Update: Labiaplasty – The Australian Classification Board decides what vaginas must look like in soft porn. If a vagina has excess tissue it may be labelled as “offensive”, so porn companies must digitally edit or remove parts of the labia, leading to only one type of vagina see in porn magazines:
You don’t like your bits and twinkles?
Have you seen the documentary film, The Perfect Vagina? It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. I sat through the entire thing feeling squeamish, legs crossed tight, one hand over my eyes and a little curious about the look of my own undercarriage. Why all the tension and peculiar interest? The film is about vaginal cosmetic surgery, and according to this film, it’s growing in popularity.
So what is it about the vagina that’s causing a ruckus? Ladies and gentlemen, meet the labia minora.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
According to Wikipedia: The labia minora (singular: labium minus), also known as the inner labia, inner lips, or nymphae, are two flaps of skin on either side of the human vaginal opening, situated between the labia majora (outer labia, or outer lips). Inner lips vary widely in size, colour, and shape from woman to woman.
Labiaplasty (930,000 Google search results), also known as vaginal rejuvenation, labia minora contouring, labial reshaping, female genital surgery or labial reduction, is the surgical procedure of reducing the length of the inner labia or inner flaps. (I have also learned of a procedure called vaginoplasty that tightens the vagina and muscles surrounding it.)
There is one profound question one cannot help but to ask: Why?
As if we need another item on our already massive list of things to stress over, or another body part to obsess about. Why is it now a big deal if our inner flappage is a bit longer than the outer bits?
According to the film, women who want this surgery are seeking a more ‘youthful’ appearance and/or want to balance out the appearance of their labia minora with the surrounding tissue. Some women have claimed to be embarrassed of the length of their labia minora. Some say they’ve been ridiculed or teased by family members or partners. Others claim the length has caused them to have problems doing certain activities or from wearing certain clothing articles. Others say that it has caused (psychological) difficulties in the bedroom.
The influence/pressure for wanting a more ‘balanced and youthful’ appearance is said to come from the aesthetic vah-jay-jays featured in pornographic magazines and films or the skilful yet deceitful technique known as beauty magazine airbrushing. Some also blame plastic surgeons for developing such a procedure and the women who have the money to pay for it (the average cost ranges between 5,000-10,000 USD).
Photo credit: Flickr Commons
I also can’t help but to ponder, when did waxing and shaving become a part of our beauty routine? According to sex researcher Dr. Debra Herbenick, young women’s pubic hair has been steadily disappearing over the past decade and that younger women tend to shave it off while older women choose to wax. What happened to good old-fashioned ‘maintenance’ where we left a bit of the forest intact? Trees do look naked without leaves. Is a bit of pubic hair just not sexy anymore?
Anyways, I tried to find some statistics about large labia minora cases (also known as labia hypertrophy) and unsurprisingly could not find any solid numbers. In all honesty, I’m sure this number is huge.
But, just because your labia minora peaks out from your labia majora, does it really mean you have a problem? According to the documentary the typical size of the labia minora ranges from two to ten centimetres (0.8 to 3.9 inches). Supporting this range, a study by the Department of Gynaeology in the UK in 2004 shared the length of the labia minor of women between ages 18-50 to be 0.78 to 3.9 inches.
The fact of the matter is, the labia minora comes in varying symmetry, sizes and colours and are influenced by things such as genetics, childbirth, hormones and age.
What are the risks of the surgery?
I’ve read that some of the risks can include temporary numbness, bleeding, pigmentation changes, pain, decreased feeling in that area, asymmetry between the inner and outer labia, excess scar tissue buildup (that can appear as lumps), hematoma (broken blood vessels or blood clot), puckering of the skin and sexual dysfunction. It is also important to note that there has not been any substantial findings or research as to the long-term consequences of such a surgery.
If you really love me, don’t you also love my dangles and bobs?
What exactly is the idea of the perfect vagina anyway? Not too tight? Not too baggy? Or in the words of this film “hairless, neat, pink and tucked-in”? If you ask me, the perfect vagina is a myth.
Photo credit: Wikipedia (A variation of female pubic hair on a mature female.)
I asked ten random guys ages 25-35, if they thought the size of the labia minora matters. Here are their responses:
1. “It does not matter. What’s important to me are a woman’s curves.”
2. “I don’t think this matters. I don’t think men are that fussy.”
3. “For me it doesn’t matter at all. I actually think it’s quite sexy if you can see them.”
4. “I think it’s a total misunderstanding that any female would get this surgery. I think it’s a total minority of guys that would wish this for a woman. This part of the body is like the ears, it’s a part you cannot judge by prettiness and it doesn’t make sense to me to alter it. This type of surgery, if done just for looks, is a waste of money. Genetically we are coded to be turned on by a woman’s vagina pretty much however it looks.”
5. “All labia minora are created equal.”
6. “I for one, don’t care at all.”
7. “I’d much prefer that she is comfortable with herself versus being neurotically insecure enough to get surgery.”
8. “I don’t think vaginas were meant to look ‘pretty’.”
9. “Couldn’t give a damn.”
10. “I’m sure a guy is just happy to be there.”
There we have it.
Perhaps we should stop reading/watching so much porn, stop perusing beauty magazines and comparing our vaginas. We could also save ourselves a lot of pain and/or money by bringing pubic hair back. :)
Making love, looking good, feeling great about who you are doesn’t involve being what someone else thinks you ‘should’ be. Of course it’s a person’s own choice to have this type of surgery or not, but no matter what, a little more self-love couldn’t hurt. It’s not always easy, but a little bit goes a hell of a long way.
To read more (one for the guys) click here.
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The key to long-term love and great sex:
Relephant: Sarah Silverman on Lady Bits, Comfort, Vaginnaaaaaa:
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