Plucked, Tucked, and Fucked

¿Rolling Stones? No, gracias

¿Rolling Stones? No, gracias (Photo credit: alvarezperea)

As a no longer young woman who doesn’t travel with the movers and shakers of society, it sometimes takes me a while to hear about trends and movements.  Last night, I saw an article on Facebook that horrified me.  So much so, I suspected it was a hoax, and googled.  Labiaplasty.  Not a hoax. A (sur)real cosmetic plastic surgery, available at a doctor’s office near you.  Heh.

Just in case you’re as behind the times as I am, labiaplasty is a surgery to trim, or completely remove, a woman’s inner labia.  Ready for the kicker?  This is a purely optional procedure.

So I ranted with my feminist FB buddies for a bit, and then kept googling.  I did find instances of women who said they chose to have the procedure done for more than aesthetic reasons, citing discomfort when running or biking.  I read about one woman who said she was tired of her lips falling out of her underwear.  Now those are lips.  Except when I continued reading, it turns out she was referring to thong underwear. What’s that, dear?  Your dental floss isn’t as comfortable as you’d like it to be?  Get off my lawn!

old lady feeding pigeons

old lady feeding pigeons (Photo credit: mvhargan)

Adult women look different from young girls, the body changes in many ways.  This surgery seems to be an effort to replicate the appearance of prepubescent girls.  As a woman, as a mother, as a sorta kinda feminist, I am appalled.  Exactly how does this fit into “first do no harm?”  Those labia aren’t like your appendix, serving no function.  They are part of your body’s natural defenses, protecting the vagina and urethra, have glands that produce secretions that kill bacteria, and I’m no gynecologist, but I’m pretty sure they help keep your urine from spraying out between the bowl and the seat.  As someone who is a designated toilet scrubber, I approve of this function.

I am naturally slim, always was.  Somehow, it’s more socially acceptable to admit to surgical body sculpting and radical diets than to say this.  We, as women, are supposed to spend our entire lives hating our images, taking ever more extreme measures to look like a continually changing physical ideal.  Men seem to be jumping on this bandwagon for themselves, can be found waiting to have their eyebrows threaded, pedicures done, chests waxed, and of course, cosmetic surgeries.

How much more can we hate ourselves?  We starve, we shave, pour hot wax and rip it off, send electric shocks through our pores, apply acid to remove layers of skin, vacuum fat, lift, tuck, stick bits of plastic on our eyeballs, we paint, we polish, tattoo, pierce, inject water, silicone, and botulism.

But after I logged off, and kept thinking, that pesky little voice in my head kept whispering.  You know the voice, the one that calls you out on your own bullshit and contradictions. Is this really so different than any other plastic surgery done for purely cosmetic reasons? I’ve never had any plastic surgery done, and I’m not likely to, but I can’t say I wouldn’t if an opportunity presented itself.  The younger, more militant me hates this.

I have what I like to think of as probiscis magnificus.  Yanno, a nose that qualifies as a shnoz.  When I was younger, the opportunity for a nose job presented itself.  Did I already hate my nose, wish it didn’t look like a mountain climbing challenge?  Yes I did.  But I  declined the offer, because it was so against my political views, my belief that each of us needs to embrace who we are, including our physical characteristics.  In other words, my shnoz is and always was a part of me, and our physical self contributes to who we become, our self image in every way.  I’d also had my nose broken twice.  It hurts like hell, and I wasn’t in a phase of life where I wanted to volunteer for pain.

At this stage in my life, though, I’m not so young, perky, or firm.  I’m in reasonably good shape, but my skin isn’t so tight.  I’ve nursed three children.  I know who I am, and understand physical changes won’t change the woman I’ve become.  So I’ve thought about it, and if I won the lottery, I might have a rhinoplasty done, and a boob lift to get the girls back to the zip code they used to reside in.  Is there a difference between these procedures and labiaplasty?  I could justify a nose job for medical reasons, the two breaks left me with scar tissue that make my nasal passages permanently stuffy and a snore that rivals an old coal train.  No justification other than vanity for a breast lift.  I think this means I don’t have the right to judge anyone else’s elective procedures.  What’s the line?

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: *Bitch Cakes*)

64 comments

  1. Seems like all that banging head against wall the other day did some good – hopefully no lasting damage to your head, or the wall. Funny, funny post, although it left my male sensibilities a little queasier than I usually feel this time of the morning. Once the coffee, cigarettes, and Valium kick in I’ll read it again. Thanks again for something completely unexpected. (wife loved it too – women have such stronger constitutions than men)
    Later…Mrs. Fringe. You keep me on the edge.

