A study published recently in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reveals that the number of Labiaplasties performed in Britian has risen by 70 per cent over the last 12 months. Dr Creighton, a gynaecologist who participated in the study suggests that these statistics considerably underestimate the actual number of labiaplasties performed because ‘there will be more women seeing cosmetic surgeons privately.’
Most women requesting the procedure, according to the study, are in their late teens or early 20s and not suffering from any medical condition as such. Rather, they are seeking out cosmetic surgery on medical claims of ‘insecurity’ and/or ‘psychological damage’ caused by their perception of their genitalia as ‘unattractive’.
Creighton explains that these women are seeking a ideal homogenised genital appearance in which the labia minora are not visible when they are standing up. The study goes on to explain that the surgery is potentially risky, that there is no regulation of the procedure, no ‘follow up’ with patients and no studies or research on potential or actual after-effects.
Not only does the study highlight ongoing feminist issues surrounding body image and unhealthy societal pressure on women’s bodies and appearance, but it makes me wonder where in the media young women are seeing this genital ‘ideal’ represented?
Perhaps it is the influence of ever-insidious young women’s magazines like D_lly and Gi__friend. I used to read the former magazine when I was a young teenager and remember sealed centre-fold sections that presented a series of up to 30 close-up photographic images of men’s genitalia with an accompanying article in which women had commented on and ‘rated’ the men’s genitals on a scale of 1-10. These types of articles were always punctuated with horribly negative evaluative commentary on the shape and form of peoples’ genitals. I wonder how and why people think this kind of thing is appropriate or acceptable…it’s horrible. Really horrible.
But if young women’s magazines are the primary source of images of genital ‘ideals’ why has there been an apparent spike in the last 12 months? Are young women watching more pornography and might this explain the spike in demand for genital cosmetic surgery?
Labiaplasty procedures are also known as ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ and/or ‘vaginal tightening’. How utterly horrible, sad, unfair and perverse that young women are made to feel as though they need this type of surgery.