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Perverse Incentives
May 22, 2011 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Obstetricians and gynecologists are meeting the increased demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery (NSFW)
posted by reenum (147 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, because there are so many dudes out there actively rejecting sex from eager women simply because their labia are too floppy.
posted by phunniemee at 5:32 PM on May 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Except for feeling that much more sexy, because nothing is sexier than a childlike vag.

Way to insult everyone who looks like that naturally Jezebel. And in the lead paragraph too.
posted by Mitheral at 5:34 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


my favorite part of this post is that last "pussy" tag, dangling at the end of the list like a floppy, juvenile afterthought
posted by nathancaswell at 5:35 PM on May 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes, because there are so many dudes out there actively rejecting sex from eager women simply because their labia are too floppy.
Did you read the first article? Because that isn't what she's saying. (In fact, it sounds like she has female partners as well as male and like some of her partners have expressed appreciation for her ample labia.) What she says is:
My unruly butterfly wings—otherwise known as my labia—interfered with my sexual activities. Riding a bike for more than 15 minutes? Painful. Camel toe? Obvious. Intercourse? Lube did little to relieve all that smooshing, pulling, stretching, especially when condoms were involved.
And I guess I can think of worse reasons to get surgery.
posted by craichead at 5:36 PM on May 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Obstetricians and gynecologists are meeting the increased demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery

What a non-statement.
posted by the noob at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I imagine the butthole is the next cosmetic surgery frontier...
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why you should use the RedEye setting when shooting vaginas.
posted by hal9k at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Way to insult everyone who looks like that naturally Jezebel. And in the lead paragraph too.

yeah this got me thinking a bit. I've come across it in reference to women waxing their pubic hair etc before too, there's always this tick writers on some of these issues have that urges them to put this strange sleazy charge on the aesthetic. I mean, I understand why it's unnatural, socially enforced, pornography-derived, etc. but saying that women who appear a certain way and men (also influenced by social conditioning of images) who're into it are yearning for the underage female body is just unfortunate.
posted by the mad poster! at 5:40 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I imagine the butthole is the next cosmetic surgery frontier...

jonmc, have I got a procedure for you!
posted by phunniemee at 5:40 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had assumed that cosmetic surgery was a subset of elective surgery, and that elective surgery to alleviate discomfort or inconvenience was not strictly speaking cosmetic surgery.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:42 PM on May 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


"I imagine the butthole is the next cosmetic surgery frontier..."

You have no idea
posted by Blasdelb at 5:45 PM on May 22, 2011


Somehow I'm weirdly glad I wasn't the first to respond with anal bleaching...
posted by Blasdelb at 5:46 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anal bleaching FAQ's
posted by Xurando at 5:48 PM on May 22, 2011


in the future everyone will have "body résumés" to assist in determining if your prospective sex partner's body is up to your personal aesthetic standards

the really serious sex tourists will have to get their body résumé checked by their doctor and notarized, so that when you post it on okcupid, the sex partner you're about to fly to uzbekistan to meet and fuck will have confidence that you are as hot as you claim

the body résumé will not need pictures, instead it will have citations to a sourcebook published by the american plastic surgery association that contains pictures and vital statistics for each known variation of each body feature
posted by LogicalDash at 5:49 PM on May 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


The before/after photos were interesting, in that I was expecting the before photos to be more extreme. Those just looked like regular poons to me, nothing extreme enough to tell your friends about later.

And the Australian video in the one Jezebel link was neat, in that they were tying the demand for the surgery to Australia's odd censorship laws that effectively mandate that porn mags show one and only one kind of female genital.

If it makes people happy to get the surgery, then I'm happy for them. My guess is that it's unneccesary more often than not, but I'm not living their lives, not having those conversations with lovers, not (as in that first article) dealing with the discomfort of riding a bicycle.
posted by Forktine at 5:49 PM on May 22, 2011


... and not surprised that I'm not the last
posted by Blasdelb at 5:49 PM on May 22, 2011


Let me tell you, we middle aged men have plenty of stuff we wish we had the money to get corrected, and at least half of them are genetic rather than the result of lifestyle.

The genetic dark circles under my eyes; the double chin, the bad knees....

So, yeah, cast the first stone and all that.

What's so special about the naughty bits if they are making one uncomfortable? How's that any different from my discomfort, even my vanity?
posted by digitalprimate at 5:51 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it is "trends" like this that make me never, ever want to have sex again. When I get past the depression about how I'm inadequate, I'm just filled with rage that the world really, seriously expects me to spend all this precious time and money on really dumb, invasive stuff when instead I could be doing fun or important things.
posted by Frowner at 5:52 PM on May 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


There was a time when I really looked down on people that got cosmetic surgery of any kind. As if they had failed themselves and lacked any kind of perspective.

Now I just don't give a damn. Not hurting anyone else? Go for it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:54 PM on May 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


In a world where women are still suffering from unepaired obstetric fistulas in some countries, this is 8 million flavors of unconscionable.
posted by yarly at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


There ain't nothing wrong with plastic surgery
Well, Dolly Parton never looked so good to me.
Everybody ought to be exactly who they want to be.

posted by maryr at 5:58 PM on May 22, 2011


craichead: " What she says is:
My unruly butterfly wings—otherwise known as my labia—interfered with my sexual activities. Riding a bike for more than 15 minutes? Painful. Camel toe? Obvious. Intercourse? Lube did little to relieve all that smooshing, pulling, stretching, especially when condoms were involved.
And I guess I can think of worse reasons to get surgery.
"

At that point, we should stop calling the surgery cosmetic - this is surgery to relieve pain and discomfort, much closer in intent to getting a knee replaced than collagen injections.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:59 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]



Now I just don't give a damn. Not hurting anyone else? Go for it.


Over my lifetime, the amount of effort, money and time women are expected to spend making themselves minimum-sexually-acceptable has increased dramatically. Back when I was in high school, I had to shave my legs [to be acceptable to men; I no longer bother] and that was about it. Then I was supposed to wax my legs or pay to have them done, plus get pedicures. Then I was supposed to do that plus shaving the rest of me [ahem], then that turned into waxing, and complete waxing. Not to mention that it's apparently completely expected to start getting laser treatments for your skin the minute you visibly age, plus women are no longer allowed to wear nylons with skirt suits [unless you want to look frumpy] so now there's leg make-up and more laser treatment for veins. And now one's labia can be too fat.

What you see as "not hurting anyone else" is just sort of a sexual-acceptability arms-race for women. It's very difficult to refuse this stuff when you know you might squick a partner or even your doctor. (I worry a lot about doctor visits, actually--don't want to gross out the younger OB-GYNS with my non-body-conforming.)

Obviously, anyone whose body is so made that it's physically uncomfortable to bike or have sex or whatever should feel free to have any surgery they please; insurance should cover this.
posted by Frowner at 6:03 PM on May 22, 2011 [82 favorites]


In a world where women are still suffering from unepaired obstetric fistulas in some countries, this is 8 million flavors of unconscionable.

In a world where people are starving, ice cream sundaes are 31 flavors of unconscionable.
posted by TypographicalError at 6:03 PM on May 22, 2011 [69 favorites]


In a world where women are still suffering from unepaired obstetric fistulas in some countries, this is 8 million flavors of unconscionable.