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    1. Why, thank you coyotero 🙂 And thanks to your wife, I try to write in ways that can appeal to both women and men.

      Husband is hoping I’ll stop ranting now that I wrote my thoughts down–though he didn’t believe it either when I first told him about the procedure, and did his own googling. 🙂

      Raising my mug on this frozen island, joining you for a cybersmoke and coffee.

      PS: What’s one more dent, right?

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        1. ❤ That's what is so special about you, your authenticity.
          But here's where I keep tripping. Those plastic images change every 10-20 years. Surgically altering the face or body parts to chase a vision that isn't stagnant…what could be more sad?

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  2. Shocked the hell out of me when I read the article. I can see real reasons for having it done, in some cases. What really bothered me most was the manipulation being done by the surgeons, making perfectly normally formed women believe they had some sort of imperfection, and that removing a part of their body would make them more attractive. Where does it end? What if someday it becomes the height of fashion to take off your left foot? Or, I don’t know, bind the feet of young girls? Which way are these going, forward or back?

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    1. Exactly, it does feel as if we’re moving backwards. When I think of the 70’s, when women rejected girdles and torpedo bras, and look at what’s happening now, I can only assume it isn’t a gentle descent, but a plummet. 😦

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  3. Love this post and sympathise with your designated job in life. This ‘procedure’ has crossed the pond and there are a couple of surgeons making heaps fixing up the botch jobs.
    Guess it makes anal bleaching a tad passé.

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    1. Thank you Mrs Carmichael 🙂
      From the searches I did last night, I saw this isn’t limited to a wacky American quirk, but it’s being done in several countries. Yes, I saw many cases of the surgery being performed, and then needing to be redone. So frightening.

      Oh no! Anal bleaching is already passe? Once again, I’m a day late and a surgical procedure short. 😉

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  4. The purist in me hates this. Not because it’s plastic surgery, but because in my (admittedly old-fashioned, but not THAT old-fashioned) world, the only people who are gonna see that stuff are either ourselves or our intimates.

    I don’t hate myself enough to lob off my nether regions. As for my partner, after baby #3 I’ve adhered to a strict “lights-out” policy. Nobody wants to see that shit. 😛

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    1. Exactly! I can get behind plastic surgery in general when I hear women talk about doing it for themselves, but really, how many of us are contorting and examining our labia? Puts me in mind of the women’s consciousness raising groups, but somehow I don’t think this is what Gloria Steinem had in mind.

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      1. Yes, this is a vital point. You can do something for YOU… the aforementioned repair to the nose, a bit of breast relocation (ha) …and it can be for you. Honestly, truly for YOU. this honestly seems different on a very basic level on how and why it’s being done, who it’s being done for, the standard it’s meeting.

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        1. I keep coming back to this, and think this is a conversation we, as adult women, need to have. Separate from the ick, and the eek! all those nerve endings factors; are we complicit in supporting these increasingly unrealistic standards when we choose any surgery that is designed to pretend we are ten, twenty, thirty years younger than we are? I’m honestly not sure, but I think we have to look at the possibility.

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  5. I didn’t see the original article. I’d say, though, that circulation on FB points up the ridiculousness of the procedure. If people have the money and the desire, well, okay for them. Maybe the ridiculousness of this will finally put a brake on the out-of-control train.

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  6. Right, I’m totally pro whatever a person want to do to feel better about her appearance. But the only conceivable reason I can think to do this (other than the unusual cases discussed) is to be a more desirable sex OBJECT? Most guys I’ve known are pretty happy to be in the room with a naked vagina, regardless of its shape. If this is no longer true, I feel really sorry for our daughters.

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    1. I don’t *think* it has so much to do with men complaining, but more about our own self image, and maybe fears that come with identifying ourselves as equal, worthy human beings.

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  7. Well then to conceptualize ourselves as a more desirable sex object? Isn’t that what those parts are for? It’s possible they have some new use of which I’m unaware, being old and somewhat out of the loop. 😛

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  8. I would much rather young women explore their sexuality till they realize how wonderful their bodies are, just as they are. The thought of taking a knife to any part of my body gives me the heebeegeebies let alone the delicate bits.
    Women love yourself.
    I will never have anything nipped tucked lifted, poisoned or burnt. Mainly cause I am too much of a yellow belly secondly I would worry it might not work as well after.

