Teenage Girls Increasingly Requesting Labiaplasty to Get the Perfect Designer Vagina

From Alternet:

“Never underestimate the power of beauty myths to manufacture inadequacies where before there were none. A little over a decade ago, labiaplasty—the partial or wholesale removal of parts of the labia minora, aka the inner vaginal lips—was a relatively obscure plastic surgery, compared with nips, tucks and lifts to various other parts. In more recent years, the number of women opting for the surgery has grown exponentially. Now very young women—girls still in their teens—are requesting the procedure in numbers growing so quickly that even some practitioners are concerned.”

“The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that across age groups, the number of labiaplasties increased 49 percent from 2013 to 2014. (From 2012 to 2013, there was a 44 percent increase, another impressive year of growth.) A recent New York Times piece notes that 400 girls 18 and younger underwent labiaplasties in 2015, an 80 percent increase over the year prior. That figure likely only provides half the story, considering that it omits surgeries performed by gynecologists, who perform the lion’s share of labiaplasties. The Times also notes that while adolescent girls comprise just 2 percent of those who go under the knife for cosmetic purposes in general, they make up 5 percent of labiaplasty patients.”

“The big thing I tell patients about labiaplasty is that there are a lot of unknowns,” Strickland told the Times. “The labia have a lot of nerve endings in them, so there could be diminishment of sexual sensation after surgery, or numbness, or pain, or scarring.”

“Teenagers receive the messages they’re sent via glossy, frothy media loud and clear. Imperfection is a choice; your best self is just one or two, or three invasive surgeries away.”

I’ve written about labiaplasty before, and I linked it to the social institution of heterosexuality that promotes inequality between men and women as something that makes relationships sexier. Women with small labia and hairless vulvas look younger, and thus makes them sexier to men who desire women who are younger and less powerful than they are.

This article in Alternet also made some good points that I didn’t make in my last post. One is that the surgery can diminish sexual sensation or cause numbness and pain. If women want to get surgery that will diminish sexual sensation in order to be more sexy, it’s because women’s pleasure is not important in sex—not important to her or her partner. What’s important is just for her to look a certain way. This is completely absurd, as well as misogynist.

Women are thoroughly taught that our role in sex is just to look good, and that our pleasure is not important, which is why young women accept lots of bad sex and don’t demand better from their partners. Women who are older and wiser know that there is no point in having sex if there’s nothing in it for us. When I was younger and having sex with men, I believed that I had to have as much sex as possible while I was still young, because I believed sex wouldn’t be as good when I was older and fatter. That turned out to be a load of bullshit because I never had satisfying sex with a man, and it turns out that sex gets better with age and maturity (and a female partner.) Women need to know that our role in sex is to feel pleasure, not to just provide a sexy-looking body for men to play with.

I also like Alternet’s point that if surgery is available, then imperfection is a choice. Of course, this choice only exists for people who can afford it, but this is an important point when identity politics and neo-liberalism are a part of the dominant belief system. We are supposedly all a bunch of free agents choosing choices, and we can choose to be anything we want, we can make up an identity and then have surgery to make our bodies match; our bodies are like consumer products to be bought and sold or improved upon, we value technology and perfection instead of our natural selves. In this culture, the solution to not liking our bodies is to simply change them. The people who benefit from this culture are the people who are selling us the products and the surgeries that we use to “improve” our bodies. It all comes back to capitalism. When we value profit instead of valuing ourselves, this is what happens.

Here is a quote from Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier, (which everyone should read,) to remind you of the joy and pleasure of the female body:

“The clitoris not only applauds when a women flaunts her mastery; it will give a standing ovation. In the multiple orgasm, we see the finest evidence that our lady Klitoris helps those who help themselves. It may take many minutes to reach the first summit, but once there the lusty mountaineer finds wings awaiting her. She does not need to scramble back to the ground before scaling the next peak, but can glide like a raptor on currents of joy.”

Imagine cutting off your clitoral hood and labia, when you risk losing the pleasure you can get from them, just to make your vulva look the way men want it to? This goes to show, once again, how men think that we are just a collection of holes for them to deposit sperm into, and that they have no respect for our humanity at all.

