A Personal View of Labiaplasty

Labiaplasty – A Personal View

Did you know that 20% of women have elongated labia and that many of them consider labiaplasty as a solution?

I wasn’t aware of it until a few months back when I was gobsmacked at a story on Hungry Beast about the growth in this type of cosmetic surgery – if you’ve read any other posts you’ll know I’m not a big fan of cosmetic surgery! I had no idea that the labia was even a candidate for surgery, never mind that it had its own name: labiaplasty.

What is labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is basically the removal or reduction of the labia by surgery – yes, cutting off bits of your lady lips so that they look more like the pics of other womens’ genitals. In our culture, most women see other womens’ genitals in pornography. And did you know that the regulations governing pornography say that there cannot be over-emphasis on genitals (yes I know!) – that means the female genitals you see in magazines have been Photoshopped – given a digital labiaplasty.

Now the whole porn industry – with the incredible physical damage that is done to women’s bodies – is a whole other discussion. But it’s interesting don’t you think that it’s government regulation which is essentially supporting an industry which is telling women their normal body isn’t, well, normal?

Labiaplasty – just like Phylangyplasty…

labiaplasty scalpel If 20% of women have elongated labia, isn’t that a variation we’d expect to call normal, like all the different sizes of feet? Imagine what would happen if someone started offering a solution to the problem of having feet that are different sizes, and all you had to do was have some of the bones of your toes shortened? Costs a motza, causes great pain, you might never have the same sensation in your toes and that might limit your ability to say play tennis or go for a run, but hey, you’d look normal, doesn’t matter that nearly everyone has different sized feet!

For a personal view of the anguish this issue causes women every day, read this post at Beautiful You, one of my favourite body image blogs, by Aussie body image activist Julie Parker. She just had a guest post written by a young woman, Kate, who has gone through just this experience. Kate writes about her experience with labiaplasty here, it’s a powerful story from a brave young woman, please do read it.

Labiaplasty Video

And then check out this video from Hungry Beast complete with interview with a plastic surgeon specialising in labiaplasty, and a graphic designer whose job it is to do the digial labiaplasty – it’s astonishing.

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14 Comments

  1. Suzanne Robertson on May 13, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Thanks for sharing this, Sandra!

  2. Krishna Everson on May 14, 2011 at 4:30 am

    Porn has a lot to answer for, but not as much as the government for adding to the discomfort women have around body image. Perhaps it is being driven by those who support the cosmetic industry? I want to know who’s responsible!!

    • Sandy on May 14, 2011 at 6:50 am

      Krishna oh yeh – the porn industry is so not about sex… one day I’ll do a series on it :/ But yes – who is responsible? I think it’s crept up on us and now’s the time we have to stand and say enough – or do you think we’re already overwhelmed?

  3. Siobhan Fenton on May 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Hi

    I am a film-maker working in the North East of England making an animated documentary story about Labiaplasty. Funded by the Wellcome Trust we are looking at the reasons why woman have labia surgery. We are interested in the stories posted about and would like to talk to you further as part of our research. Ellie Land, the director, is an award winning film-maker and is used to dealing with sensitive subjects.

    If you are willing to talk to us share your experiences in confidence, please contact me directly at siobhan@lynchpin.org or visit our facebook site and send us a message http://www.facebook.com/thecentrefoldproject

    Thank you
    Siobhan Fenton
    Producer

    • Sandy on May 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      Siobhan, this sounds like a really interesting project – I’ve had a look at your site though and I’m not sure if you’re in favour of the procedure or if you’re talking about the range of ‘normal’ or….? Would you please say a bit more?

  4. Kate on May 18, 2011 at 1:44 am

    scary stuff!! shudder!!
    MEN demanding this of women!!!!??? that they have their little virginal vaginas forever!!????

    the truth is… ( I believe from a life time of experience, as a counsellor & some actual observation & very little discussion .. cos ‘ we dont talk about such things!!” )

    THESE precious women suffering ‘distorted & enlarged labia’ ( aside from naturally normal variations )
    are abuse victims!!

    BIG penises entering little virginal vaginas before they are grown to maturity DO stretch & distort the labia!!!!

    they are NOT meant to go THERE…

    I have silently ‘observed’ this on a few various occasions through many yrs..
    what can one say!??
    I did pose some difficult questions at one stage & was shut down promptly …
    what can one do..?

    it is a ‘closed silent world’..

