Posted 4/24/12 by LTCL in Lifestyle

Why are Women Choosing to Have Genital Cosmetic Surgery?

Dr. Stephen Snyder (sexual therapist) www.sexualityresource.com

After viewing a recent Channel 4 filmThe Perfect Vagina by British Documentary Director and Producer Heather Leach, I understood why.

Its the explosion in the last decade of print and online close-up images of young women with, in the words of the film, hairless, neat, pink, tucked-in genitals. That and the fact that young women in everyday life are increasingly expected to go hairless as well.

Young womens pubic hair has been steadily disappearing over the past decade. In a recent study by sex researcherDr Debra Herbenick, 58.6% of young women sampled reported going hairless at least some of the time.

Dr Herbenick tells me that among the college students she talks to, most do it by shaving. Their slightly older counterparts in my Manhattan sex therapy office tend to do it by waxing. Its something many young men these days expect a woman to take care of.

Tight, tucked, and hairless

In an earlier article, Contemporary Sexuality and the Brazilian Wax, I worried that this new standard of genital beauty was bad news for young women, who hardly needed another item on their list of grooming rituals. Or another part of their bodies to obsess about.

As the film The Perfect Vagina shows, many of todays newly-waxed young women dont find their hairless vulvas very attractive. Especially the inner lips of the vulva, the so-called labia minora. These inner parts often protrude more than the tucked-in bits of porn stars — whose genitals for some reason have become the new standard.

When I came of age in the 1970s, only the most sexually hyper individuals ever looked at the kind of pornography that featured labial close-ups. And few women worried about the appearance of their labia minora because the labiawere hidden by hair and barely visible.

On todays bare genitals, though, large labia minora stand out. So after the wax salon, sometimes the next trip for a modern young woman is to the surgeons office to cut large labia down to porn-star size.

It doesnt take a genius to grasp the magnitude of the physical and emotional suffering involved. To say nothing of the waste of time and money.

The grand tour

In The Perfect Vagina, host Lisa Rogers visits the principal stations of the modern womans genital pilgrimage first the Brazilian wax salon, then the vulvar surgical suite. Both are places where a woman can expect significant physical pain.

In Part 1 of the film, Rogers introduces us to Rosie a 21 year old British woman with prominent labia minora.Its something that wouldnt have ever been an issue a few decades ago.

But now such a thing does get noticed and in a big way. So Rosie decides to end her suffering by losing an inch or so off her inner lips.

In the film, we accompany Rosie into surgery, where she is gowned and draped. We watch Rosie wince from the pain of having Novocaine injected into her labia.

After the numbing medication takes effect, we see Rosies inner lips efficiently trimmed down to porn-star size. Its not for the faint of heart.

What is to be done?

After witnessing Rosies operation, Rogers issues a challenge to the viewing public: Surely, girls, she say, There must be another way.

The remaining parts of The Perfect Vagina include explorations of some of these other ways. There is a visit to a womens group that fosters psychological healing through vulvar show-and-tell.

There are several visits to the workshop of British sculptor Jamie McCartney whose sculpture is featured above, and who over the past several years has made plaster casts of 400 womens vulvas. For many of the women who participated, the project appeared to be therapeutic as well as artistic. The completed work, entitled The Great Wall of Vagina, will have its World Premier onMay 6.

For some women, just seeing the film The Perfect Vagina itself might be of help.

But if were looking for another way, shouldnt we also just encourage women let their pubic hair grow again?

Many womens labia seem to fit in better in their natural habitat. A return to genital hair might spare many women a lot of physical pain, not to mention money and worry.

The bigger issue, of course, is pornography. It can justly be said that in the last decade weve entered The Porn Age. In future articles, well discuss some of the myriad ways in which The Porn Age has changed our thinking about sex, and about our bodies and ourselves.

Stay tuned.



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