Capitalist patriarchy is anti-woman, anti-sex, and anti-pleasure.

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65 thoughts on “Teenage Girls Increasingly Requesting Labiaplasty to Get the Perfect Designer Vagina

  1. What breaks my heart is the thought of girls under 18 being exposed to so much porn they buy into wanting surgery. I may not have ever seen another vulva when I was that young, but at least I hadn’t been lead to thinking something was wrong with mine. The whole thing is deeply disturbing and so very, very sad.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Once vulva depilation became de rigeur, this bullshit became inevitable. Good Dog but I despise this culture.

    First I’ve heard of removing the clitoral hood. That’s not sexay enough either?

    Burn it all down.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It’s really sad how these young women feel they have to get this kind of surgery just to please a sexual partner. Any person, male or female, who won’t have sex with you if you don’t look a certain way isn’t worth having sex with, though too many young women don’t realize that important truth. Some of the letters to Scarleteen (an awesome resource on sexual health, relationships, and so much more) have been from young women who were very unhappy with their labia. One that particularly sticks out was from a young woman who believed she had three labia and wanted to know if she could cut it off herself, and how. The volunteer who answered her begged her not to cut any part of her body off, and explained how every person has a different but normal body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy hell.

      This must be one of the internet’s great harms – the ubiquity of porn and its access to young people, and what it trains them to think. I had never seen other labia when I was young. I wasn’t even that interested in my own. 😛 But the idea that there was something wrong with my body never crossed my mind. Sure, “not pretty” was in there, but more than that? Not a thing, not for me, not then. The poison wasn’t available as it is now.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I knew I wasn’t pretty, or willing to accommodate males who wanted to take up MY space. I did know my breasts were “too big” and wrong, and… I didn’t find out until I was 17 that surgery was even an option. I asked the surgeon for a double masdectomy, but – late 80s – I was told my husband and future children would prefer me to keep some.

        For the record, nerves don’t grow back on scar tissue, and you get these weird phantom itches under skin that has no nerves, but you can’t feel it even if you do scratch it.

        Oh, and I still bloody well got back issues. And post surgical pain is no joke, even when you aren’t cutting into the most sensitive of sensitive bits.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have absolutely enormous breasts but have never seriously considered surgery, not because the thought of them being smaller isn’t hugely appealling, but just because of trust issues with doctors, money issues, and being avoidant.

          I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve found that just carrying stuff around regularly helps build up shoulder muscles that make the weight much less of an issue (think buckets of water) and possibly being retired, which makes it unnecessary to wear brassieres most of the time. Also reading about radical feminism helped me resolve a lot of lingering sense of them being wrong, possibly just because of hanging out online with lesbians who are capable of finding breasts attractive without fetishizing them in some manner. Having grown up in a household where the porn wasn’t hidden, I’m pretty sensitive to anybody fetishizing me. I reliably attract some very creepy men, and who knows what straight women think; doubtless some of them are envious (!) but the dynamic with lesbians is much healthier.

          Liked by 3 people

        • I was still a kid. They promised my parents that the surgical staff would all be women (a promise that as far as I can tell they kept) and that my mom could sit with me in the recovery room (a promise not kept by the nurses in the recovery room.) My mom did stay with me insofar as she was allowed (not overnight, but every second of visiting hours) and provided a lot of my post surgical care. She also was the one who figured out why what the nursing staff thought was a bad sign was just me being a kid. (I wasn’t allowed refined sugar at home. But on a clear liquids diet I was allowed to live on juice, jello, and clear soup. OF COURSE I didn’t ask to be given different food. Keep the jello coming!)

          One of the best parts about Michigan was for all of about 15 minutes feeling sunlight and fresh air on my chest.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, it was suggested to me, but nobody pushed it. I went for a long time thinking it was stupid of me not to have had it done, even so. Never occurred to me that this was internalized misogyny, this body-hating.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Miep. I’m always seeing posts you make and thinking Yes. This. I’m het and I only do *anything* with people who actually like women and everything we got.

        This OP is tragic. How can young girls mutilate their wonderful natural bodies, and how much damage must they do to their precious sexual responses? What sort of parent supports this version of FGM?

