The list of things one can get plastic surgery on now includes the vagina, according to an article highlighting the emerging practice of genital plastic surgery in today's Los Angeles Times.
Genital plastic surgeons say that increasingly, women find themselves lacking when comparing their private bits with those of "adult film actresses, strippers and nude denizens of the Internet," according to the LAT. It's obvious enough that fashion magazines provide a strong commentary on what women are supposed to look like clothed -- but where exactly does one go to research the correct proportions of genitalia?
"I hear it time and time again," said Gary Alter, a plastic surgeon who works out of Beverly Hills, Calif., and New York City. "The woman says, 'I thought I was normal and I watch these movies with my boyfriends and now I feel like I must be a freak.' They feel they're the only ones in the world."
David L. Matlock, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon, told the Times that the vagina sought most often by his patients has "a nice, clean look," including a small clitoral hood and "slit-like" vagina.
Why those attributes? Judy Norsigian, author of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," told the LAT that women are being sold standards informed by a societal fixation on prepubescent girls. "We live in a country where people are always thinking up new things, new practices, new ways to make money," she added. "And if you can play upon an insecurity, you can get a lot of people to do a lot of things."
Norsigian may be right; the trend toward nipped and tucked genitalia, paired with shaved or waxed pubic regions, could be signs of an increasing fetishization of young girls (although it should be noted that male porn stars are often just as waxed as their female counterparts). Or it could be a reaction to porn's harsh lighting and unforgiving close-ups. Whether or not it's a specifically prepubescent fetish at work, though, vaginal age certainly seems to be an issue. "It was a way to take charge of my own sexuality" after giving birth naturally to three strapping babies, 36-year-old laser vaginal rejuvenation patient Katie Sokely said. Sokely's doc also apparently told her she had "the vagina of a 50-year-old woman."
It would be easy to attack pornography for spreading an unrealistic standard for the female body, but the same can certainly be said -- to an extent -- about its standards for the male body. And it shouldn't come as a big surprise that just as the residents of Porn Valley don't represent average breast size or variation, neither do they represent the average vagina (or penis, for that matter). Even if it's not about the porn, though, it's alarming that there's yet another area of the body that women feel compelled to surgically improve and maintain. Especially since nearly nothing on earth sounds more uncomfortable than "vaginal rejuvenation."