I have a pretty rudimentary view of the caveman era. I picture men, clubbing women over the head, bringing them home to provide for them and to pro-create, and deciding their women are beautiful when baby is born. I don’t think that checking out their woman’s vagina was ever on their list of priorities. But then again, they had bigger monsters to fear.
Cut to my life in the land of the beautiful - Beverly Hills - where beauty is a multi-million dollar industry and doctors are apparently creating vaginas that look like flowers, unmasking women’s clitoris’ (for supposed “better pleasure”), potentiating the G-spot and re-creating virgin-like hymens (I really don’t even know why). Folks, you’ve got too much time and money on your hands if you are looking down there and trying to create some level of “perceived beauty.” And frankly, if a guy’s comment about your region, down under, can send you off with such lowered self esteem that you would seek surgery - then you’ve got lots of issues to work on…lots and lots of issues.
Apparently teenage girls are chattering about the size and presentation of their labia - as if thunder thighs, acne, small breasts and glasses are not enough to worry about. But teenagers live by angst, and by a measuring stick that is often not based in reality - what’s appalling is that doctors are banking on women’s self esteem issues and growing their personal worth at our expense. Doctor 90210 is a show that I often sit and watch (for the bizarre entertainment value) and I can occasionally appreciate when someone really has a facial or body disfigurement that is interfering with their quality of life. Once in awhile, a women will present with a vaginal canal that has severly stretched during childbirth or a defect in the vaginal canal due to problems from a poorly healed episiotomy. But flower-like vaginas???
Apparently I am not the only health professional that is alarmed. A grass roots organization, New View Campaign, staged a protest outside the Manhatten Center for Vaginal Surgery, holding up placards that read - No Two Alike. This group claims that medicalization of sex is occuring and fueling a craze that seems to be seeking body perfection in a whole new surgical way. Though only 1000 women in the US, and 800 women in the UK, typically undergo cosmetic sugery involving the vagina yearly, statistics show an impressive escalation from year to year (20% increase from 2005 to 2006). Frankly, the media is helping with shows like Lipstick Jungle highlighting awoman’s enhanced G-spot and Dr. Rey extolling the virtues of vaginoplasty.
Don’t get me wrong - if there is clinically a reason to perform surgery, like enlarged, elongated labia that interfere with enjoyable sex, urinating comfortably or with other daily bodily functions - how wonderful that there is a surgery to deal with it. But every surgery has inherent risk, and in this case, you could end up with severed nerves and permanent numbness, scarring, chronic pain, infection, not to mention complications from anesthesia. Reputable doctors and experts are calling for the FTC consumer protection division to step in and at minimum, monitor ads.
As soon as we start posting pictures of this private area online - so called “normal presentation” versus “ugh, gross presentation” - we are asking for a new self esteem issue to top the list of "why I am not good enough-pretty enough -desirable enough?" Don’t we women already have a big enough list of issues to deal with?? And I hate to point out, as others have, that currently in other countries, we are being asked to face the horrible reality of genital mutilation - which we have no problem recognizing as a serious crime against women. So why oh why can’t we realize that any man who is telling you that “you are not very pretty down there,” is basically sending you on the road, in a sense, to a decision of genital mutilation. And if you choose not to do anything, then you** can** easily end up walking around with the scars from his words - instead of the scars from surgery.
I will point out one indisputable fact. Women in permanent relationships are far more likely to feel comfortable with their “natural gifts” than single women. One of the most common reasons women seek one of these surgeries - is because a cast-aside lover decided to take action - right back at you - with the devastating words - “I was never satisfied anyway - you look downright weird down there - no one else will ever find you attractive.” My response? Your brain is as tiny as your…
Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”