Does absolutely everything need to come to the red table? In what was rightly called “a red table first,” on Wednesday’s episode, Jada, Willow and Gammy did a group vaginal steaming session on camera...because that is the must-see multi-generational TV moment we’ve all been craving.
The technique, which is touted to improve “womb wellness,” infamously gained steam (pun intended) a few years ago when promoted by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire, but many of us may have heard of it decades earlier from Jada’s world renowned healer of over 30 years, Queen Afua, who was welcomed to the red table this week “to share her trusted tools for less stress, better sex, diet, and overall health,” according to a release shared with The Root.
If you’re unfamiliar, Queen Afua is the author of Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit, a 20-year-old tome that is something of a bible in certain Black women’s circles, and a rite of passage in others. Among the wisdom Afua shares is the difference between real foods and dead foods, and how to detoxify the diet; but yes, she recommends detoxifying the yoni, as well—and the women of Red Table Talk do exactly that.
A transcript, courtesy of the show:
Jada: “What sensation are you guys getting sitting here?”
Willow: “Definitely a lot of warmth.”
Jada: “Yeah. This is real queen throne action right here. This is what I love.”
Jada: “You know, steaming is an ancient practice that originated in Asia and Africa and it was originally used to cleanse yourself after you finish menstruating.”
Gammy: “Oh, that makes sense. Yeah.”
Willow: “That makes a lot of sense.”
Jada: “I’ve read somewhere that vaginal steams are like an aphrodisiac.”
Jada: “This is lovely. They say there’s lots of health benefits, but for me, I just feel like spending time with your vagina in a way that, like, just to just show it appreciation and care.”
Willow: “And to connect.”
To...connect with each other, for sure. But perhaps that’s the point, since as the ladies also point out, vaginas aren’t something that generations prior to Willow’s often spoke freely about. Jada urges women to “take it back.”
“I never remember sitting down with my girlfriends having this kind of conversation,” says Gammy
“But I’m sure boys sit around all day talking about their penises,” Jada responds.
“Oh, absolutely,” Gammy agrees.
“I mean, that’s why I’m telling you right now I don’t want to hear nothing about this show. It being TMI and all that,” Jada continues, possibly referring to a first-season episode where she and Gammy indulged in a vaginal rejuvenation procedure. “‘Cause if you can listen to all these little rap artists talk and abuse the vagina...You sure as hell can watch women give it honor and praise,” she adds.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, Jada. While we agree that folks should speak lovingly and bow down to the vagina, with all due respect to Queen Afua, we do need to talk about the safety hazards of vaginal steaming. In fact, at least one woman received “serious burns” on her undercarriage after performing what Gwyneth Paltrow branded as a “V-Steam.”
Per the New York Post:
The 62-year-old woman’s traditional Chinese doctor advised her to mix an herbal medicine blend in a pan of boiling water and sit over it for 20 minutes. The woman told her doctors she did this twice, then sought a second opinion — at which point doctors found she had sustained the second-degree burns.
Furthermore, a vagina functions like a self-cleaning oven, so unless there is an infection of some sort present, they don’t need to be detoxified. “[H]eating the vagina isn’t necessary,” wrote general practitioner Dr. Ann Robinson in a 2015 article for the Guardian, adding, “it’s kept at body temperature (37C), which is perfect. Any hotter and unwanted bacteria and yeasts such as candida will proliferate, normal enzymes start to get sluggish and increased blood flow due to the heat will make the vagina itchy.”
“The water vapour in steam isn’t a good idea either,” she continues. “The vagina is kept naturally well lubricated with oily substances. Water isn’t hydrating to cells. On the contrary, water can wash away natural oils, leaving the vagina poorly lubricated and more prone to cuts and irritation. Thrush, caused by an overgrowth of candida, thrives on warm, damp conditions, so is a definite risk from steaming.”
Since that’s not a risk we’re willing to take with our yonis, we’re gonna skip that part of Queen Afua’s wisdom and instead focus on her advice for detoxifying through healthier eating. Decide for yourself—but to be fair, the Red Table Talk hosts seem to be satisfied customers.
Jada: “ I think my vagina today, she is saying ‘Thank you.’”
Queen Afua: “Gratitude.”
Jada: “Gratitude because of that steam we had. I think that was like the first time that I actually had a communion with her like that, you know, that was just me and her.”
Queen Afua: “Beautiful ceremony. Loving her.”
You can witness the ceremony for yourself on today’s new episode of Red Table Talk, now streaming on Facebook Watch.