Um, exactly how does the presence of one surgery cause the absence of the other?


on preview, let's all have some ice cream of oppression!
posted by elizardbits at 6:04 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm just filled with rage that the world really, seriously expects me to spend all this precious time and money on really dumb, invasive stuff when instead I could be doing fun or important things.- Frowner

I don't expect you to spend money and time on dumb stuff. Anyone else here expect Frowner to spend money and time on dumb stuff? There may be people out there who do, but I've found life to be much less stressful when I stop trying to me the expectations of people I have no respect for.
posted by eye of newt at 6:05 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd heard of this kind of thing for the past couple years but never saw a before/after gallery that explained it. It's kind of shocking to see the lengths people go to try and feel better about themselves, and in all sorts of new ways I never imagined.
posted by mathowie at 6:08 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, for one, fully expect Frowner to trim those labia and turn that frown upside-down.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:09 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


In a world where women are still suffering from unepaired obstetric fistulas in some countries, this is 8 million flavors of unconscionable.

I hate that trailer.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2011 [33 favorites]



I, for one, fully expect Frowner to trim those labia and turn that frown upside-down.


Okay, that was kind of inappropriate but also hilarious. I am not really sure about metafilter norms, though.
posted by Frowner at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Over my lifetime, the amount of effort, money and time women are expected to spend making themselves minimum-sexually-acceptable has increased dramatically.

Hey, how 'bout you move to a high pressure job in midtown and talk to me about Paul Stuart and affording summer weight suits and keeping in shape and keeping your hair perfect lest you be seen as un-promotable, eh?

Or perhaps I should move my entire family to bumfuck middle america and deal with their teachers who are not allowed to say gay and who imply Jesus rode dinosaurs?

Some places, you gotta pay to play. I made my choice, and you wanna denigrate, go ahead. I'm not going to denigrate the choices of anyone, male, female, transgendered or any variant in between when they are just trying to do right by themselves and their families.

YOU come to midtown in summer and wear a 120 weight suit.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:14 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Metafilter: the first to respond with anal bleaching."

Am I doing this right?
posted by Nomyte at 6:15 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't help but contrast this with some of the causes for female genital mutilation/circumcision, except without the cliterectomy thing..
posted by porpoise at 6:16 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why some people get up in arms about other peoples' elective surgeries. If you don't want people to thrust onto you their idea of what they think you should look like, then you shouldn't do it either. This includes you expecting others to live with the looks they were given.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:17 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


digitalprimate, what on earth are you on about.
posted by the mad poster! at 6:18 PM on May 22, 2011 [24 favorites]


The befores are full of character and natural beauty. The afters look like something a factory made. I appreciate there can be other reasons for such surgery, but for the look alone it seems wasted to me.
posted by Jehan at 6:18 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years back a friend too me for lunch with her cousin and a few friends. They were in town with their husbands, who were all podiatrists, for a conference on cosmetic toe shortening. I kind of thought cosmetic toe shortening was beyond the pale, but who am I to judge what an adult wants to do to their own body. If you want to lop something off, go right ahead, it is your toe, or labia, or whatever.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:25 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that cosmetic surgery is due for a more artistic phase. The vaginas should go cubist.
posted by jonmc at 6:28 PM on May 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


digitalprimate, what on earth are you on about.

I'm saying that a lot of people spend a lot of money and time on adjusting the way they look for a whole variety of reasons, and some are minor (in the case of wearing a suite in the Manhattan summer are relatively trivial), but all have the potential for real consequences for the potential happiness (including economic or social mobility) of the individual involved, and I'm not willing to judge people for the choices they make in this regard.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2011


Holy Turtle!
posted by hypersloth at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the first link: I recalled my intimate experiences with other women, the opportunity to explore and compare my own anatomy with theirs. Theirs were so little, cute, easy to navigate. Mine looked like something stuck to the underside of a movie theater seat.

That makes me so sad to read. Like, really, really sad, that she would have this impression of her genitals. I kind of think that genitals in general are weird looking things, but that's because I don't think we see enough of them every day.

For instance, I've seen thousands of people's ears, in person. Everyone's ears look different; some are small, some are large, connected lobes, unconnected, etc. I think we've all just seen enough of them now that they're just ears.

I don't know. I wish people wouldn't do this kind of thing to themselves. She does mention the discomfort during biking and sex, but there's also the cosmetic aspect to it, and that's what makes me sad. A lot of people in this thread are saying "if it makes you happy, go for it", and to an extent, I agree. I think that a lot of these women think that having inner labia that protrude even the slightest bit is unseemly, and that's just not the case.

She even mentions having had a partner who complimented her on her pre-op self (“Actually, I like it full and lippy ... That’s my thing.”), but it didn't help. =/
posted by King Bee at 6:30 PM on May 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


The weird thing about cosmetic labia surgery is that I can't imagine that most straight women have that good a sense of what normal labia look like. Do most of these women really know whether their labia are pretty? Pretty compared to what?
posted by craichead at 6:30 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


digitalprimate, I think the criticism isn't about the individual agents stuck in the system (although, man, wearing a whole suite is just odd) but about the pressures that propagate within the system to make these things necessary
posted by the mad poster! at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can not wait to get my penis remodeled. It'll have wings, racing stripes and universal remote built in, plus USB 3 and Firewire ports.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:34 PM on May 22, 2011 [26 favorites]


All this just makes me so grateful my labia are as adorable as they are. Thank you, Jesus.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:35 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a gender studies lecturer in uni who compared labiaplasty to female circumcision. Not as equivalents of each other, and certainly not in terms of consent, but in the sense that they are both examples of a culture that has decided how women's bodies should look, and then putting pressure on women (to extremely different degrees) to conform to that 'ideal'.

Someone I was in love with hated her breasts, and had been saving for years for an operation. I thought she was beautiful, and told her often, and it broke my heart that she could think herself flawed in some way. I'm all for people having the power to make their own choices, but I think it's not going overboard to say that choices about cosmetic surgery are hugely influenced by a society that expects women to look a certain way (the caveat being when the issue actually brings about pain or discomfort).
posted by twirlypen at 6:36 PM on May 22, 2011 [15 favorites]


> It'll have wings, racing stripes and universal remote built in, plus USB 3 and Firewire ports.

If your cock was a Mac you could have Thunderbolt.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


but who am I to judge what an adult wants to do to their own body. If you want to lop something off, go right ahead

This is a great sentiment, in theory. I remember watching a TV show a few years ago that followed a woman who wanted to amputate her (perfectly working) legs. She was as certain she was supposed to be a leg-less person as a trans-person is sure they're supposed to be a different gender than the one their genitals suggest. Part of me wants to be like, "yes, let her amputate her legs, she's an adult and can make her own choices," but would some therapy help her accept her body the way it is, with legs? Having working legs certainly makes the practicalities of life easier. Maybe women who think that they need surgeries on their vulvas to make them more "attractive" or whatever could be similarly helped with therapy, regardless of how much they are adults who can make their own decisions.
posted by phunniemee at 6:44 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, because there are so many dudes out there actively rejecting sex from eager women simply because their labia are too floppy.