    THIS SURGERY … & subsequent discussion has opened it up!!
    hopefully for the good, the restoration & healing of many
    & the protection of many more innocent young girls..

    can you see the IRONIC HYPOCRISY!!???

    MEN create the problem..
    and then MEN DEMAND ‘this’ as a solution!?? to ‘the problem that they created!?’

    its time they were exposed & called to account !!!

    no wonder it is ‘common’ 20-60 % women!??
    ( however is it known?? who do you show your vagina too!!???
    do gynaecologists record secret observations??? )

    compare with the sexual abuse statistics.. ( 20+% girls before 15 )

    AND not to mention all the subsequent issues ..
    low self- esteem
    early sexual activity
    high sexual promiscuity
    or inability to engage in sexual intimacy
    obesity too!! ( to protect ones body from further abuse..)

    woah!!!

    as I say… ASTOUNDING!!!!!

    what can we do to EXPOSE & bring to ACCOUNT these perpetrators Sandy??

    • Sandy on May 18, 2011 at 2:06 am

      @Kate, I think discussions like this bring the issues into the light, remove any shame, and help us all accept what is normal (variety in size and shape) and what is not (any kind of abuse of others or ourselves). Big difference between ‘usual’ and ‘normal’, it’s worth taking a minute to get clear on that…

      I wonder if it’s a co-incidence that the sexual abuse stats and the variation of labia are pretty close?

  5. Paige on May 18, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I have very strong feelings about this also and was priveleged to be apart of a beautiful movement to honour womens’ yoni’s in the work of Heart of the Flower http://www.heartoftheflower.com/ a book which shows the beautiful diversity in Womens’ yoni’s this was an amazing journey for myself personally and the other 50ish women involved. It saddens me that this continues to happen in society and that this type of surgery even exists. Movements such as The heart of the flower are worthy causes we should all get behind to bring the truth to light about the beauty of all women. Thanks Sandy for bringing this to the attention of your readership, you truly are inspirational. x

    • Sandy on May 18, 2011 at 2:45 am

      Paige – that was/is a fabulous project – normalising our body parts is so needed! I really feel that we’re shedding the constraints of Victorian morals, and a new moral code that is about honouring and trusting rather than hiding, shaming and abusing, is emerging – and really, the internet is such a huge part of that, it lets us reach out and discuss such important issues that just weren’t possible in the past…. thanks for your support Paige, and for sharing this fabulous project 🙂

  6. Jane on May 19, 2011 at 5:49 am

    This is not a surgery that is required and I am horrified that it is going on. The plastic surgeon won’t stop it because they are earning money from those that want it. What is required is education so that women understand that we are not all the same. Or should we just demand only certain shaped mens bits are shown so they have to undergo unnecessary surgery to confirm to an unrealistic image shown in magazines.

    • Sandy on May 19, 2011 at 6:07 am

      Well said Jane! Thank you for contributing to the conversation!

  7. Ryan on August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I am a man and certainly don’t endorse labiaplasty or believe that it is necessary.

    Personally, I prefer larger labia – but I don’t think my, or anyone else’s opinion, should have any bearing on how women feel about themselves.

    In many ways, labia are to women what the penis is to men. Men (in most cases – needlessly) worry about their penises being too small, while women, needlessly, worry about their labia being too big. In either case they have less to worry about from the opposite sex’s opinion than they realise.

    Hope my comments are welcome!

  8. Anna on May 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Im a little bit ofended beacuse everybody here say that this surgery it’s unnecesary and only cosmetic but not all the time. I’m considering getting a labioplasty but not because of the aesthetic part (which actually i really don’t care how my genitals look like). I want this surgery beacuse having elongated labia it’s really uncomfortable during sex and while using tight clothes or underwear. I think many women as me have this surgery because of the discomfort not just for vanity.

    • Sandy on June 9, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Anna, no need to be offended because people don’t agree with your choice. The point is, that if a procedure is required for medical reasons that’s one thing. If it’s requirede because we don’t match some nebulous esoteric fashionable ideal, then we need to know what’s real and what’s not to help in the decision making process. I hope your surgery gives you all the results you want.

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