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Vaginal Cosmetic Surgery

“The only acceptable vagina as far as the Classification Board is concerned is one that is ‘neat and tidy’ in their eye.

They basically consider the labia minora ‘too offensive’  for soft porn.”

Brad Boxall, Former Editor Picture Magazine
9 February 2010

I am indebted to Rachodactylus for drawing my attention to this clip which explains the effect of the Classification authority’s guidelines on female body dysmorphia in Australia.

Basically, any model whose genital flesh shows outside the ‘single crease’ has to have her girlie bits ‘doctored’ by the airbrushes of the graphic artists in order to be featured in nude magazines in Australia. And, according to their editors, this is solely to conform to the guidelines of the Classification Board.

The result being that more and more women believed that their own vaginas were malformed if the inner lips protruded in any way, leading to a marked increase in requests for vaginal cosmetic surgery.

Labiaplasty surgery involves cutting back the ‘frilly’ skin of the labia minora so that it remains inside the labia majora, effectively neatening and making the whole area uniform. According to Wikipedia: “As recently as 1999, surgeons usually performed labium reduction by straight amputation of the protuberant sections and then by suturing the edges together. However, this procedure sometimes created a fragile and stiff suture line as well as eliminating the natural contour and pigmentation of the labia minora. Moreover, other procedural and clinical problems existed with amputation that did not ensure a favorable outcome.

Several years later, more surgeons introduced lasers into their armamentarium and began using more refined surgical procedures, such as inferior wedge resection and superior pedicle flap reconstruction. In one outcome study, surgeons studied the results of 20 patients undergoing labiaplasty via the procedure. 95.2 percent of patients at 46 months reported being very satisfied. While five complications cropped up, all but one were handled immediately postoperatively and did not require additional hospital stays or interfere with healing.

Labiaplasty is almost always an outpatient procedure performed under anesthesia. It is debated as to whether a local or short general anesthetic delivers better patient comfort. After surgery, patients may experience some mild discomfort and variable swelling, which usually disappear for the most part after one to two weeks. Recovery times ranging from three days to two weeks are claimed on surgeons’ websites.”

Just watching the video is such an education about the huge variety of sizes, shapes and formations that make up the female genitalia. And the knowledge that the images of those perfect women depicted in porn magazines have actually been specifically altered is an encouraging revelation for the rest of us wannabees.

It’s just so terribly sad that these rulings are responsible for a widespread female perception that many perfectly formed versions of the vagina are somehow abnormal and nasty, requiring surgical intervention to cure/heal them.

And the Australian censors are not alone. This seems to be almost a world-wide policy. How many pictures/porn films have you seen where the labia minora are not perfectly symmetrical and aesthetically neat and tidy?

With my own body dysmorphia and cuntphobia issues, I can’t help feeling aggrieved that I too might have been heavily influenced by the images that I have seen in the UK media and online, even though my own ‘bits’ do actually fall within the censor’s guidelines. See my attempt to clone my pussy. Yet again, my anorexic ability to ‘not see’ what is actually there beggars belief.

Since virtually every man I have ever spoken to on the subject expresses the view that he is just grateful to be allowed in the general vicinity of a lady’s vagina and doesn’t really care about such extraneous details, it seems quite bizarre that a group of individuals from around the world should be allowed to make such a unilateral decision in an attempt to preserve some bizarre ‘public decency’ requirement.

It makes you wonder if these Classification Boards are comprised totally of men. Surely any woman would not have agreed to such a misguided set of rules? And are there such dictatorial guidelines for the male genitalia in female publications? Should we, as women, feel offended by a scrotal sac that is lop-sided or any veins that might not be symmetrical? Perhaps we should be demanding that all erections in the public domain be artificially doctored so that they appear perpendicular and without any deviation to left or right?

We don’t because, not only would that would be silly, but each penis has its own idiosyncratic personality, just like its owner, who would consider it a personal affront to have his masculinity demeaned by such interference.

So why is it deemed any different for the female gender? Are we partly to blame for allowing it? I can recall on a UK programme that I watched about this issue, some young girls having labiaplasties because their classmates and close friends/family members had laughed at their exposed inner labia. Pointed and whispered and made them feel abnormal. Whilst it’s not a body part that I deliberately waved in the direction of my own close friends in the showers after PE – so I was a little distracted as to how this had come about – it still seems rather an odd admission. Although, perhaps she was just too embarrassed to say that those friends were male, since it might be considered a reflection on her morals.

