The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Australian & NZ Gynaecologists Blacklist “Designer Vagina” Surgeries

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 1, 2008

Thank heavens for The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, for injecting some sense into the cosmetic surgery madness known as “vaginal rejuvenation”. Here’s what they have to say on the procedure:

“The college is particularly concerned that such surgery may exploit vulnerable women,” the statement says.

Dr Ted Weaver, chairman of the college’s women’s health committee, said there were now a number of clinics, mostly in Sydney and the Gold Coast, offering these treatments.

Most of the operations cost at least $10,000, an “extraordinary amount of money”, Dr Weaver said. “We feel these operations might prey on people with insecurities and fears who actually need psychological help,” he said.

“They are also not very anatomically-based and have the potential to cause serious harm”.

Many college members had treated patients with scarring, permanent disfigurement, infection and altered sexual sensations, some of whom required reconstructive surgery, he said.

Some of the instances that the College’s members report are truly horrifying, including men bringing in their partners with a photo of a porn star and saying “Make my girlfriend look like this”.

It’s hard to say whether the rise in vaginal cosmetic surgeries is a natural extension of the surgery boom in the ’80s and ’90s (i.e. what left do we have to fiddle with now that our faces/breasts/noses/arses are sorted?), whether it’s influenced by the “pornification” of sex and our bodies, or something more sinister.

True, there are some women who have enlarged labia, for example, who seek a reduction to decrease discomfort and so on – just as there are people who have rhinoplasty for medical reasons – but the bulk of the surgeries seem to be aesthetic/cosmetic.

This excerpt from the frankly mindblowing (and not in a good way) LabiaplastySurgeon.com highlights my concerns about the industry:

Aesthetic reasons (beautification) are largely being driven by societal evolution regarding sexual habits, wants, and expectations. This is the primary reason driving the market for genital surgery, and is chiefly responsible for the dramatic increase in labiaplasty, as women in everyday life are now demanding more options when it comes to another openly accepted, self-esteem, minor surgical procedure. Most women seek sculpting of the labia, or vaginal beautification to achieve a better look for themselves, and their sexual partner. This can include even age-related enhancement for women who are older and want a return to the youthful look they had when they were younger.

It’s widely known that men today are experiencing more open awareness and discussion of their sexual problems and needs. Proof of this can be seen in the frequent advertising and availability of new medications such as Viagra®, Cialis®, Levitra® and other. Women are now experiencing the same thing. There is a societal evolution currently occurring about how men and women perceive each other in areas of sexual expectation, SPECIFICALLY when it comes to sexual performance and appearance.

Simply stated, women, like men, want to “look good”. This is a perfectly normal self-expectation. Woman today, can usually achieve this prospect through labia reduction surgery, at a reasonable cost.

The thing that freaks me out about all this is that vaginas – like faces – are meant to look different. There is no “ideal” labia length or colour, or clitoral hood size, or vaginal depth/tightness. What seems to be at play here, as much as I am wary of the “blame porn for everything” angle, is that porn’s cavalcade of tight, hairless female genitalia has made certain people think that they or their partner are not normal.

In essence, I can’t help but feel that the surgeons who push labiaplasty and other cosmetic procedures have created a problem so that they can provide the solution (much like advertising/marketing departments making panty liners so that women will feel they are being dirtied if they don’t wear a liner for every day of their cycle). The fact that these surgeries exist says “Hey, have you looked at your vagina lately? Unhappy with what you see? We can help you!”

Another issue is that many women are, more or less, unfamiliar with themselves, as the delicate euphemism goes, “down there”. I vividly recall the bit in Judy Bloom’s Forever where the protagonist looks at her vagina with a hand mirror; it seemed like such a wise thing to do – after all, it’s hard to know if something’s wrong if you don’t know what your bits look like in their ‘normal’ state. But if an impressionable woman has only a passing knowledge of what her labia/clit/vagina looks like, it would be easy to imagine her looking at a trimmed “glamour model” and feeling different – and then the “vaginal rejuvenation” surgeons swoop in at her most vulnerable.

How do you feel about this particular cosmetic surgery development? Have you, or any women you know, considered it – or even had it?

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2 Responses to “Australian & NZ Gynaecologists Blacklist “Designer Vagina” Surgeries”

  1. […] Indeed, it is easier to believe (though harder to accept) that it’s the former – images of cunts – that is the main issue at hand. And why wouldn’t it be? Women’s magazines aren’t allowed to print images of women’s genitals (i.e. for sexual education) unless they are the homogenised line drawings of tampon leaflets (I recall Mia Freedman, when she was Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, even running an editorial push for readers to “write to their local member of Parliament” – so to speak – in an effort to get rid of these archaic censorship laws). Porn magazines airbrush women’s labia until they look like neat little purses. Women of all walks of life are talked into plastic surgery in order to achieve “designer vaginas“. […]

  2. Louise said

    What if I want to have a procedure that unhoodes my clitioris. I fail to achieve orgasim and i want to. I am 44, and what shouldnt I have what shes having? I want to orgasim….

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