the new “normal”

Some of you probably knew this one was coming. That’s right the infamous post on vaginal cosmetic surgery and in particular labiaplasty.

A discussion on vaginal plastic surgery is of utmost importance when it comes to menstruation because the two are inseparable and the way they are portrayed in the media play a pivotal role in how women view themselves. In my review of U by Kotex’s “Break the Cycle” social media campaign, I found this exact discussion taking place in one of their Social Experiment web commercials entitled “Rorschach Test”

In analyzing the web commercial and discussing all matters of women’s health, a friend of mine referred me to the 2008 documentary by Lisa Roger entitled The Perfect Vagina.

I took some time to watch the documentary and was surprised by women’s growing concern of how their vagina looks. If you do decide to view the video I must caution that it is quite graphic, which I would argue makes it even more important to view.

I must start by asking, how many of us have actually seen many vaginas in our lifetime? How many of us actually know the parts, the description, how it “ought” to look? Do we take the time as women (and men) to educate ourselves about all things vagina? I certainly haven’t, but realize I probably should. A few weeks back I picked up The V Book, a book dedicated to educating women about their vaginas. I leaf through it here and there and each time I am stunned by how much I don’t know about my own body.

The Perfect Vagina sheds light on the fact that the media and even women themselves view their vagina as something that should fit within a particular ideal. The “normal” vagina, according to our culture today, is infantile – small and hairless, fake, in essence, Photoshoped.

The procedure seems painful and embarrassing. Why would a woman as young as 16 want such a procedure done?

While the porn industry has a huge part to play in all of this, we as women are also to blame. We are to blame because we allow men to dictate what is and is not a “normal” vagina. And we allow women to do the same. By getting the procedure done, we as women are saying that it is okay for us to change even the most intimate and unique parts of our bodies. And for what? For our partner, for men, for ourselves?

The Toronto Cosmetic Clinic’s website states how labiaplasty can actually help a woman’s self-esteem. The site states:

“the result of the procedure may help [women] reclaim their self-esteem, improve self-confidence and alleviate the discomfort that arose from large labia.”

Not surprisingly if you scroll down on the webpage for the Toronto-based clinic, you will realize labiaplasty is only the beginning of many painful vaginal-altering procedures women can undergo in order to obtain the “perfect” vagina.

I hope that if you are one of the women or men who agree with labiaplasty that you will take some time to watch the documentary. Take some time to get to know the diversity of women’s bodies, how in fact we are all designed differently and no matter what anyone says:

“It just doesn’t matter what your vagina looks like. Love it. Love your flaps” (Roger, The Perfect Vagina, 2008).

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