What's a labia?
posted by loquacious at 6:44 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am going in to get some lightning bolts drawn on it, a la Bret's approach to David Bowie's dream advice in Flight of the Conchords.
posted by theredpen at 6:44 PM on May 22, 2011


the mad poster!

On the one hand, pressure is pressure, and I'm not going to be critical about how people respond to that (e.g., wearing suits in summer which admittedly is not on the same level as surgery but is a daily tribulation, one that is NOT optional for a lot of people). On the other hand, people are free to buy into that pressure or not, and I'm not going to critique them for buying in.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2011


....which is not to say that people aren't just making themselves more comfortable.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:46 PM on May 22, 2011


"I'm not going to denigrate the choices of anyone, male, female, transgendered or any variant in between when they are just trying to do right by themselves and their families."

Except those among them who move to or live in "bumfuck middle America."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:48 PM on May 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


I had a gender studies lecturer in uni who compared labiaplasty to female circumcision. Not as equivalents of each other, and certainly not in terms of consent, but in the sense that they are both examples of a culture that has decided how women's bodies should look, and then putting pressure on women (to extremely different degrees) to conform to that 'ideal'.

That's a pretty broad and inflammatory grouping to make, when you consider that me (a guy) makes the same decision about which haircut to choose based on conforming to an ideal of what a man is supposed to look like. I cut my long hair because I wasn't able to get a proper job as a man with long hair.

Yes, female circumcision and labiaplasty are examples of cultural pressures, but there are better groupings to make when comparing cultural pressures, especially when you have to ignore a whole host of reasons why they aren't equivalent to even get them in a group together.
posted by dflemingecon at 6:49 PM on May 22, 2011


If your cock was a Mac you could have Thunderbolt.

It's an iOS device, with the new retina display.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2011


So the husband says "Can the doctor do anything about your saggy old ass?" and the wife says "Your name never even came up."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:52 PM on May 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


(Um, I apologize for the "bumfuck America comment...sincerely, that was out of line. Sorry)
posted by digitalprimate at 6:54 PM on May 22, 2011


I'm about as squicked out by this post as I am by the television commercial aimed at women that has been running for months in at least the Southeastern U.S., for a combination razor/trimmer product (Schick Quattro for Women Trim Style), where a lot of the video is topiaries in time lapsed stages of unruly excess morphing to neatly regular, and finally, down-pointing triangular shapes, capped by a passive product shot. Ye gods! Even the deaf consumers get the message: Trim your bush, using this.

I don't care what anybody does or does not do with their nether regions, but I'd rather not have to think about it, or have "norms" explicitly established via advertising, or news media. This is way past an old man's natural "get off of my lawn" sentiment; I don't want to talk lawns, topiaries, or trees, if it is likely to be mis-construed as a conversation on personal hygiene. Period.
posted by paulsc at 6:57 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just feeling wistful thinking that the pre-op pictures reminded me of varieties of wild orchids, while the post-op pictures looked like standardized - well, slits.
posted by likeso at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


the world really, seriously expects me to spend all this precious time and money on really dumb, invasive stuff when instead I could be doing fun or important things.

Without trivialising the societal pressure to conform to reasonably strict gender norms - and the cost and harm that sometimes results in doing so - I really don't think you can argue that society is demanding women get labioplasty, or the long list the Frowner outlined.

Whether some people feel a sense of pressure is another questions, and I think you can definitely believe that society places more emphasis on a woman's appearance than a man's etc without believing that you're broadly expected by anyone to do this procedure. And if you are expected, it would seem women are saying no, as hardly anybody gets or is getting labioplasty. I would know the The Atlantic article is completely bereft of any numbers demonstrating this increase.
posted by smoke at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2011


Watch out a woman is making her own private health care choices involving her vagina! everyone chime in and sure to make her feel guilty or weird about it. You there bible guy, make a threatening website. Whew that was a close one.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah this ain't no "free to be you and me" happy seventies empowerment trip. This is "make your pussy look like something nature didn't do to it" bullshit. You all want to celebrate people's right to slice up their labia, fine. Still some trippy-ass whacked out end of civilization bullshit, though.
posted by angrycat at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK all straight lady mefites, maybe we just need to turn this all around. How about we start a movement to convince men that big penises are just plain gross and they need plastic surgery to correct their deformities so that they will once again look like cute hairless little boys.
posted by mareli at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


btw, as per the Slate XX podcast, the highest number of surgeries are taking place in SoCal. Now, as a former Oregonian I have issues with L.A., but may I gently suggest that the fact there is a concentration in a certain locale smacks of pressure to conform, aka bullshit.
posted by angrycat at 7:10 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


digitalprimate, I think the criticism isn't about the individual agents stuck in the system (although, man, wearing a whole suite is just odd) but about the pressures that propagate within the system to make these things necessary

I think this pretty much sums it up. Sure, you're a full-grown adult, free to do whatever you want with your money. You're free to sell all your belongings and donate the money to Harold Camping in anticipation of the apocalypse if that really suits you.

The fact that an individual person decides that their vagina is "ugly" and chooses labioplasty is unfortunate, but hey, it's their road to happiness. And I don't think they should be judged individually for it. However, the fact that labioplasty (for cosmetic, not comfort purposes) has come to be considered a sensible norm in the first place is what is truly, terribly appalling and just plain sad.

Personally, those "before" and "after" pictures look pretty much the same to me. You could probably reverse them and I couldn't tell which one is supposed to be "prettier".

But now that we're told what beauty is, someone is going to have to "pluck" those Georgia O'Keeffe flowers to keep up with the times.
posted by adso at 7:11 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some people seem to have very low opinions of other women that they assume these women do it because pornography prefers shave-tail.
posted by gjc at 7:12 PM on May 22, 2011


that big penises are just plain gross and they need plastic surgery to correct their deformities

Oddly millions of American males already have had cosmetic surgery on their penises. We didn't event get a choice. This isn't a men vs women issue, this is people choosing to do something to their bodies some people don't approve of. If there is one thing that should remain sacrosanct it is a person's right to do as they wish with their own body.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:14 PM on May 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah this ain't no "free to be you and me" happy seventies empowerment trip. This is "make your pussy look like something nature didn't do to it" bullshit. You all want to celebrate people's right to slice up their labia, fine. Still some trippy-ass whacked out end of civilization bullshit, though.

Calm down. Life is too short to care what people freely choose to do to their vaginae.

(And society has yet to end even though they have been cutting extraneous skin from males' naughty bits for millennia.)
posted by gjc at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2011


- The befores are full of character and natural beauty. The afters look like something a factory made.

- Just feeling wistful thinking that the pre-op pictures reminded me of varieties of wild orchids, while the post-op pictures looked like standardized - well, slits.

This kind of thinking isn't really helpful. What of the women that have smaller labia that look like the post-op photos, because that's just how they are naturally? Oh, they're just boring, standard, cookie-cutter slits.
posted by raztaj at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


(And society has yet to end even though they have been cutting extraneous skin from males' naughty bits for millennia.)