        I have a very complex looking vulva with large wrinkly labia, and used to worry quite a lot as a young girl that men would find it off-putting. It’s neither pink nor unobtrusive. However once I became sexually active I got compliments from several lovers who found its lavish complexity exciting. No one ever said anything remotely negative. Men who actually like and respect women are not looking for pornified sex toys or the vulvas of small children. They want real natural women. I wrote this paean of praise to mine:

        “Mine is a baroque pussy. A coating of gold paint and the addition of a few cherubs and you’d have a magnificent Italian fireplace in miniature…”

        There’s more, but it gets a bit TMI…

        There’s a great site called the large labia project (http://largelabiaproject.org/) which should be widely publicized among young impressionable girls. Large labia are magnificent and, if you’re into PIV sex, they also have advantages.

        Liked by 3 people

        • It’s a great idea to show girls pictures of all the different ways vulvas can look, I agree. It’s not spoken of much and there is indeed a great deal of variety.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I can’t believe these women spent years of their lives feeling bad about their labia. How awful! It’s never occurred to me to judge my genitals or anyone else’s. All vulvas are perfect and beautiful!

          Liked by 3 people

        • PSF , you terribad person you! Now you’ve gone and done it and ERASED someone who doesn’t like their vulva because the identify as a sparkly gender!

          Like

        • I feel a certain satisfaction, for all this body’s medical shortcomings, at simply being what they cannot – a woman. I don’t feel good or bad about it otherwise, but pissing off the CiFs without even trying appeals to my schadenfreude.

          Liked by 1 person

        • If they really understood what being a woman is about, I expect fewer of them would be so enthusiastic about the prospect. I’ve read enough about what happens when they medically transition and pass to some extent, how surprised they are at the difference in how men treat them. It ain’t all chivalry, folks.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally insane. But predictable.

    I don’t know if yall really understand what I’ve been trying to say. The women’s movement will never be taken seriously until it has nuclear weapons. Most of the low yield nuke cores I have blogged about are still around.

    All labiaplasty doctors will be brought to Battery Park and hanged or Lower Manhattan gets at few SADM rounds. All the supporters of abortion restrictions in Texas will beheaded or we’ll blow up all your useless coal plants.

    Seriously, I think the women’s movements of the 60’s-80’s failed because they were not nuclear armed.

    Liked by 1 person

      • We’re dealing with a large cohort of male humans who think they will die if women laugh at their dicks. Nuclear weapons is probably not the right approach.

        Like

        • Cupcakes are too small. You need a full-on cake in order to depict a woman laughing at dicks.

          Hey, I may have just found the inspiration for my next drawing.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Wait one gosh darned minute! You mean I spent all that time studying self defense and I could have offed the pedophilic bastards that terrorized my time in high school by pointing my forefinger and giggling?!

          Liked by 2 people

        • I know who I would have taken out and in what order. Starting with the bastard that ran the school would have bought me enough chaos to have taken down his buddy. After that, I would have had no problems rounding up the rest with the help of the nuns.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thus, the best response is to bond with other girls and work out how to avoid going to high school. This should be taught in elementary school. All we would need then is women to teach us, somewhere else, preferably some nice meadow somewhere. Or maybe a nice cool cave in the summer.

          Liked by 2 people

      • I totally agree. I think the US and Russia should enter new negotiations instead of sticking to an old freeze agreement from twenty years ago. The US and Russia could cut weapons yield by 7/8ths and we would both have complete countervalue against any aggressor and at least a little counterforce.

        But really, don’t you dream if this? A women’s movement with at least a few low yield nuclear bombs?

        Canada had control of 1.5 kT Genie rounds for twenty years. Two of these rounds have gone missing. Maybe the women of Canada stole these missiles

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Girls are expected to be porn stars, or at least look like them, earlier and earlier! Implants for “perfect” breasts; now labia removal? Sheesh…
    It’s all about the appearance, thanks to Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, etc.
    Tiresome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were expected to look like movie stars and beauty queens way back in the day, too. And shamed for looking too sexually desirable as well. Social media is just another tool, and one that needs to be carefully watched.