But it goes to prove that our teenagers have also been affected by what they have seen on the internet and in magazines. Any deviation from what is considered ‘the norm’ is to be marked as unusual and mocked to such a degree that surgery is enlisted to make ‘life worth living’.

These ridiculous rules have an awful lot of women’s body ‘issues’ to answer for.

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46 comments to Vaginal Cosmetic Surgery

  • Thanks for the bump, glad to see someone else posting on the issue =D

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    You’re welcome, Rhac, I’ve been trying to find a way of posting without it just sounding like me being ‘body dysmorphic’. That clip is just brilliant x

  • This is such a great post. Yes, by “magically” (air brushing, Photoshop) eliminating what is perceived as unattractive, once again women can be made to feel “ugly” or “abnormal” by media. I’ll have to watch the clip at home but I’m very anxious to see it. Thanks, Joanna!

  • This is a tough subject for me, because I’ve got some CRAZY labia, and always wondered if there was such a surgery (way before I ever saw porn). Now Labiaplasty is starting to be a trend, and although I know it’s becoming trendy for the WRONG reasons, and don’t want any young ladies to hate their bodies, I am still interested in Labiaplasty. It seems now it’s going to be ‘politically incorrect’ to want this surgery.

    The censorship part of the video: ALL WRONG, no matter what! I agree, Joanna Cake…would these men be editing and censoring PENISES? I think not.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    I read another piece on Alex and Suze where they show that the UK media are actually ‘stretching’ newspaper and magazine pics to make women look taller and thinner, changing their proportions to an extent that it would be impossible to achieve naturally. These people deserve a good slap!

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Lambchop, there are instances when a labiaplasty should be considered as a helpful operation for women – where the labia hang down low enough to interfere with day to day activities and can become irritated and sore from jogging or aerobic activity. Im certainly not against the surgery per se but it should be a very personal decision based on practicalities, not aesthetics and certainly not influenced by the media’s perception of what is ‘normal’ x

  • Lamb chop, I don’t know that this is necessarily a sexist issue. There is an extremely heavy editing bias in porn of mens penises as well (at least in the US, I can’t speak for over seas). If one were only to get their information from porn, they could safely say that the average penis was circumcised and 10 inches long. Sure, it’s not done from a censorship basis but from a “sales” (for lack of a better word) basis, but a man would have to be several standard deviations above normal in terms of size just to seem average to slightly inadequate in terms of porn. The knife cuts both ways if you’ll excuse the pun. The big benefit I can see for men, is that it is relatively widely known that male porn stars do not represent the “norm,” But imagining myself growing up in a more repressed household, and not playing sports (no locker room) i’m not sure where I would have learned that lesson.

  • The Australian Classification Board continues to baffle me. In January they banned A-cup breasts to protect underage girls, apparently all girls get B-cup or above precisely at age 18. Now, with an apparently contradictory policy, they would prefer all women be depicted without the [typically mature] appearance of their labia minora.

    WTF Australian Classification Board? Make up your mind. Do you like women or girls?

    On a side note… anyone know where I can score one of those photo editing jobs? ;o)

  • Joanna,
    Agreed…definitely a real solution to a real problem for many.

    and

    Rhacodactylus,
    Point taken! I guess since I don’t have a penis, I haven’t considered all of the ramifications of “porn penises!” :)

    Thank you both for excellent conversation on an important topic!

  • Oh, this makes me sad on so many levels! The idea of anyone else defining beauty for another is offensive, but no less offensive is the loss of sensation consequenting such surgery, and for what!? To be picture perfect down there?

    According to whom?

    I love my labia. Every last swollen and pulsating piece.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Come on Rhac! We know you guys all take a sideways peek in the men’s room! There is no similar opportunity for us ladies ;P

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    LOL, well my daughter visited when she was 17 and managed to get served alcohol in all the bars on the basis of her impressive rack… definitely considerably larger than an A or a B cup! What alternative reality to these fellows inhabit? A friend used to work as a graphic artist and had the job of attending to the complexion of an (in)famous fashion model. It used to take forever to even out her open pores and blackheads :)

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Lambchop, it was certainly not a problem of which I was aware until I started researching this piece.

