Stories come up in the media from time to time about women having genital (cosmetic) plastic surgery and I am always left feeling really sad by them. Take this example from the Sydney Morning Herald:
The second paragraph was what really surprised me:
The biggest increase in vaginoplasty and labioplasty has been among teenagers and those in their early 20s.
Teenage women (girls as young as 15 the article goes on to say) having labioplasty? (A procedure where a portion of the inner labia are cut off to make them protrude less). What on earth is going on?
From later in the article:
If a woman was extremely distressed, treatment might be justified even if her anatomy was normal.
I would have thought that any health care professional who was truly ethical would, in a situation like this, be referring their patient to a psychologist rather than pulling out the scalpel. Extreme emotional distress over normal anatomy sound to me like a symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The accepted treatment for which is Congitive Baehaviour Therapy combined with anti-depresents.
From the Wikipedia article on BDD:
Many individuals with BDD have repeatedly sought treatment from dermatologists or cosmetic surgeons with little satisfaction before finally accepting psychiatric or psychological help. Plastic surgery on these patients can lead to manifest psychosis, suicidal tendencies or never-ending requests for more surgery
Yes, just look at where that lead for Michael Jackson. I don’t mean to be flippant though. This is a serious issue. Girls and women need to be supported and allowed (yes “allowed”, not “made”) to feel comfortable about themselves and their bodies.
Whenever this issue comes up I always think back to our federal government legislating that images of a naked woman were not allowed to show her inner labia. The result of this is that women are being educated about what their labia “should” look like by popular culture that regularly air-brushes out a models actual body parts. Replacing healthy protruding inner labia with an anonymous fold of skin. This is not reality. It’s not helpful and in fact it causes real pain and unhappiness for all of the women who are lead to believe that their genitals are meant to look like the anonymous airbrushed slits of Penthouse models.
This is not reality and no-wonder so many women are ready to subject themselves to the pain and risk of surgery when they are being told that their most intimate body parts are “deformed” whenever they see a picture of another woman naked.
To cap off the insanity …
… said Dr Weaver, who will speak this week about the issue at the Women’s Hospitals Australasia and Children’s Hospitals Australasia annual conference in Melbourne. “If women have big labia, does that really make them less desirable?”
The answer Dr Weaver is “NO”. If he even needs to ask that question, then he clearly has never hit Google and researched “large labia”. The short answer is that there are plenty of men out there who actually like and love large labia.
Ladies, whatever shape your genital are, there are men who adore them. Please don’t go cutting them off. Before you talk to a plastic surgeon (who can’t deny having conflicted interests when it comes to surgery for cosmetic reasons only), go on-line and talk to the men who love you for what you are. If you want to feel good about having protruding labia then you will be overwhelmed by their support.
To be fair to Dr Weaver he did say:
“I think we need to go right back to school when kids have sex education,”
He is right. It would help if our politicians and prudish community leaders took the course too. Lets educate everyone about sex and our bodies, rather than breed anxiety and fear over some extra skin.