Exactly.
posted by longsleeves at 7:19 PM on May 22, 2011


No. Once upon a time, they were interesting variants in their own right. Now, at least in this section of So Cal, it's What A Vagina Must Look Like.
posted by likeso at 7:23 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you can definitely believe that society places more emphasis on a woman's appearance than a man's etc

Yeah, no. And I've made enough poor analogies in this thread and so will bow out now,
posted by digitalprimate at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2011


This is "make your pussy look like something nature didn't do to it" bullshit.

Do you say that to preop transgender people too?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:28 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do care about kids getting the stupidest fucking message in the world from the fucking nitwits who do this to themselves *for cosmetic reasons.* I care about women being sold this crock of shit. Jesus.

Or, maybe I like to control women's bodies. You decide!
posted by angrycat at 7:28 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


"All this just makes me so grateful my labia are as adorable as they are. Thank you, Jesus."

I guess my prayer is just insufficient

"What's a labia?"

loquacious, Don't open this at work
posted by Blasdelb at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: "my penis ... Firewire"

I'd get that checked out. In the meantime, start taking as much penicillin as you can.
posted by Apropos of Something at 7:51 PM on May 22, 2011


You know, the other day I used ice and an xacto knife to cut off a good-sized skin tag that I had right at the top of my inner right thigh. It was ugly to me and sometimes made me self-conscious during oral sex, and sometimes it rubbed uncomfortably in tights. If I had protruding labia, I can imagine the appeal of having them clipped. After all, it seems pretty straightforward, surgically.

A girlfriend of mine showed me hers, once. They protruded, yeah. I couldn't say "no, honey, I can't see anything." There they were, doot de doo. She was wrapped up in the shame of the alleged visual non-conformity and she didn't mention any trouble they gave her sexually, but now I wonder if that's somehow less speakable.

Anyway, holler when I can get a Reebok Pumpussy or a sweet spoiler, hydraulics and subwoofer down there.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:07 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


MaryDellamorte: "I don't understand why some people get up in arms about other peoples' elective surgeries. If you don't want people to thrust onto you their idea of what they think you should look like, then you shouldn't do it either. This includes you expecting others to live with the looks they were given."

I'm just thinking most of the responses like this is because some MeFi's feel bad that people are so uncomfortable with their bodies they have what those MeFi's see as unnecessary pain, expense, and modification for something that is cosmetic.
posted by Samizdata at 8:11 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you can look at those pictures, and read about the surgery and think to yourself, "Yeah, that sounds less painful than living in this body the way it is," I'll be damned if I'm going to judge. Ow.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:12 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just thinking most of the responses like this is because some MeFi's feel bad that people are so uncomfortable with their bodies they have what those MeFi's see as unnecessary pain, expense, and modification for something that is cosmetic.

I would even add to that and say that the reactions are, in part, an expression of frustration that the culture is such that people feel pressure to conform which causes them to feel so uncomfortable with their bodies, etc.

People should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. But cultural norming and Othering of those who don't conform is a sad thing, and that is what I see a lot of people trying to express in this thread.

The woman who had this surgery because it was causing her actual pain and interfering with things she should otherwise enjoy, that's not really what a lot of people regard as cosmetic surgery (although technically it is, I guess), so people are also probably responding to that wording in the FPP.
posted by hippybear at 8:16 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


FWIW, I wish I had been given a choice on my circumcision.
posted by Samizdata at 8:22 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


angrycat: "the highest number of surgeries are taking place in SoCal. Now, as a former Oregonian I have issues with L.A., but may I gently suggest that the fact there is a concentration in a certain locale smacks of pressure to conform"

There is an industry where people finding one's labia attractive is a job requirement. A pretty huge share of the people working in that industry work in SoCal. I am going to guess this plays some part in this trend.
posted by idiopath at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2011


Idiopath, that's my assumption, too. But that industry is quite pervasive, and has already influenced body fashion for women in the 'mainstream'. Size/shape/placement of breasts, amount of hair/hairstyles for vaginas, size/shape of lips (mouth)... Not to mention influencing clothing, lingerie, makeup and hair length. Once things cross to the other entertainment industry in SoCal, it goes viral.
posted by likeso at 8:37 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"some MeFi's feel bad that people are so uncomfortable with their bodies"

Also there is such a fine line between "I'll get this little thing that bothers me fixed and feel better about my body" and "OMG PLASTIC SURGERY NOW I CAN LOOK LIKE BARBIE!" I was thinking the same thing while reading the breast reduction thread. When you know someone who gets a procedure that's partially cosmetic -- even LASIK -- and then they're happy and glad they did it and feel better about the world, you're usually like, "That's really great!" But now and then someone goes down the rabbit hole and what they feel bad about isn't actually their breasts or their vision or their labia, but their entire self, and they try to cure it with surgery upon surgery upon surgery. Add to that that portions of the industry exist to prey on people's insecurities and push those insecurities farther rather than suggesting that changing your nose cannot fix an underlying psychological issue -- well, it's hard to feel completely comfortable with cosmetic surgery.

We had a friend -- male, actually -- who started with LASIK and then just kept finding more things about his body that he could "fix" and pretty soon he was having repeated liposuction to "sculpt" his abs better. (Dude was not overweight.) He added exercise bulemia to that. And eventually (after moving some ways distant from us) joined what appears to be a cult. And it's all part of these underlying issues of self-like and self-loathing and self-perception that will not be helped by all the plastic surgery or eating disorders in the world ... and definitely not by his apparent cult. I worry about him a lot.

So when someone tells me they're getting an boob job or whatever, I'm never sure until after the fact whether it's a "Hey, that's great, I'm glad you could take care of that superficial thing that's been bothering you for years, you seem much happier and more confident!" or whether it's the first step down the road to crazytown and cult membership. And the more the surgery seems to play into gender stereotyping, unrealistic body type demands, or unrealistic demands for youthfulness, the more uncomfortable I am with it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:38 PM on May 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


If the shape of your labia truly makes living your life in a normal fashion painful, then I suppose you should get the surgery, but I kinda like those flowery labias, but then again, I am not a normal USAian. Color me flumoxxed without a good opinion on this one.
posted by roboton666 at 8:40 PM on May 22, 2011


I entered this thread under the assumption that this is strictly driven by women's insecurities, but after reading craichead's comment, my perspective was thrown into doubt. I suppose my assumptions stem from a female friend asking me if guys thought floppy labia were gross. Surely, though, at least some of this stems from insecurity and the Madison Avenue marketing machine, no?
posted by indubitable at 8:56 PM on May 22, 2011


Here's something cool--- everyone can be free to anything they want (that is legal) with their bodies. And anyone can be free to have any opinion they like about what other people do with their bodies!

Right? Cant people be free to say "well that sucks because soon all the ladies will have to get this surgery"

And of course people can be free to have any opinion they want about other peoples opinions, "Well your opinion sucks!!"
I could really keep on going like this... anyway....

I mean I don't think it's true through, shaving has been going on for a really long time and there are chicks who don't shave and still get dudes. But it's an understandable way to feel when you see body modification to fit porn standards becoming more and more normalized.

And really, it's up to the guys whether they'll take unshaven hairy women or floppy labia women (or up to women who date women). So it's understandable to be saddened that all girls could at some point have to do all kinds of surgeries to their bodies to get a relationship (or sad if the reverse happened with men's bodies).

