Vabbing: the controversial dating trend seeing people use their own bodily fluids to attract a partner

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Leah Sinclair
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Vabbing, also known as vaginal dabbing, is the practice of using vaginal fluids as a perfume to attract men  and it is worryingly gaining popularity on TikTok.

The constant fascination with vaginas and their scent has always been mind-boggling to me.

From the hype around Goop’s ‘This Smells Like My Vagina Candle’ to the plethora of products telling women how to make their vagina smell like every flowery scent under the sun, the fixation around vaginas and how to bottle, brand and sell their scents - despite doctors like Jen Gunter warning us that scented washes can cause harm – has been a topic of conversation for decades.

And that conversation just got a new lease of life with the emergence of vabbing.

Vabbing, also known as vaginal dabbing, is the practice of using bodily fluids (mainly vaginal fluids, obviously) as a perfume in order to attract a partner.

The theory behind it is based on the idea that vaginal secretions contain pheromones, which are reported to play a huge role in mating for animals. However, scientists say there is no official evidence to know to what degree pheromones can influence sexual and romantic compatibility in humans.

While the phenomenon reportedly dates back to the 1950s, it was popularised by sexologist Shan Boodram in 2019, in her book The Game of Desire.

“You can use your vaginal fluids as a perfume to draw people in,” she says in a YouTube video about vabbing. “In the book, I suggest women put it on our wrists.”

The practice has since seen a resurgence on TikTok with users sharing how they’ve become enamoured by vabbing and how it has helped with their love life, particularly after user Mandy Lee shared a now-deleted video advocating the practice.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but vabbing works,” said Julia Sena, a TikToker and content creator who shared a clip about vabbing that gained over 3.9 million views.

Sena has documented her experience since vabbing and how she feels it’s played a role in her dating life, amassing millions of views in the process.

While the term vabbing has been circling around the social media platform, it’s divided opinion, with some swearing by the practice and others debunking it.

And while it may seem like a harmless TikTok trend that will probably fall off in a month or so, it represents something slightly more concerning to me.

We’ve seen a massive resurgence in Y2K culture that has ranged from fashion to beauty - but elements of that culture seem to be making a return, particularly in dating attitudes that can be seen with the popularity of vabbing and ‘siren gaze’ – an expression where someone narrows their eyes while raising their eyebrows and opening their mouth to the person they’re attracted to.

It brings back 2000s “how to get the guy or girl” culture that sees people feed into different fads and trends in a desperate attempt to get the person of their dreams – something that is eerily reminiscent of those early 2000s teen magazines that will tell you “if a guy really fancies you”, while reading some celebrity goss, completing a flow chart and enjoying the glittery pink lipgloss that came along with it.

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At the time, those magazines were the holy grail for many of us and it didn’t seem problematic to read things like that. But considering it’s 2022 and we’ve come so far when it comes to dating attitudes and prioritising self love, the emergence of vabbing feeds into the ‘how to be attractive’ mindset that damaged millions of tweens in the 2000s – but this time we’re not reading them in magazines but scrolling through them on TikTok.

While we can enjoy the return of 2000s disco belts and butterfly clips, this 2000s trend of toxic dating advice and fads doesn’t need to make a return.

Instead of using vabbing or siren eyes to ‘seduce’ someone maybe we should just keep developing ourselves perhaps?

Tiktok fads and trends on “how to get the guy or gal” are predominately directed towards women and only feed into the idea that we actively have to do certain acts to attract others as opposed to just being ourselves – and I don’t know about you, but going to the extremes of vaginal dabbing to attract a person might be where I draw the line.

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