    As to the penises (penii???), as I said to Rhac earlier, at least guys get to see each other in the men’s room. I know it’s not quite the same because some guys are growers – meaning they start with a small flaccid penis and grow huge proportionately – and others are showers – they start out with a relatively large penis which only becomes slightly larger once it fills with blood. But at least you get a fair idea that most blokes are not 10-12 inches long from the get go.

  • lol I thought I was the only one who said “penii”!

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Elizabeth – Yup, me too… Both mine and yours :)

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    LambChop, classical upbringing I fear ;P

  • Thanks to media, porn, etc. we’ve got women (and men!!) thinking what they’ve got doesn’t pass muster. Girls who want boob jobs, women who think their labia are abnormal and men who think they’ve been short-changed!! It’s darn tough being a human being these days!! :D

    Very interesting, Joanna… I had no idea classification boards were in some way responsible for doctored photos like that. There I was, thinking only models in Cosmo get airbrushed!!

  • All in all, I don’t actually think I’ve taken a sideways glance at a urinal, definitely in a locker room when I was in high school, or at the gym, but never at a urinal. On a side note, women aren’t naked in women’s locker rooms at the gym? I can hardly get through one morning’s workout without seeing 1-5 men naked.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Helga, It’s really scary isnt it, the knock-on effect the opinions of these unqualified and anonymous individuals can have on the average woman in the street :(

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Rhac, It’s a little different in the ladies changing rooms. Men are always looking for an opportunity to waggle their tackle whereas most of us women are so horrified by our own bodies that we keep our towels up to our chins in the communal area. And those who are brave enough to expose flesh keep their thighs firmly pressed together!

  • Disturbing trend. Even more disturbing is that the surgeon in this clip referred to labiaplasty as “improving” the look of the labia. Too many women (and increasingly more men) have no idea what an adult woman’s labia look like. The media (video and print) are shaping society’s idea of what female adult genitals are supposed to look like – trouble is, it looks more like pre-pubescent girls. I wrote a blog post a few months ago on this topic: http://bit.ly/c2jNPN because I was disturbed with the increase in labiaplasty surgery and the way it is promoted by plastic surgeons – suggesting women should be embarrassed about their genitals without surgery. I bet if you told a man that his foreskin was ugly and that he should cut it off, he wouldn’t be knocking down the surgeon’s door. He would just say, “It’s me, grow up and get used to it.”

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hi DrC! Oh, absolutely, let’s rip off those wrinkled old foreskins! Fortunately, I find Ruf’s fascinating and I know that it performs such an important role in our lovemaking. It’s like a rolling bearing that stops friction between the two different types of skin of the glans and the vagina. But, even if I didn’t recognise its value, he would be adamant about keeping it. What is it about us as women that makes us believe our bodies are ugly based on the opinion of some ill-informed man? Great post too x

  • rubym

    Sad to say I’m in the running for a labiaplasty (I suffer from elongated labia minora- inner lips) so it’s sort of a necessity for me. But in the US we have no Nat’l Health and insurance would consider the surgery cosmetic so I’d have to pay. Other than that people can do whatever they like to their nether regions. You’re still going to get old regardless (I’m 30 BTW and hate that my 20-something friends think that they are old at 30) and if you want to continue having sex, don’t stop doing whatever you’re doing because of a number. I’m single, child-free, and ethically non-monogamous and I’m not changing regardless of age or what my pussy looks like.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hi RubyM and Welcome! Hi 5 Lady, I like your attitude! At nearing 50, I am mortified to admit that the idea of being 30 once filled me with horror. I thought my life would be over once I hit that terrible number :) As to the surgery, if it’s causing physical or mental problems, it just seems all wrong that it should be considered cosmetic and, therefore, at your expense.

  • Jack

    Well…I am male and Australian – so all views expressed are tainted by that.

    First off, I thought it was brilliant that this show could be played on a Wednesday night at 9pm on free-to-air television. Also, it is worth going to the actual site for some further information, comments etc. Look for: “THE ART OF DIGITAL LABIAPLASTY Hungry Beast”

    So I have two perspectives generated from this:

    1) Soft P*rn classification.

