Twenty years ago I read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. In it she talked about the mass consumption of conventional concepts of beauty as the new oppressor of women and rallied for the what she called the third wave of feminism.
Twenty years ago she was appalled by what she saw as the growth of the plastic surgery industry in response to women’s desire to meet unachievable physical goals.
Looking back, the text reads like science fiction; how could Wolf have known the psycho/sexual/social landscape where we women now wander and that surgical reconstruction, remodeling, rejuventations, injections, lifts, tucks and fat sucks should become so normalized, and so relatively accessible for the everyday woman?
Plastic surgery was once only in the domain of the wealthy meant for movie stars with too much cash and too little self esteem. But these days my local GP can not only give me a script for antibiotics, he can also shoot my forehead full of botox. Does this infer that ageing has become a illness?
Since the advent of consumer-friendly plastic surgery, grown up girls have been indulging in what I can only describe as socially acceptable self-mutilation. Teenage girls sit in bedrooms around the world cutting themselves, preparing them for the day when they’ll pay someone else to cut them. It’s sick.
A flick through a women’s mag the other day prepared me for the most disturbing revelation of all… The most popular elective surgery? Labioplasty. Yep. Alongside worrying about wrinkles, cellulite, unwanted hair and yellowing teeth we must now worry about whether or not our twats measure up.
I had no idea that there was a perfect aesthetic when it came to the vagina. I haven’t really gone around showing mine to that many people for critiques’ and testimonials so I guess its hard to gauge what is normal, although I have to admit I’ve never had any complaints. ‘I’m not coming over this week Mandy, your labia is too unruly. There’s barely anywhere to sit!’
At what point did women start thinking that trimming their labia was going to make them happy? That it would answer the questions as to why their children were doing poorly at school, or the girls hadn’t asked them to luncheon, or hubby had been so distant? I can’t fathom why women would choose to pay over $10,000 to electively trim their labia when there’s so many other ways of enhancing your life, like putting in a swimming pool, going on a yoga retreat, or growing back your pubic hair.
“The Great Wall of Vagina” by Jamie McCartney: 400 plaster casts of female genitalia.
You see, I blame the Brazilian. In the day of the hairy beaver women didn’t worry about whether or not their vag was up to scratch. You couldn’t see it. Once nature’s fuzzy pixilation or ‘pubes’ are removed its curtain call for the labia! Women have suddenly seen their labia and become perplexed. That just can’t be right!
Unless of a girl on girl persuasion, chances are most women have only seen the nice tidy Photoshopped vaginas of internet porn. In comparison, their vaginas aren’t neat enough. They are too chaotic, too random. Too like something from War of the Worlds. As one of my favourite feminist writers Kathy Acker once described female genitalia, too much like ‘an upside down strangled jellyfish’.
Labioplasty treats female genatalia like it’s some sort of entertaining area. It’s like getting the landscapers in to take out the dividing wall, erect a giant Buddha, a BBQ setting and a Bali Hut for those meditative moments. Hey, there’s already a water feature!
Designer vaginas aren’t cheap. I don’t do designer, I’m more of a budget shopper. I’m talking K-mart, Target and the odd spot of Vinnies. Can you get a designer vag on Ebay? Even then it would probably be out of my reach. If I wanted to get a new vagina I’d have to find mine on Gumtree.
So to all the long labia-ed girls out there in fear of their voluminous flaps destroying their lives, I would say get over it. Men don’t actually care. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘Well I had to end the relationship because of her uneven labia.’ Labias can actually be useful. If you are ever in a situation like the Virgin Mary, and have to ride a donkey sidesaddle at full term then my money is on the girls with the curtains.
They’ve got the grip. Why not keep yours?
MORE ARTICLES BY MANDY NOLAN
*Mandy Nolan is a Renaissance Woman. Not just a stand up comedian of 27 years, she is also a teacher and writer of comedy, a journalist, a painter and creator of a commonwealth funded humour therapy course for people with dementia. She’s also a mother of 5 and an ex-wife to many more. You can go to her website here.