Earlier in the month, when I clicked an inbox link to a webpage for a fundraising campaign, I did not expect to get lost in the political quagmire of women’s rights, feminism, grooming, surgical enhancement, self esteem and pop culture. A vaguely disinterested click of the mouse quickly sucked me into a black hole of supercilious eye-brows, choking on bile, snarky tweets, and a lot of audible exclamations of “What the hell is wrong with you people?”
Indeed, our culture is pathologically obsessed with crotch. Your crotch. My crotch. Celeb crotch. Political crotch. Adult Crotch. Child crotch. It is not oil that drives the economy, but genitals.
The fact that sex sells is nothing new or hardly a secret, but the extent to which people in 2011 will go to ensure that their groins are groomed, manipulated and stimulated is preposterous. While children starve to death on dusty, miserable roads in Somalia, and youth are gunned down in Norway by a madman, North American women are paying for “facials” and dye jobs for their vagina, bleaching their anuses, and forking over boatloads of hard earned cash to ensure their lady garden is waxed into aesthetically pleasing whimsy. Glued on rhinestones? Sure! Why not?! To achieve a more socially acceptable look below the belt, many women are choosing to go under the knife, ensuring that their vulva is perceived as plump, supple and youthful looking. Entire industries have sprung up, waiting to capitalize on the vanity and insecurity of women. Current trends indicate that pubic displays of foolishness will only become more shallow and costly as time goes on.
The Case of the Ugly Vagina
How much time do you spend gazing soulfully at your cooter? Does the entrance to your shame cave look like a hairy turkey wattle? When you pull your pants down to use the toilet, do you ache inside and mourn your less than porn-worthy puta?
Yet, an explosion in the rapid growth of the Cosmetogynocology industry indicates that an overwhelming number of women do. Not only is surgical enhancement for the vagina becoming common place, it is the fastest growing area of plastic surgery today. That’s right: surgical alteration of she-crotch is becoming more popular than breast implants, nose jobs, face-lifts, and liposuction. Amongst the more popular procedures: mons pubis liposuction to ensure your v-spot gives less camel toe, clitoral hood reductions, reduction of the labia minora (bye bye, saggy lips!), augmentation of the labia majora (because adult women should look like toddlers down below!), and vaginal tightening. Any number of these procedures has a practical, medically responsible application: some women experience traumatic and disfiguring births that leave them in a lot of pain, incontinent, and prolapsing. Restoring the bits and bobs to their original condition is prudent. However, the practical application of these procedures are not where the growth is coming from.
Two demographics are driving the trend: aging Boomers and very young women, barely out of their teens. Boomer reasoning is simple: recapture youth. So why are droves of young women, some as young as twelve and thirteen, seeking out the services of plastic surgeons to make their genitalia look more like Barbie doll, and less like nature intended?
Call it backlash from a culture that has been infused with pornography. The push from media, entertainment/ music industries and trickle-down influence from a highly paternalistic society which worships youth and glorifies hyper-sexuality. A new generation of women are growing up, and are made aware that they don’t look like THAT “down there”. Young men are introduced to sex via waxed, enhanced and digitalized images of women, and develop an expectation that their partners will look the same . Psychological insecurity, projected aesthetic ideals, a need to feel normal, and a lack of anything to compare to: this is the fuel that pushes the elective cosmetic surgery machine ahead.
A woman has the right to do with her body as she chooses, regardless of how trend driven it may be. What begs to be asked is whether or not these women are being told that there is a major dearth of scientific information available to them regarding the long term implications of cosmetic genital surgery. Do they realize that their surgeons do not know or understand how a drastic labiaplasty may effect their ability to give birth in the future? That there is a lack of statistics about the sexual function (or dysfunction) following the removal of tissue and nerves that play a crucial role in pleasure and enjoyment? Akin, do surgeons who preform these painful and drastic procedures care that they potentially engender new and undocumented health risks on young women? That, according to a 2008 report by the World Health Organization, they are preforming genital mutilation, even if it is a sanitized version?
Generations of women before us fought, died and suffered to achieve some semblance of equality. To gain personhood. Vote. Drive a car. Be emancipated. It is a sad testimony of how selfish we have become, when we squander these rights that were so hard won, and expend them on selfish and futile vainglory.
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