Last week I accidentally watched a labiaplasty.
I was deep into the documentary, The Perfect Vagina, when a twenty-one year old woman from the UK, had her labia, the “inner lips” of her vulva, portioned off by a male cosmetic surgeon.
I didn’t know they were going to show the actual procedure. My toes curled as I watched the vulva that had been uniquely hers disappear under the knife forever.
What makes a woman want to go this route? What causes the shame and embarrassment, that leads to such a drastic and irreversible procedure?
I had to dig deeper.
I’m not a woman who has ever considered a labiaplasty. But I am a woman who battles her own perfectionist demon. So many of us are still engaged in this internal warfare. I want to know why.
I mean, do you love your labia? Do you find them too long? Do you wish they were symmetrical? Or that they were thinner? Do you dig your clit? Can it turn you on?
Do you think it’s too big, too fat, or not enough of something?
If you would change a thing about your vulva, have you ever asked yourself why?
Artist Jacqueline Secor paints real vulvas, just as they are. She’s painted at least eighty—and so far, no two look the same.
When I stumbled upon her work I felt both awestruck and relieved.
Here’s a woman, painting other real women, and sharing the true diversity that is natural. Jacqueline shares that her work has been tremendously healing for her.
And for others.
This isn’t about beauty. This is about power.
This is about overcoming the need to conform to the unrealistic standards that some entity stamps onto the minds of women—how most of us feel this pressure to conform to a certain ideal of “perfect, pretty, desirable,” and then apologize when we’re not.
This is about acknowledging that women are human beings and not objects of perfection to conquer or obtain.
If we’re all different between our legs, why are so many of us obsessed with looking exactly the same?
And who set the standard?
Most women who undergo labiaplasty want their vulva to look symmetrical, tucked in, and in my opinion, undeveloped—like a flower not yet in bloom.
Any intelligent person can trace this youthful look back to it’s source of origin: mainstream pornography.
The nonsensical take-away from this booming multi-billion dollar industry, for men and women alike is: you’re not desirable as a human unless your genitals look a certain way.
Do we really need any more shame to reside in our pelvic region?
According to the documentary, most of the women who underwent the procedure did not regret it—apparently, many reported hotter sex, more pleasure, easier orgasm, and released inhibition.
I’ll leave you with this question: Is it the inadequate physical body that requires alteration, or is it the psychological ground that needs to be excavated, to produce lasting transformation and a sense of well-being?
Whether or not we’ve thought about drastically altering our own vulvas, many of us unconsciously seek ways to stay small, neat, and tucked quite nicely into this crumbling patriarchal society.
This shrinking is the antithesis of the medicine we each bring to the planet at this time.
For us, I desire expansion.
It’s time to own who we are—and that includes the body we’re in.
Could our bodies be better, and more capable? I’m sure. Must they look a certain way for us to discover and own our intrinsic worth? I hope not.
You weren’t born to be tucked in and pretty. And you’re not the length of your labia.
Author: Jillian Anderson
Editor: Renée Picard
Images by Jacqueline Secor and used with permission