    So its no problem showing any form of Vagina as long as it’s not for use by soft-p*rn (evidence this television show)? This raises a number of questions –

    a) How many woman get their information from soft-p*rn?
    b) Why on earth would a classification for soft-p*rn be more limiting than for free-to-air television in prime time?
    c) Who determines what is soft-p*rn versus other entertainment/information?

    2) “Improving” the body.

    Given the apparent desire by each of us to appear attractive (what that means is entirely subjective and often contrary to what someone else finds attractive) why do we gnash out teeth?

    Yes, I might find it upsetting that runway models are tall and thin and heavily made up – maybe that’s because I really don’t find them attractive. I might find it upsetting when people have tattoos (self harm scaring?), piercings (more self harm?) or even using makeup at all. I might even prefer Body odor over perfume or deodorant. Still, what is wrong with decisions to have cosmetic surgery?

    Is it that we believe we know better, have more intellect, have greater insight? That everyone who does desire surgery for non-medical conditions is in-fact being led astray and is not strong enough against the onslaught of the media. That would seem the height of arrogance…

    Now for the hypocrisy – I have three daughters and god help any person or business who suggests to them that they need change their appearance other than for purely health reasons.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hey Jack,
    I see no reason not to have full frontal nudity for women on TV at all. So often we get that ridiculous thing of women making mad passionate love with their bra firmly in place or others, who get out of their lover’s bed and drag the sheet off it so they dont show any body part. Bah, humbug!
    I think you would be amazed at how many of us women do actually watch soft porn, either with our other halves or alone to gain a little inspiration sometimes ;P
    I think it is hard for men to understand how easily influenced some women are by images and perceptions to which they are consistently exposed. Having been an anorexic, I can attest to that. For so many years I looked into the mirror and saw a woman several dress sizes larger than I actually was.
    But, it’s what I said in the piece about penises (ii), there is no ‘standard’ for a cock. They come in all shapes and sizes and that is accepted. Some can be quite small but, so long as the guy knows how to make the most of it in conjunction with all his other attributes, it’s not a problem. So, why should anyone be allowed to set a ‘standard’ for vaginas?
    Good Luck with the girls, it can be a rollercoaster :)

  • Jack

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    Can I add a small sub-note? (I will but you can ignore :) )

    Your comment on peni is wildly naive from my experience. Men do have standards to live up to for cock. As the old saying goes “Size doesn’t matter as long as it’s huge”.
    Just as woman doubt or think its unusual when men say “I don’t mind small breasts – in fact I quite like them” or “Long labia minora is what really get me going” men generally do not believe when a woman says “…It’s what you do with it” – I call shenanigans on this and believe that all men only show bravado when inside they are crying like a little – um – girl.

    Whenever I have received compliments or complaints about its size I have been happy to say that I had nothing to do with it, that it is not a skill or an effort, it just is – but secretly inside I have been very pleased. I am that shallow!

    Anyway, my reason for the note is purely to say that men as easily as self conscience as woman and I even suspect more so… (especially evidenced in the number of pump, penis enlarging drugs, and other dick-size product sales)

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    You may be right Jack. I guess I’ve only ever been with men who were in love with their own equipment but, thinking about the ‘enlargement’ opportunities that fill my spam filters, you definitely have a point. There must be a lot of men out there who are not so confident about their tackle.

  • mac

    OK, sorry I’m late to the discussion.

    What the fuck?
    I love big lips. I like licking them, touching them, and penetrating them.

    Just. Stop. It!

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Mac, If only more men would be so forthright :)

  • slicer/server

    I’ve always thought the Aussies to be a little weird, this really, well, ices the cake!

    A nice protruding labia gives character to an otherwise visually mundane organ.
    Maybe the censors are advocates of mediocrity?
    A set of meaty labial danglers really lights my fire.
    I particularly like they way they reach out to a withdrawing penis, as if trying to keep it inside.
    Munching on these delicacies is really fine dining, gives my lips something to do instead of only my tongue.
    The lady who wanted to justify surgical removal because of chafing and discomfort when exercising should consider the position of men in similar circumstances.
    Our “junk” is always there, and takes no end of abuse whether exercising or sleeping.
    My penis was circumcised at birth, and no, I wasn’t consulted. Suppose my parents thought I might be a pornstar someday? The net result has been that a good roll in the hay or an unlubricated wank can leave me sore for days!