That would certainly sadden me. If that is what human beings want, then so it will be. I guess at some point the human body will be kind of like computer avatars and you just design and go. Maybe some people will get surgery to get wavy floppy labias for that "natural" hip look.

LOL.
posted by xarnop at 9:10 PM on May 22, 2011


I bet the bin out back looks like it's full of bacon trimmings.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:13 PM on May 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dammit, now I'm hungry for labia.
posted by Nomyte at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2011


They should put up seagull nets.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:20 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, my turn

Meta Filter: Dammit, now I'm hungry for labia.
posted by Sportbilly at 9:30 PM on May 22, 2011


Dammit, now I have an extra [space]. MetaFilter. That's what I get for smoking and typing.

My chance at internet stardom, epic fail.
posted by Sportbilly at 9:31 PM on May 22, 2011


I showed this thread to a friend of mine, who related a story that when he went for a Brazilian the waxer took a look and exclaimed, 'Oh are you sure you want to do this? We're a bit meaty down there'

And I thought... that's a detail that I really didn't need to know, but will pass it along to my mefi buddies none-the-less.
posted by the noob at 9:43 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Oh are you sure you want to do this? We're a bit meaty down there'

His...genitals...were getting in the way of his genital waxing?
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:47 PM on May 22, 2011


I remember being a teenager who hated absolutely everything about her hair, face, and body (or so I thought) until one day, I read an article in a beauty magazine about feet. Until then, as much as I hated my hair, face, and body, I had assumed that feet were pretty much all the same and hadn't given my own a second thought. Oh, but this article. Suddenly it was clear to me that my feet were absolutely disgusting, something I was expected to be proactive about making less disgusting, and I immediately leveraged my meager after-school earnings to buy all manner of scrubs and peels and lotions to try and correct something disgusting that it never occurred to me I'd be judged for. What a quaint story! I feel so, so sorry for girls today.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:49 PM on May 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


large labia are hot.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:53 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the UK Channel 4 has been producing sex education shows for teenagers that include close-ups of different looking vulvas and live models of both sexes for the last couple of years. Seems like a fairly direct approach to addressing the distorted impression given by porn.
posted by tomcooke at 12:16 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Medical question: would this not cause some issues with potential loss of sensation?

I looked this up and came across websites with questions and answers on the procedure, like this one here says no absolutely no risk of loss of sensitivity "when the procedure is done correctly" (typical surgeons' disclaimer).

But then they go one BIG step forward and say: "It is well known MEDICAL FACT that the labia have sensory nerve fibers that ONLY transmit pain sensation, when stretched or torn. There is NO SEXUAL STIMULATION ASSOCIATED WITH THE LABIA MINORA."

Oh really? who said that? Where does this rather surprising "medical FACT" come from?
posted by bitteschoen at 12:33 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to take liberties speak for all hetero men here:

We are not to blame for this. Most of us are just so happy that someone is willing to get naked with us. Most of us squirm when someone talks about surgery down there.

Also, long eyelashes. We had nothing to do with that. We're pretty happy knowing our partner doesn't have an eyepatch.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:08 AM on May 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


What bothers me about this is the idea that genital beauty exists in a binary state. Your bits are either ugly or pretty, right or wrong.

When in fact, as evidenced by the comments here, your genitals will be attractive to some and unattractive to others. I just worry that some women might get this surgery because they have "ugly" genitals when in fact they just have genitals which some people would think are the best looking ever.

I don't really mind what people do to their bodies, but the idea that something about you can be "wrong" or "ugly" is harder for me to swallow because I honestly thing you body just is and some people (including you) might go crazy for it and other people (also possibly including you) won't like it.
posted by Saminal at 1:10 AM on May 23, 2011


There is an industry where people finding one's labia attractive is a job requirement. A pretty huge share of the people working in that industry work in SoCal. I am going to guess this plays some part in this trend.

You're hinting at something...but I'm not 100% sure. What are you talking about?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:11 AM on May 23, 2011


two or three cars parked under the stars: "All this just makes me so grateful my labia are as adorable as they are. Thank you, Jesus."

Pictures or it didn't happen.
Just kidding.
posted by bwg at 1:34 AM on May 23, 2011


Yeah, I dunno, I basically just see this as a body mod. I mean, I live in San Francisco, and before that, I lived in NYC. I've been to one Burning Man, nine Rainbow Gatherings, and am a regular at one of the BDSM nights here in the city. I seen all kinds of shit. Would I do any of it myself? Fuck no, I can't even handle a pierced ear. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna judge somebody else.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:53 AM on May 23, 2011


Anyway, I'll echo the sentiment that I have never kicked someone out of bed because I didn't like their junk.

Now, bad kissers, that's another story....
posted by Afroblanco at 2:11 AM on May 23, 2011


I find it impossible to believe that cultural pressure doesn't play a very large role in the prevalence of this sort of thing, and in the vast majority of cosmetic surgery. (Actual pain and inconvenience is another matter, of course, but my impression is that this is not the main reason why labiaplasty is growing more common.) Put it this way- if this culture did not sexualize large breasts to the extent it does, how many women would get breast implants? Well, how many Western women get neck rings? I think the answer to both questions is probably about the same. Beauty is a concept without objective reality- ideas of what's beautiful vary enormously from culture to culture, and if it weren't for certain specific ideas and standards present in this culture, I really don't think you would have women feeling that there was something wrong with their labia that they needed to change in the first place. A few, maybe, but I think in those cases it would be more in the category of what motivates voluntary amputees, or extreme body modification in general. (Though I don't understand either of those phenomena enough to feel qualified to comment much further on them, I think it's fairly safe to say that they aren't really the product of cultural pressures, or at any rate not in the same way.)

Of course, it's not a compassionate or productive approach at all to attack individual women for what they do in response to the cultural pressures they face. But I think the world would be a much, much better place without those pressures, and in the face of a barrage of sexist cultural ideas and messages that lead so many women to hate their own bodies, I feel a stronger response is called for than just saying "whatever a woman wants to do with her body is her own choice", and leaving it at that. The more mainstream cosmetic surgery becomes, the more, I think, that those cultural pressures and messages will grow ever stronger and the standard of beauty ever further from anything anyone is naturally born with, and the result will be that more and more women will end up with feelings of self-loathing and believing that there is something wrong with their bodies that needs to be changed. There is nothing good or right about that at all, and though I don't know what the best way to oppose it is, I do feel very strongly that it should be opposed.
posted by a louis wain cat at 2:12 AM on May 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "my penis ... Firewire"

I'd get that checked out. In the meantime, start taking as much penicillin as you can.
posted by Apropos of Something at 7:51 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


If your dick's a Mac, there's no threat of viruses...
posted by chavenet at 3:04 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Didn't Apple invent Firewire?
posted by ShutterBun at 3:40 AM on May 23, 2011


for the record, I will always find an eyepatch on a woman sexy, regardless of the size and shape of her nether regions...and I have no idea whether I have Tarantino or pirates in general to blame for that.
posted by squasha at 4:17 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are nuts. They will queue up for hours to get their hands on a new doo-dad and congregate in huge unruly mobs to see somebody sing a song. They will degrade themselves and others mercilessly to be on television and they will kill their children because somebody says the world will end. They will fawn and obsess over anything so is not surprising they will obsess over their sexual organs.