      More than selfie culture – which selfies don’t bother me basically at all – I worry about cyber bullying. I was bullied and severely sexually harassed as a child, but aside from my own trauma arising from it, it hasn’t followed me into adulthood. If a potential employer googles me, they might find my politics dodgy, or object to my green hair phase, but they won’t find what my bullies had to say about me. That isn’t true for young women these days, and I begin to wonder if we aren’t in for a new time when women have to take our culture underground.

      Liked by 3 people

      • My question is, what is “Too sexually desirable?” Big breasts? That’s where a lot of women get hung up when it comes to supporting (or not supporting) other women, pun heartily intended!

        Why would a lesbian care if straight women are “jealous / envious” of her breast size? I’m just curious, since those statements were prevalent in a topic about labia removal…

        If my breast size (or lack thereof) means that I have no say in feminist issues, then…why should I even bother?

        “My boobs are bigger that yours, so therefore, I’m more “feminine” than you!”

        That’s just as sexist / misogynistic as any statement by any man, isn’t it?
        Shit, if I didn’t know any better, that’s just the female equivalent of a “pissing contest / cock-fight!”
        XD

        Like

        • What?! Where did you get that from in my comment???

          As an adolescent girl, I was physically assaulted – not once, but frequently. The adults I went to for help shamed me for the shape of my body, for the clothing I wore (too tight, too loose, too unfashionable – too thrift store, too homemade.)

          My classmates called me humiliating and dehumanizing names some of which also referenced my racial/ethnic and class background. This is emphatically NOT me claiming to be “more feminist” whatever that means. This is me saying that while misogynists have turned social media into their hunting grounds, the pressure on women to conform, to have the exact right appearance is nothing new. And we are very little ahead of our great great grandmothers who made flypaper tea to whiten their complexions by poisoning themselves.

          I see this focus on women against women and want to cry.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I’m paraphrasing another person’s comment in the section; I don’t remember what they said verbatim, but it went something like,
          “My boobs are huge – I wonder if straight women are envious?” – and it got a reply. It’s there, but my computer is crashing too much right now to go back and find it and block-quote it. It’s there, though – unless it gets deleted – and I don’t take screen-captures of every single post that I see.

          Like

        • Oh for heavens sake! Honestly, I’d be tempted to think “autogynephile” except for the absence of the word “cis”. Still not completely convinced it isn’t.

          I gave up on the comments. I generally find that not reading them is the better course for my blood pressure.

          Liked by 1 person

        • That was me. I’ve never gotten direct feedback along those lines, but I have discussed with women who are similarly endowed how mind-boggling it is that women actually wish this upon themselves. And yes, sometimes women do get really large implants. And yes, men do fetishize my breasts and some women think men being attracted to one is mandatory.

          I most specifically did *not* say lesbians had issues about this, I said exactly the opposite. I was addressing overall how women are conditioned to think some other kind of body type is better, generally one with significant breasts, and considering it ironic as I myself would prefer to weight ninety pounds and be shaped like a stick.

          I could be wrong, maybe it is more fashionable to be shaped like a stick. It would definitely be a lot more convenient.

          Like

        • That I get! Yes, I too have spent a huge part of my life wishing I didn’t look like the child of Thorin Oakenshield’s affair with the Venus of Willendorf. I wanted to weigh about 120 pounds and be six feet tall and basically look like David Bowie, Boy George, Annie Lennox… The 80s androgynous superstar look, basically.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I still didn’t get an answer to my question. Do you think that you’re more “feminine” than I am because you have huge breasts?
          Also, I’m not shaped like a stick – but compared to you, I suppose that I must be!
          It’s that divisive commentary that I get tired of when women get together: straight, bi, or lesbian.
          It’s a pissing contest, and it’s ridiculous. That’s my not-so-humble opinion!

          Like

        • I have no idea how you got that idea from my comment. I blame the retrograde.

          If you knew me in person, you’d laugh your ass off at the idea of anyone thinking I intentionally perform femininity or use it to compete. I haven’t ever worn makeup, I wore a dress to a job interview once in 1993. I cut my own hair without a mirror, I have virtually never shaved my legs. I wear about four different kinds of men’s clothing and am perfectly comfortable going out in public in stained or paint-spattered shorts. I am even more of a slob at home. I am very careful with food and food prep surfaces and equipment. Everything else is, shall we say, dodgy.

