Dr Heidi wrote this post a few weeks ago, and I found myself avoiding it, I think because the thought of this just grossed me out. But then, I realized this is an important part of a women’s body image, and just because it never dawned on me to analyze what I personally look like down there, it doesn’t mean this is not an important topic.
After reading Dr. H’s article, I went digging for some images, since its one thing reading about this, its another seeing it. Low and behold, there is an abundance of “before and after” shots of women, or in the case below GIRLS, electing for vaginal rejuvenation surgery. The one I posted here was one of the most pathetic, but you can read many more here.
How, where, when would a 17 year old girl develop self conscience feelings about the look of the inside of her vagina? Her mom? Her boyfriend? Pornos? What, tell me, because I’m no prude but this one is totally beyond my scope of reality.
It’s time to line up for the latest in designer goods: the designer vagina. Vaginal rejuvenation surgery or vaginoplasty is reconstructive surgery used to reconstruct the vaginal canal and it is growing in popularity. Vaginal rejuvenation surgery is believed to be the third fastest growing of all surgical procedures as measured between the years 2005 and 2006 with an estimated 30 percent increase from one year to the next. But is the surgery needed or just another facet of negative body image and female self-hatred?
The idea that women are using the surgery as an effort to address negative body image is not a stretch, looking at the various websites. One, for example, states: “Women are now increasingly seeking it to improve the physical appearance of their genital area, or to increase sexual gratification. The benefits of the surgery are not confined to women of a particular age group. It can improve quality of life in affected women starting from teenagers.” Teenagers?
Let’s look at the options. There are several types of vaginal rejuvenation surgeries. These include labiaplasty, which reshapes the genital lips and to increase female sexual enjoyment, vaginoplasty, which tightens the muscles inside the vagina, hymenoplasty (or revirginization), which mimics the vaginal appearance of someone who has never been sexually active, and hoodectomy, in which the clitoral hood is reduced or removed entirely, allowing more access to the clitoris. As seen from these descriptions, most of the surgeries are cosmetic in nature, although some may have benefits for ureogynocological problems such as incontinence. The primary uses of the surgeries are aesthetic.
In returning to the issue of body image, it’s clear that body image concerns precede the decision for many of these surgeries. A recent study in Australia found that of of 800 surveyed, 75 per cent did not like their partner looking at their genitals during sex because they feared their body parts would be a turn-off. Forty-seven per cent were so concerned by their appearance that they were considering vaginal rejuvenation surgery.
Lead researcher Frances D’Arcy-Tehan, from the University of Sydney said negative genital image was having a critical psychological impact on women’s health. She called on doctors and psychologists to help allay women’s fears by explaining the variations of women’s genitalia talking about how these body parts can be misrepresented in pornography.
”In my private practice I had a 16-year-old girl who came in and said her 18-year-old boyfriend told her vagina didn’t look like the images he saw on the internet,” D’Arcy-Tehan said. ”Young women are very confused.”
As with other type of body image issues, working on body acceptance is a critical component. Although surgery can change what is on the outside, it cannot change the inner views and perceptions of one’s body. If you are struggling with any type of distorted body image please seek help.