Now get off my lawn.
posted by eeeeeez at 5:00 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obstetricians and gynecologists are meeting the increased demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery ..... because cosmetic surgeries are generally not covered by insurance and doing cosmetic surgery means that patients have to pay cash. Sweet, sweet cash that you do not have to file long insurance forms to receive and no risk that the claim is denied.

If you have the benjamins your OB/Gyn will probably also set you up for some botox to remove all of those lines in your forehead you got worrying about the size of your labia.
posted by three blind mice at 5:12 AM on May 23, 2011


What you see as "not hurting anyone else" is just sort of a sexual-acceptability arms-race for women. It's very difficult to refuse this stuff when you know you might squick a partner or even your doctor.

One of my mother's friends is 78. She had an appointment with a gynecologist and her two daughters convinced her that she had to shave her lady bits otherwise she would gross out her doctor. I would like to slap her daughters.

The weird thing about cosmetic labia surgery is that I can't imagine that most straight women have that good a sense of what normal labia look like

I don't think most straight women have that good a sense of what normal breasts look like, much less labia. Most of the breasts we are exposed to in movies and porn are surgically altered. I grew up thinking that my breasts weren't beautiful because they didn't look like two half sections of grapefruit on a platter.

Fortunately I have a partner who grew up with a copy of The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort which featured drawings of unshaven women having sex in different positions with their lovers so to this day he finds natural women with full bushes and hairy armpits sexy. I still shave my legs daily though; I like the silky smooth way they feel.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:30 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wait, now I'm self conscious about my labia. I guess I'm one of those straight women who never realized there was such variety down there, and after looking at that gallery I realize that I'm basically labially challenged. :(
posted by MadamM at 6:04 AM on May 23, 2011


Oh Christ, MadamM. Do not do that to yourself. By the time any guy can see your labia, he is not going to be focused on how perky it is. This is a complete fucking non-issue. (Pun intended. Sorry!) I can think of about a million better things to be self-conscious about!
posted by craichead at 6:20 AM on May 23, 2011


(I say that as someone who has never been a guy. But I have faith in this.)
posted by craichead at 6:22 AM on May 23, 2011


I hope you are kidding, MadamM. Of the things to worry about in the world, this doesn't rank in the top billion.
posted by Silvertree at 6:29 AM on May 23, 2011


Labia is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.
posted by Silvertree at 6:31 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll let them come at my labia with sharp pointy things when they can pry my cold dead hands off of it...

(I'm so sorry, but the joke had to be made. It did. I'm sorry that nobody did it first, but since nobody was willing to man up (heh) and bring Charlton Heston into their labia...sometimes, you just have to take one for the team. You're welcome.)
posted by dejah420 at 6:43 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a guy, the one thing I notice that isn't talked about most times is that there is a pretty prominent misnomer that the size of one's labia is an indicator of promiscuity. That is to say, it's a common belief that "loose" or "meaty" labia get that way from "frequent use". I'd wager this is a bigger part of the public opinion on them, whether it's said outright or not.

Even if it isn't, the one thing I'm reminded of is when I was working at the grocery store, one of the teen girl magazines had to be pulled from the shelf because of a "controversial" article that discussed this very topic, with actual pictures comparing and contrasting. We discussed it in the office, and of course we had to see this article that was such a big deal. While it was surprising to see actual (completely sterile, non-pornographic) photographs of genitals in a magazine at the grocery store, content-wise it was a smart article, that basically said what people here are saying: vaginas all look different, so love the one you're with, etc.

What bummed me out was the loudest reaction in discussing the "gross" ones were the women in the room; despite what the article was trying to say, their first reaction was to continue to think the opposite, and because seeing genitals still upsets people, we pulled it from the shelf so teenage girls would be safe from getting the "wrong" idea.

Sigh.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:59 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't believe worrying about your body grossing out your doctor is a thing now. That's so depressing.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:40 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


My early comments suggested that I might have an issue with trans folks getting genital surgery. That is so not my issue, but I could have made it more clear. I'm only talking about women who only have the surgery because they think that their labia are "gross." I could just be defensive here, but the some of the "it's your body, do whatever" voices are jumping at the examples where genitals get sliced up for what are, in my opinion, good, healthy reasons for doing so (e.g. trans surgery). Again, not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the slicing that follows the mental thing: My labia are gross-looking. I am unattractive. Now THAT is some fucking shaming right there.

But A Louis Wain cat has it. It's true that shaming those who went and got their labia chopped up ain't cool. But it appears that shaming (e.g., large labia are gross) is powering a lot of this shit. So let's say I'm shaming the shamers. To those who have internalized the shaming, my message is this: I too, have felt ashamed of my body for reasons that were absolutely related to cultural norms. I've been there, although no slicing happened. It's not a happy place to be. There's a way out, and the way out is rejecting these cultural norms that are deleterious.

So, I want to beat up these cultural forces. I want to persuade those who perpetuate them that this Is Not a Good Thing. Unfortunately, a woman who says to her elderly mother, "shave your bits or your OBGYN is going to puke" is perpetuating this shit. But I get it. It's not the daughters' fault. Is is, however, a Bad Thing.
posted by angrycat at 7:40 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a guy, the one thing I notice that isn't talked about most times is that there is a pretty prominent misnomer that the size of one's labia is an indicator of promiscuity. That is to say, it's a common belief that "loose" or "meaty" labia get that way from "frequent use". I'd wager this is a bigger part of the public opinion on them, whether it's said outright or not.

what... I don't even...

Christ on a bicycle guys - is this true?!
posted by likeso at 7:59 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, labiaplasty is just a neutral, individual choice that we should not criticize. Just like women poisoning their eyes with belladona to get bigger pupils should not be criticized. Just like women crushing their internal organs with corsets should not be criticized. Just like binding girls' feet and crippling them should not be criticized. Just like eating disorders should not be a cause for concern.
posted by yarly at 8:22 AM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sugary cosmic genitals? Sign me up!

Wait, that can't be right ...
posted by krinklyfig at 8:32 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I should have added a sarcasm tag to my comment, but I kind of hoped it wouldn't be necessary. I basically feel like the person above who mentioned realizing that there were 'right' and 'wrong' feet- it seems like every two years or so I become aware of a new body part that I'm supposed to monitor and care about and fret over if my personal version falls into the 'wrong' category. I'm basically too lazy to add to my long-established short list of body parts I do care about, though, so while it's interesting to see how many different kinds of labia there are, I'm not too bothered about mine.
posted by MadamM at 8:52 AM on May 23, 2011


likeso: "Christ on a bicycle guys - is this true?!"

Yeah, it is a stupid but pretty wide spread piece of "folk wisdom". Really really stupid. I remember first hearing it on SNL in some jokes about Madonna's book "Sex". "she has seen so much action you could use her labia to measure the first down in a football game" or something like that. And yeah, it doesn't work that way, sex does not stretch or expand labia as far as I know.

As an aside, there are analogous things that actually happen - for example an ignorant American* doctor will sometimes cause a boy who is not circumsized to have an over-sized stretched out foreskin, by having him pull it back and stretch it for cleaning before there has any hygienic or medical purpose to doing so.

