think, mostly and predictably they are idiots who think we are 'dirty' or who would rather we posted pictures of pussy and STFU with the feminist bullshit.
We've been both lauded and criticised for 'desexualising' the vagina, which is actually not what we are trying to do. We are not seeking to de-sexualise a sexual organ: we are pro-sex and pro-pleasure and pro-expressing yourself. Females do not need to be de-sexualised, which is also to say that we do not need to be further fetishised.
A common misconception is that we are misandrists – we are not! Misandry can be a funny, rhetorical strategy but not an ethical political position. Be a human!
We have been criticised for being an essentialist project with an anti-trans message. This is not our intention whatsoever. No one project can be everything or represent everyone completely, nothing is everything. We feel strongly that it is unethical to speak for anyone but ourselves as individuals, and we are both cis women. We're working in visual euphemism which does the work of locating identity away from the body and away from biology, which we see as an anti-essentialist action in and of itself. We are deeply suspicious of any assumptions about gender that are based on biology and seek to interrupt and break them open; it will be relevant to talk about gender in relation to biological sex so long as oppression is directly correlative to the arbitrary fact of your bathing suit area. There is no singular expression of 'womanhood' or 'manhood' (which is equally fraught!) nor should there be. The pussy is a metaphor here, collecting pussies in a gallery is a gesture towards the multiplicity of experience within a whole.
“We are not seeking to de-sexualise a sexual organ: we are pro-sex and pro-pleasure and pro-expressing yourself. Females do not need to be de-sexualised, which is also to say that we do not need to be further fetishised” – Eva Sealove
Can you tell us about how you caption the images?
Eva Sealove: We each select images and each write captions separately. They are often semi-autobiographical and often reflect conversations we have with each other and with our larger circle of friends, and sometimes it's just pure tomfoolery. Stay fuckin' tuned.
Chelsea Jones: We both consider how the image ties in with the content of the caption we write. We think it makes the overall impact heavier and ties the image to the caption in a way that keeps the context intact – it's a more immersive experience.
Is there a deeper message behind the account?
Eva Sealove: Yes, a huge part of the project is representing multiplicity of experience. We aren't militant about much of anything except anti-shame, although we are aware that shouting 'love yourself!' and waving signs at people doesn't address the fact that feeling at home in your own body is an ongoing, existential and personal thing. We feel it's important to examine what it means to feel hunted on a daily basis, what it means to be made to feel that your body is a cruel joke that you're trapped in, what it means when other women tell you bullshit like 'show him the puppet, not the strings', what it means to be told that you're beautiful, but (by omission) that you aren't really anything else, what it means to be told that you're ugly and by extension, probably worthless, what it means to be violated, what it means to be dismissed, to feel that you have to hide your period from your co-workers, to feel that you're never good enough, to feel that your ideas aren't worth anything, to get paid less, to be interrupted or ignored even when you're saying hilarious shit, to have assumptions made about your personality or your gender or your sexuality, ad infinitum.
Look at This Pussy is tongue-in-cheek, for the most part, but there's a serious message underlining the account. Do you think we need humour in order to address female shame and body issues?
Chelsea Jones: I don't think there's any prescriptive 'need' for humour in appealing to a wider audience. We certainly live in a moment where memeification and relatable-ness dominate our contextual/visual tone, especially on Instagram, so the use of it on LATP is well-adapted. If anything, the lighthearted tone makes it more digestible or approachable, but the undertones of the text we're putting forth aren't super humorous. That said, the image here is a hugely important factor for the project, functioning as the sort of 'design' element. The images we select are compelling (shoutout our followers) and don't immediately strike as 'angry feminist!!!!' and thus, pave a way for people who aren't at all interested in the language or message to still participate, because a lot of our followers do simply look at the image. This is completely missing the point, but it offers the opportunity to convert people, so to speak.
Eva Sealove: Fear of saying the wrong thing gets in the way. Nothing should be untouchable and there's no point in being pedantic when you're aware that you don't know everything. Plus, laughing is chill and healthy for your health.
What's next for Look at This Pussy?
Chelsea Jones: We just did an editorial project with a couple other women for the forthcoming inaugural issue of Rodeo Object Journal and are adapting LATP to outside of Instagram.
Eva Sealove: We are launching a podcast on May 1, 2016 called 'Do What Feels Right' which will feature discussion, advice and interviews. Look out for it!