I was recently asked to articulate my opinion on cosmetic vaginal surgery, mainly labiaplasty.
I promptly re-watched the film linked above, The Perfect Vagina by Heather Leach and Lisa Rogers. I originally saw the film about a year ago. I couldn’t remember all the details from the movie but I did remember it left me confused as to what my opinion was about cosmetic vaginal surgery.
Initially, I felt regret for the younger women going through with the procedure. During my 40 years I’ve spent time thinking my outer labia were too big, years later thinking them too small. I used to think hangy inner labia were weird, then years later I wished my inner labia hung more! For a long time I thought my vagina too roomy– it felt like a sedan and I desperately wanted a cute little sports car vag. Today, I’m perfectly happy with the vagina I have, it makes fisting so much more fun!
Same with other parts of my body– 1995: “shaving genitals borders on pedophilia, it makes us look like 10 year olds!” Fast forward to 2005: “I can’t IMAGINE giving or getting a mouthful of hair, gross!” I’ve spent countless hours thinking my boobs were too droopy, my tummy too round, then years later liking them just the way they were (alright, maybe I *still* do have tummy issues. I’m still working on FUPA acceptance).
Part of my drastically varying opinion on my body over the years reflects my response to a societal change in perception and body fashion—prime example: Playboy’s Evolution of the Boob. The other part of it is, as I grow older I become more comfortable with myself and realize most of the things I obsessed about in my teens and 20’s didn’t matter to me by my 30’s. Whatever the reason, our opinions will change— that’s a given. Many younger women don’t realize this, this type of knowledge and acceptance comes with age. Having already mastered these lessons isn’t what youth is about.
As women especially, we generally don’t become comfortable with our bodies until well into adulthood. Heck, I was SERIOUSLY considering a breast lift when I was in my early 20’s. I absolutely hated my breasts with a passion up until a few years ago. Now that I’m 40, I look back thinking I was being silly at the time. But it’s hard to tell a 24 year old to wait it out 10 years. That’s not how life works, we don’t have the perceptions and insight of a 40 year old at 24 or vice-versa.
On the flip-side, put yourself in the position of a 24 year old who hates what she deems as her horrible, disfiguring flaw. She feels like a freak. She ISN’T a freak by any means but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel like one. And those insecurities may prevent her from exploring relationships and comfortably living her life. If she’s got her mind set on surgery and she will gain an immediate actionable benefit from it. Who are we to say it’s purposeless? In my opinion it’s not necessary, she’s beautiful the way she is, but that’s my reality, not hers.
Yes, I absolutely think labiaplasty is being performed at an alarming rate (and I also have issue with parents giving consent for 16 year olds to have this done. Let’s at least reach legal adulthood!). But does one woman deserve to be shamed for all I think is wrong with society? Collectively, we DO plastic surgery shame. A LOT. The vast majority of people who have cosmetic surgery DON’T turn out to be addicted to having procedures done and DON’T end up looking like they should be the poster child for “Plastic Surgery Disasters,” but we treat them all like they do.
Ultimately, society should change. We should stop using anorexic, boob-jobed models in the magazines, actors should stop making themselves look like collagen injected bubbleheads, we should start celebrating ALL types of bodies. Once those things change, hopefully we won’t feel as dissatisfied with what nature gave us– but the reality is, it will be a LONG time before all those wrongs go away. In the meantime, is it fair to shame every single individual who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure? No, it isn’t.
Whatever you choose to do with your body is ultimately your business. All I can do is hope you’ve thought it out, done your research and have people in your life who support you and love you no matter what your most intimate parts look like.
As far as society goes, changing our perception of beauty and the definition of “normal” is a bigger fish to fry. All I can do is try to be comfortable with myself, support others efforts in doing so and be vocal about it.
So friends, to you I say– I love my vagina! After 40 years and 2 kids it’s certainly more of a Lincoln Town Car than the zippy little import I had in my 20’s . . . but I wouldn’t have it any other way *fist pump.*
If you haven’t seen the video for “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide,” kick back for a few minutes and give it a watch ;)