BY: Ashley Thompson, Ph.D.
What does the term “Designer Vagina” mean to you?
No, no, it’s not the new up-and-coming chick punk rock band, good try though!
It is actually a term used to describe the “ever-so-popular outcome of female genital cosmetic surgeries.” That’s right, in recent years, female genital cosmetic surgery has become an increasingly popular trend (see more here). As if that is not CRAZY enough, plastic surgeons attest that the vast majority of their patients were physiologically normal, with most of them presenting with relatively average genitalia. As this suggests, the issue is not necessarily medical, the issue likely relates to misinformed notions regarding genital aesthetics. Women with healthy, well-functioning vulvas are the one’s finding the flaws.
So, what exactly are these young women having done to their genitals? Well, for the most part, it seems as though it is the opposite of breast augmentation. In terms of women’s vulvas, less is more: smaller labias, less pubic hair, shrunken clitoral hoods, etc. In particular, two of the more popular surgeries include labiaplasty and vaginoplasty. Labiaplasties are designed to decrease the size of women’s labia through snipping and sculpting. Vaginoplasty, on the other hand, allows women to tighten and decrease the size of their vaginal opening.
If these surgeries are a somewhat recent trend, where did these notions of ideal genitals come from anyway? Is it through the ever-expanding pornography industry? Perhaps, who is to say for sure. What we do know, is that the prevalence of female genital cosmetic surgeries are not decreasing. On the contrary, these surgeries are becoming more common than ever. This is potentially problematic because, in many cases, women approaching plastic surgeons have some underlying self-esteem issues or have distorted/inaccurate perceptions of their vulvas. So, if you really feel as though genital cosmetic surgery is the right choice for you, I want you to think. Before altering the appearance of your genitals, do you think the answer to your problems can be solved with the simple slice of a scalpel?