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    1. I think the fear point is a good one. There’s fear for very practical reasons. This isn’t experimenting with a new tweezer, these are major surgeries, with major repercussions.

      I honestly would have thought women would be in a very different place at this point in time. 😦

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  9. I am with you on plastic surgery. I am who I am and I am OK with that. The search for perfection has left women looking like tupperware, and now they want to sculpt their hoohas – Good grief.

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      1. When I was in college I worked in the wardrobe department of the Moulin Rouge show in Las Vegas – that was our term for some of the enhancements that were prevalent. They had Tupper-girls.

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  10. Don’t you know, we’re over the hill now at 17. The fashion mags, porn, and everything else we’re supposed to emulate is about 15. And we wonder why abuse of young girls is so rampant.

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  11. I ranted about this on Facebook but I have a real problem with how many of the procedures we women are compelled to do to ourselves that take us back to prepubescence. Not only does it perpetuate the self-hatred and body image issues and vicious competition among women, but for the abuse of children and girls at that borderline age of consent.

    For example, the only people on this planet who naturally have essentially no visible body hair south of their neck are young children. Yet woman have it absolutely ingrained that we have to tear our hair out by the roots to be attractive, to not be “gross.” Excuse me? (And no, this isn’t limited to women anymore but far worse among us I believe.) Our breasts have to resemble those of a teenager’s to be attractive? And now genitals with the appearance of a young child? It offends me. I have to say I’ve never heard of anal bleaching… shuddering at the thought.

    I am all for wanting to look and feel attractive. But women finding their identity as sex objects is a very fine line. The example we set for the next generation is important- we have a responsibility to our daughters and their generation, too.

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    1. Yes, it seems no “good” comes of this type of procedure, designed to teach little girls they will grow into something distasteful, have women inspecting and focusing on only the most superficial, and bring us right back to the days of shame and shaming for women.

      I think sexuality can be powerful, and there are women who find their power through it, but your distinction re women finding their identity as sex objects is an important one. There is no power in hating yourself, and focusing on negating yourself as an independent adult.

      I’m disgusted that we’ve come to this point, and deeply saddened to think about what it represents.
      Anal bleaching…I really, really didn’t need to know about this.

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  12. wow no I hadn’t heard of that but my labia doesn’t hang half way down to my knees! I’m shocked you said plucked! LOL I have no boobs and when I was younger I wanted implants but couldn’t talk my parents into it and as I got older, couldn’t afford it and now, what’s the point? I now think it’s mutilation. Have you ever watched them do implants on TV? Yikes!!! You drill a valid point home with the question, do we hate ourselves so much? Sigh… so many questions!

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    1. LOL! I never watch those tv shows, I’m too squeamish.
      I was thinking of exactly what you mentioned, I have known and known of girls whose parents gifted them boob enhancement. Will labiaplasty be the next best gift for Sweet 16s?

      I believe we have to ask these questions, thanks for looking at them with me 🙂

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  13. ok, I ventured outside my comfort zone a bit and decided to see what this actually looked like. Let’s just say, I can relate to why some of these women would want to have this procedure done. Their girly parts look like they hang down uncomfortably. If I were a horseback rider with this problem, I’d be getting blisters on my vulva. If you want to see what I’m talking about, go here http://urogyn.org/gallery_labiaplasty.html. I don’t approve of having this done solely for aesthetic purposes, but I can see where it would legitimately serve a comfort function.

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    1. I did see photos as I was searching last night. I was way more freaked by the botched “after” pics. But yes, I can see where there are some instances, combined with some activities, where this could make sense. It seemed like the majority, though, were women who were striving for magical perfection, without a clear understanding that there is a range of “normal.”

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      1. I think what bothers me is that people would have so many partners and watch so much porn that they could compare their genitals with someone else’s and feel insecure.

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  14. What the hell IS anal bleaching? I feel rather out of the loop. And I ‘m still reeling from anyone being naturally slim. ;-). Great post. Except I am still feeling a bit of a wince as I read about this lobbing of labia. Ouch!

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  15. Quite a while back there was a protest for something about having unshaved muffs and unchopped pieces, pardon the expression. I just remember thinking that it was good because this whole Brazilian waxing and rearranging our parts deal has gone way too far. There’s enough to worry about in life without the old beaver being thrown under the bus (again, pardon the expression).

    Thanks for visiting my blog, btw!

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