Hands up who’s had a good, hard look at their vagina in the mirror? How does it shape up?
I’ve had a look at mine, but much like my thoughts on a penis close-up, I don’t think it’s particularly attractive.
Don’t get me wrong – I love vaginas. I definitely love my own vagina. It’s just not the prettiest pussy in the cat show. And frankly, I don’t care. It works and it brings me great joy. And my husband couldn’t care less what it looks like, he is just happy to get anywhere near it.
That’s why the rapidly increasing trend of getting corrective surgery to fix “abnormalities” is so worrying to me. The news this week that girls as young as 12 are seeking cosmetic genital surgery to look “normal” is frightening.
Firstly, what constitutes an abnormal vagina? And secondly, who is telling women that their vaginas aren’t up to scratch? (Cough! Ed.)
Women’s insecurities are at an all-time high and now they are moving to the largely untouched, mind the pun, bastion of the vagina.
New boobs – check. New nose – check. New hair extensions – check. New labia – oh shit, I must get that sorted.
Medical and reconstructive procedures aside, it seems the alarming trend to undergo procedures for cosmetic reasons is on the rise. According to an article in The Age, Australian Medicare figures reveal that the number of women undergoing vulvoplasty or labiaplasty has more than doubled in the past 10 years to over 1,500 women last year. This figure does not take into account private practice surgery. The day surgery procedure reconfigures the inner and outer labial lips of the vagina and is done under local anaesthetic and sedation.
Award winning documentary, Sexy Baby examines how a hypersexualised society has impacted on the lives of three different women.
One of the women is 22-year-old Laura, a kindergarten teacher from North Carolina, who lets the filmmaker document her labiaplasty, complete with footage of her vagina before, during and after the procedure. Insecurities about what she considered her excessively large labia began after a boyfriend commented on its size.
“My first serious boyfriend watched X-rated movies and stuff and he was like: ‘Oh, it’s bigger than other girls. What’s wrong?’ so I just feel like it would be a huge turn on to a guy to look like a porn star,” she explained.
Author Naomi Wolf, who has written extensively about vaginas in her most recent work of non-fiction Vagina – A New Biography, has been vocal about the impact porn has on an individual’s sexual psyche.
“The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographised,” says Wolf, in a New York Magazine article.
“Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training – and this is having a huge effect on how they interact.” Fewer women are feeling “porn-worthy”.
And men aren’t immune to heightened insecurities about how they look and perform in the bedroom. Just take the trend in Thailand for men to inject their penises with olive oil, bee’s wax, paraffin or silicone, to increase its size. It’s simply disturbing.
This is not to say there aren’t many women and men out there perfectly happy with the way they look and perfectly at ease with their sexual prowess. Many a healthy sexual relationship (or individual) can use porn as an aid, but it seems there’s a new generation, and sub-section of the community, who can’t. A group of people so ashamed – and pressured – about how their bodies look that they will go to expensive and at times dangerous lengths to alter their genitals to emulate their air brushed, digitally-enhanced and cosmetically altered ideals.
For me, I’d be happy to find my vagina at the moment, what for it being a bit of jungle down there.
MORE STORIES BY BIANCA WORDLEY
*Bianca Wordley is an Adelaide-based blogger and writer who is the publisher of bigwords. She has worked for The Advertiser, The Sunday Mail, Independent Weekly, The Times, Australian Associated Press, Adelaide Hills Magazine and read the news for ABC Radio. You can find her on Twitter: @bigwordsblog.