          Femininity is an act, not a quality. I’m not a very good actor.

          I hope that answers your question.

          Liked by 2 people

        • I answered Miep’s comment about “who knows what straight women think ” re her breast size. I didn’t get any impression from her or from FP that they think bigger breasts, or the problems that go with them (physical and social) made them better feminists, much less more feminine. As they’ve both said before, they don’t do feminine. I’m also not sure how you got this impression from their comments.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It’s okay. I can’t count the number of times I’ve projected something I’ve seen in one place onto people in another place, or misread something because I thought I knew what it was going to say.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, and I got offered the job, a temp clerk/typist job paying $17 an hour, which was quite decent back then. I also simultaneously got offered a job paying $6 an hour helping care for exotic arthropods, mostly large tarantulas, which it took a two hour bus ride to get to, across town. Naturally I took the bug job. Yeah, I’m real feminine lol.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. And God and friend PSF know that “feminine” is about the last descriptor anyone would hang on me with my shaven head, square shoulders, and continuing thrift store wardrobe. when my dad retired, my mom had to send me a text informing me that yes, I had to wear a dress for the party, so I basically let a straight friend of mine take me to her favorite thrift store and dress me.

    And hey, maybe I do have a heaping ton of internalized misogyny to work through. In fact, I’d personally bet on it. I used to fantasize about hacking off my own breasts. I did get reduction surgery and begged the surgeon for a double masdectomy. Late 80s so no such luck – but I absolutely positively wanted to NOT look like the porn images that were around, even then. I wanted old men to stop asking me to jump so they could see my breasts bounce. I wanted the principal of my school to actually look at my face when he talked to me. I wanted to go through a day without being pinched or otherwise nonconsensually touched.

    I wanted to be a person, not a fetish object. And yes, there are multiple ways to shame women for our appearance, but it felt very much then as though nobody cared that I was trying to prepare for a Vocation, because spirituality is not for women of my class, background, or body type.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have big breasts as well. They have always made me feel self conscious and are a PITA if I want to run etc.

      Also, many women, specifically, think that women with big breasts are sluts. I have always been into fashion and the outright HATRED and body shaming that is held for big boobed model Kate Upton is unbelievable, especially as it comes from young women who consider themselves to be feminists.

      And for the record, I did not get the impression that anyone here was saying that big boobs = more feminine. I mean srsly wtf??

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This essay – yes, on point! 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

    I don’t particularly see my own body type as in any way a superior one to have. As noted above, I would go all invasion of the body snatchers in a New York minute on Tilda Swinton or Annie Lennox, or any of the other androgynous types that seem to be all over the entertainment business. Sue me.

    I just want everyone else to stop attaching meanings to my body. No, triple D breasts do not in fact constitute consent. No, you may not touch. No, my face is up here. Did I mention I studied Judo, Karate, and ballet? Do you want to taste your own balls? Then my face is up here, asshole.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with preferring certain physical features. Some people like large penises, uncircumcised penises, beards or clean shaven faces. Some people like short brown hair as opposed to long red hair. Likewise, I think some people honestly do like hairless or trimmed pubises, and it’s not just straight men that feel this way. I hate body hair on men, unless it’s on top his head. And even with little to no hair, an adult vulva is very different from a child vulva in size and appearance.

    However, a preference is just that, a preference, not a rule. If you genuinely love someone, you shouldn’t demand that they look a certain way. You especially shouldn’t demand that they spend large amounts of money, undergo painful and/or disfiguring procedures or else you’ll break up with them or refuse to have sex with them. You especially shouldn’t demand that they look like fictitious images, whether those images are porn or they’re in a fashion magazine.

    And for God’s sake, I can’t believe people have this much time to spend looking at their own, or someone else’s genitals. Don’t men have better things to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. People care too much about outward appearance. Not surprisingly this includes genitalia. My own experience with this occurred after i was unfortunate enough to get cancer in both testicles which required their removal. Insurance covered the bi-lateral orchiectomy (castration) but didn’t cover implants – an interesting conversation with my advisor who, to her credit, did try her best. Initially, I was horrified when I looked at my “empty sack” but eventually I did get used to it.

    Like

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