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hey Slicer/Server – Im thinking turkey now :) Thanks for sharing your love of labia but also the alternative point of view for male genitalia. I’d not really thought about the ‘junk’ abuse involved with exercising for men but Ruf confirms your comments, although still being intact, he doesn’t suffer from the wanking problem. Personally I have no preference for either circumcised or uncircumcised willies, they are both very beautiful in their own way :) Happy New Year x

  • Jake Holden

    That shot of the inner lips being sliced off – argh! I couldn’t watch it. What a wholly unnecessary procedure.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Jake, it is truly terrifying to see what some people will do to themselves for the sake of ‘fashion’

  • Justin

    I’m late on this. How profoundly interesting this video is, and thank you for posting this. This opens up a huge can of worms–legal, aesthetic, sexual and, obviously, political. They do have some strange classifications down under. Thank you!

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hey Justin, it’s scandalous! And then you read about women who have surgery and the health problems they face as a result :(

  • Thank you for posting this. We are making an animated documentary on the subject of labia surgery. Funded by the Wellcome Trust in the UK, we are looking for woman to come forward and tell us about their real life experiences as part of our research into why woman want labia surgery. We would be thrilled if woman got in touch for an off the record confidential chat. Check our facebook site http://www.facebook.com/thecentrefoldproject

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Siobhan, Would be happy to do a dedicated post on the animated documentary and Facebook page. Do you have any contact details for women to get in touch with their stories?

  • Hi Joanna

    Thank you for your note. Yes woman can contact us with their real life experiences directly to myself at hello@thecentrefoldproject.org

    We are based in the North East of England and would love to hear from woman who have had or thought about having labia surgery for whatever reason.

    The aim of the film is to play an important role in sexual health education for woman worldwide. The film will use animated images and will not show filmed images of the people being interviewed.

    Check out http://www.facebook.com/thecentrefoldproject for further information.

    Regards
    Siobhan

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Hi Siobhan, Thanks for that. I will put up a post this week to spread the word.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    From Molly at Molly’s Daily Kiss

    I had no idea about the censorship boards quidelines in Auz and I agree, is their similar guildlines for men? I think not. This piece you have written is about a subject very close to my heart. On my blog I have started something called ‘The Pussy Pride Project’ to try to celebrate the pussy in all its wonderful different ways. I came up with the idea after reading about The Great Wall Of Vagina sculpture and wanted to try to create a blogging celebration of similar nature. I am hoping that over time it will serve as a great resource for people on this subject.

    I would love for you to add this post to the link section on the page on my blog. I have tried to leave a link to it here but your spam filter won’t let me but if you visit my blog you can find a tab for The Pussy Pride Project at the top of my blog. Also I think you would find this post http://mollysdailykiss.com/2011/06/28/more-pussy-pride-the-perfect-vagina/ very interesting.

    The whole thing makes me sad, especially when I see young attractive woman, such as in the video I mentioned above, having bits of their vaginas cut off because they think it is not pretty. However, I have a theory about some of this, which your post has just help cemented for me. Many woman now-a-days have access to pornographic images that they did have in the past, however many of them do not choose to watch more hardcore porn in which all shape and size and colour and style of pussy is shown but instead are mainly exposed to the ‘soft porn’ images which you refer to in your blog and thus are being given a false view of what other pussy’s look like. The problem is they see other pussy’s but a select version of them, which does not reflect the fact that they are all different but all beautiful in their own unique way. The solution is that woman need to be exposed to more images of pussy’s not less, they just need to be realisitc and show the huge variety that they come in

    Mollyxxx

  • I bealive all women are perfect just the way they are and should not in any way cut their shapes. This is outrageous.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    Totally agree, Amy

  • Wow, this is a shocking treatment. I agree with a poster that it is completely unnecessary and can’t believe people are getting this done. It is such a small thing and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it!!

  • Once again women are made to feel weird or inferior to others, all are normal, all are beautiful in their own way and it’s time the govt stayed the hell out of our bedrooms.

  • Joanna Cake, HavingMyCake

    I couldn’t agree more, kymbo. There was a report recently about how Theresa May supported International Women’s Day and then the following day was deporting a family with three daughters who would then become victims of female circumcision :(

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