* I say American doctor because most other doctors either won't see a circumsized penis or won't see an uncircumsised one
posted by idiopath at 9:02 AM on May 23, 2011


Stunned. Just... stunned.

Though I guess it's par for the course. When I was in school, a classmate began to develop mature breasts earlier than most of us. The response? She was renamed Juicy Boobs and rumors of her sexual activity began flying. We were 11.

At the exact same time, another classmate had not yet developed any breastbuds at all. She was renamed Flatsy, and the jingle advertising these dolls was sung to her every morning on the schoolbus.

Sometimes you can't win for losing.
posted by likeso at 9:31 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a gender studies lecturer in uni who compared labiaplasty to female circumcision. Not as equivalents of each other, and certainly not in terms of consent, but in the sense that they are both examples of a culture that has decided how women's bodies should look, and then putting pressure on women (to extremely different degrees) to conform to that 'ideal'.

I tend to think it's even less culture driven than capital driven. All these evolving pressures point to certain people making more money at the expense of someone else's self esteem. This is the most disgusting thing about the whole enterprise:

One doctor said he receives just $1,700 in fees for prenatal care and delivery, and a mere $800 for a hysterectomy. By contrast, a labiaplasty can be done in just a few hours, in-office, for a fee upwards of $5,000 and no “income socialism” to spread the proceeds among hospitals, insurers, and group-practice partners. Underscoring just what this can mean, one conference presenter left his computer’s wallpaper—rotating images of him with his red Porsche 911—up in the background during his PowerPoint lecture. The message was tough to miss: practice cosmetic-gyn, and you too can live the life of a plastic surgeon.

These doctors don't care if you're in pain while riding your bike. If they can help get the word out that your abnormalities can be corrected by paying them a wad of cash, they are happy to promote the idea of abnormality in the first place. Incontinent? Well, you're also a little baggy. Try our Blue Plate Special!
posted by oneirodynia at 9:31 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can I just add to hal_c_on's excellent list that having eyebrows is really, really ok?

Thanks.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2011


Women just can't be themselves. Cankles, cellulite, leg hair, armpit hair, down there hair, eyebrows, breasts that are too big or too small, the wrong kind of hair on our heads, butts that are too big or too small, noses that are the wrong shape, tummies that are too big, lips that too slender. We get older, and hair should be colored, wrinkles should be removed, watch out for a few moustache or beard hairs, get those suckers laser-ed. Now, sweetie, let's talk about your labia being the wrong size or shape. Fucking Nora Fucking Ephron has to write a book about how she hates her neck.

The next fucking person that says women aren't that smart, cause, hey, look how few of them are Nobel Prize winners, is gonna get a lecture on how busy women have to be, just to keep up. And that's without the fact that it's women who end up doing one hell of a lot of what has to get done, like taking care of the kids, the laundry, the shopping, the cooking. And working full time when Partner decides to take a runner because, hey, responsibility kind of sucks.

Nora, I hate your neck, too, because you are a fabulous writer, but you're going on about it. I think women need to refuse this bullshit, to have beautiful, individual, healthy bodies with a little hair here, a curved nose there, and hair that isn't exactly like Jennifer Aniston's. You look gorgeous without stiletto heels that cripple you, with hair that's kinky, or gray, or long or short. Seriously, I watch the morning news shows, and the men are outside in suits in the cold, and the women are in cocktail dresses, freezing cold because stockings have been deemed dowdy. I fucking refuse. And, by the way, 1 tiny little error, and your clitoris, with the capability to give you lots of happy times, is damaged. Don't do it, girl.

Spend that money on education, and on skills so that you can be independent. Nothing nicer than being naturally lovely, and financially independent.
posted by theora55 at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Several years ago, my company was approached by two separate physicians who perform labiaplasties and vaginal reconstruction, each asking if we would submit a proposal for publicity representation. I took preliminary meetings with both practices, along with several of my colleagues.

During the meetings, both physicians initially emphasized that the majority of surgeries they performed were reconstructive and corrective, often to restore function and/or appearance after accidents, rape, childbirth or previous surgeries botched by another physician. We were presented with photos and videos showing natural, post-surgery or post-childbirth structural problems that needed to be corrected. We discussed non-cosmetic issues that might arise for a woman who had protruding labia, including discomfort during sexual activity. We briefly touched on hymenoplasty, which both physicians offered as a non-advertised surgery.

Raising awareness about reconstructive /corrective surgeries through the media is often one of the best things about my job. During the initial meeting at the first practice, my impression was that the work these physicians were doing was helping women in need, and I'm quite sure they were, for some percentage of their patients.

We also discussed patients' beauty ideals and learned that quite a few women requested surgery for cosmetic reasons because they or their partners felt their genitals were ugly, compared to what they saw on the average porn star or Playboy model. This is normal: plastic surgeons undoubtedly see potential patients all the time who have either unrealistic or idealized perceptions of how they should look. A good surgeon will address this during an initial consultation and discuss both a patient's motivations for having surgery as well as what they would like to get out of it. Cosmetic surgeons should never over-promise. In most cases, good ones suggest incremental changes, not full makeovers.

Eventually, the conversations turned to the Dr. Matlock of Dr. 90210 mentioned in the Atlantic article. As the article explains, being a standard OB/Gyn isn't necessarily lucrative. But labiaplasty and vaginal reconstruction are not usually covered by insurance, and then only if the surgery is restoring function so gynecologic surgeries can therefore be more lucrative than an everyday practice or even reconstructive surgeries.

Both physicians wanted to be the next Dr. Matlock. This was a problem for us. I'm sure the doctor is very good at what he does. But in his media interviews and appearances, he's selling a purely cosmetic, aesthetic surgery with (I suppose) the possible exception of hymenoplasty.

Ultimately, we were concerned that by promoting vaginoplasty and labiaplasty, we'd be adding to the ongoing narrative in the media which presents a distorted negative perception of beauty and body image. My colleagues and I left those final meetings openly wondering amongst ourselves how much damage a pr campaign could do that told women they needed to fix the appearance of their vaginas. Or to conform to some sort of non-existent standard.

Raising awareness for reconstructive procedures is important. But we felt that message would be lost to the more sensational "look like a porn star" and "restore your virginity" ones. Women in the Western world (particularly young women) get told far too often in popular media that they're not pretty enough, thin enough sexy enough or good enough. There are already so many cultural messages lying to women and telling them their vaginas are dirty, ugly or worse. Why be part of that problem?

We declined to submit proposals to either.

If you're interested in hearing why some women have undergone labiaplasty, in their own words, check out this hour-long documentary: The Perfect Vagina.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on May 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


As a guy, the one thing I notice that isn't talked about most times is that there is a pretty prominent misnomer that the size of one's labia is an indicator of promiscuity.

I have heard some rank stories regarding men, women, sex, watermelons in the desert, etc.

I have NEVER heard this. Also, I'm pretty sure you used misnomer incorrectly.

Can I just add to hal_c_on's excellent list that having eyebrows is really, really ok?

Thanks.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 9:45 AM on May 23 [+] [!]


FOR REAL! In fact, when I see a woman with a thin stylized line above her eyes, I think its some kind of tattoo. Only when I get close am I all "yowzers...I'm an alien here...take me to your leader and shit".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:10 PM on May 23, 2011


As a guy, the one thing I notice that isn't talked about most times is that there is a pretty prominent misnomer that the size of one's labia is an indicator of promiscuity.

I have heard this. I think The only people who actually believe this are those who couldn't label the parts of the vulva anyway.

There's a lot of talk in here about the "average" porn star having the small labia we see in the "after procedure" pictures. The link to the Australian video in the FPP shows that even those porn stars don't have labia like that anyway, that Australian law prevents them from showing female genitals in "detail".

Besides, my friend tells me that in a lot of the porn he watches, the vulvas vary from woman to woman from large lips to small lips, dark lips, light lips, and pretty much everything in between. You don't have to buy "LARGE LABIA LADIES 13" to see porn stars with protruding labia.

zarq: Thanks for that link. I plan on watching that later.
posted by King Bee at 1:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always thought people who de-eyebrow themselves have to do it because they despair of reaching the awesome heights of luxurious beauty expressed by my eyebrows.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


stockings have been deemed dowdy

I do not pointedly avoid media or popular culture, but I don't read Cosmo either. But I seriously have never heard this. Really? Not that I hardly ever wear skirts anyway, but I had no idea. What am I supposed to be reading or watching in order to feel self-conscious?
posted by desjardins at 1:54 PM on May 23, 2011


Nobody's taking my black tights from me. I don't care if I never have sex again. Better celibacy and black tights.
posted by angrycat at 2:12 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately this must be true because that is the second time I've heard that stockings are dowdy. I already know that sweaters and coats and shawls and sleeves are dowdy because as everyone knows tiny, underweight women who walk the red carpet in winter do not feel the cold-- only someone who is embarrassed by their upper arms would ever wear sleeves in January!


And NEWSFLASH!!!!!! Someone in the know has informed me that a certain person's certain parts look like "Before" pictures before sex and "After" pictures after sex-- the shop closes for business, if you get my drift.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:13 PM on May 23, 2011


Fucking hell. The thought of articles and doctors advocating labioplasty makes me almost as stabby-feeling as more severe female genital mutilations.

If your genitalia are causing you pain, that's one thing. But in my experience, more labia certainly = more lubricating area, and that's nothing but a good thing.

If your partners dislike the look of your genitalia, QUIT FUCKING THOSE JERKS!
posted by IAmBroom at 11:28 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have NEVER heard this. Also, I'm pretty sure you used misnomer incorrectly.

I may have used "misnomer" incorrectly, but the rest? Yeah, a fairly prominent (and obviously inaccurate ) rumor where I'm from.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:01 AM on May 24, 2011


Curious how one tells work they're taking off for that treatment?
posted by stormpooper at 6:41 AM on May 24, 2011


stormpooper: "Curious how one tells work they're taking off for that treatment?"

For most employers, I would think this would suffice: "I need X amount of time off for medical reasons. I'm having a surgical procedure. Don't worry, it's nothing serious."
posted by zarq at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2011


Yeah, a fairly prominent (and obviously inaccurate ) rumor where I'm from.

My condolences.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:31 PM on May 24, 2011


Argh. I do have one inner labium (?) which is much longer than the other, and does at times inconvenience me or cause me physical discomfort. And I do kind of hate it. But WOW, I do not hate it anything LIKE enough to *actually get it chopped off*! Eek.

I'm kind of interested in the question of who gets this procedure done, besides people who need it for reconstructive reasons. It seems to me that this would not be likely to be someone's only major point of body dysmorphia. I could be wrong, but I expect that most people would be more likely to focus on more commonly visible "defects". Is this a surgery which is most often performed on people who have had other surgical alterations? Somehow that would be a bit less disturbing to me than the idea that many people would be so fixated on altering the appearance of their labia, an area of the body which I assume that most people one runs into are not going to have a chance to evaluate in detail, that this would be the only cosmetic surgery that they would want.

And yeah, as a straight girl, I have pretty much no idea what normal labia (or indeed breasts) look like. It took me years to find out I wasn't actually a complete freak for having one much longer than the other. But hey, my Charming Gentleman Friend very much appreciates the bits as they are, and no one else has ever complained about them either. So I can't bring myself to worry too much about it. Except to growl a little bit when the long one gets pinched in my jeans or something.
posted by Because at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2011


Is this a surgery which is most often performed on people who have had other surgical alterations?

Interesting question. Wish I knew the answer.

My understanding is that until it was popularized as "virginity restoration" and "look like a porn star down there" vaginal reconstruction and/or labiaplasty was most frequently performed to either tighten the vagina or restore urinary function after childbirth, or to repair damage if a woman had been violently raped as an adult or molested as a child.

I wonder what motivates patients to have those procedures these days.
posted by zarq at 6:47 PM on May 24, 2011


I wonder what motivates patients to have those procedures these days.

I watched the documentary you linked to, zarq. The one woman we actually see get the procedure in the film is actually quite gorgeous; maybe she's had other plastic surgery, I couldn't tell (it certainly didn't look like she had). She mentions that her sister constantly teases her about her protruding labia, even to the point of telling her boyfriends. Apparently this sister brings it up at parties, and the (idiotic) guys at the parties try to get her to show her labia so they can gawk and make cruel statements.

What the hell?

They briefly show the vulva of this young woman, and there wasn't really anything wrong at all that I could see. She doesn't mention any physical discomfort her larger labia give her. The actual procedure and healing process seems to cause her an awful lot of pain. When they are removing the stitches, she actually is reduced to tears, due to pain and the emotional overload of what she's doing. It's pretty hard to watch.

One of the doctors in the film admits to performing the surgery on a 16 year old. Even "generations of women from the same family" are coming in to get these procedures done.

The filmmaker is successful in getting one of the women to give up on the idea of surgery, by getting her to make a mold of her vulva for the Great Wall of Vagina project. The woman admits that she doesn't know what a "normal" vulva is supposed to look like. Actually, after the mold is made and she sees her vulva "disembodied" from herself, she realizes it doesn't really look anything like she had herself perceived.
posted by King Bee at 9:10 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


King Bee writes "Even 'generations of women from the same family' are coming in to get these procedures done."

If there is a medical problem then this makes sense; at least some women will have large labia just like their mothers or sisters. And once one person manages to resolve a hereditary problem they tend to tell other members of their family about it and some of the happy customers are going to be evangelical about it.

At least it sure worked that way with LASIK in my family.
posted by Mitheral at 10:23 PM on May 24, 2011


Are your labia pink enough? No? Then dye them.

Better article: How long are most labia?

There are multiple books focusing on labia as individual works of art; here's one.

Of course, you can always color in labia any color you like. You don't even have to stay within the lines. It may be more fun that way. (Here's another one, misnamed.) (And one for us guys, or gays, or... anyone, really.)

Back to things that make me feel stabby. A video about a porn graphics manipulator, manipulating labia images, and a plastic surgeon who does these the labial surgeries (link goes to article; video inside).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:45 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the other links -- the dye one is super weird. The video is in one of the FPP links, though (and some of its most shocking images come from directly from that longer documentary that zarq linked above).
posted by Forktine at 8:30 PM on May 28, 2011


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