Is labial surgery really the answer to chafing?: Teenagers, sports, and the search for perfect bodies

I’ve written before about the quest for perfect labia and the argument for surgery from sports, when I asked whether the Toronto trim the answer to cycling discomfort.

There I expressed skepticism that cycling, rather than the search for the perfect body, was the cause of the increase in labial cosmetic surgery. Also, I am skeptical that surgery is the solution. But I’m not a doctor and I might be wrong about this.

Temperamentally I’m in favour of personal freedom. I’m a big fan of personal expression through wild hair, ink, and body modifications. I’m no longer sure what my hair’s natural colour is. Currently it’s got lots of pink on it. I’ve also got a few tattoos.

I’d love it if people used cosmetic surgery to broaden the range of beautiful. Go for wings, and horns, and add multiple breasts rather than perfecting the ones we have. Of course that’s not what cosmetic surgery is all about. Increasingly there’s one kind of beautiful and when it comes to bodies those of us who don’t have it can buy it.

Now the New York Times reports that the latest demographic surge in demand comes  from teenage girls.  The article begins by comparing large labia to muffin tops and thighs that touch. They’re described as areas of the body that women and girls are under pressure to fix. See My boyfriend says my vagina is too fat.

The article goes on to talk about the usual suspects: waxing, shaving, and through porn, the increasing awareness of what “normative labia” look like. Of course, they may not be labia that actual women possess, thanks to the joys of photoshop and other kinds of digital re-imagining. Or the porn stars whose bodies they desire to emulate may themselves be the product of plastic surgery.

But it’s not just about looks, say the cosmetic surgeons. Again, the sports argument comes out.

Doctors agree that not all of the concerns about large or misshapen labia are strictly cosmetic. Adolescent girls who are involved in certain sports may experience discomfort, such as chafing or itching in the labia, Dr. Strickland said.

And maybe it’s true. But still given that the risks of the surgery include pain, scarring, and the loss of sexual sensation, I’d want to be pretty certain that I couldn’t find a sport that didn’t cause a problem and that I couldn’t find a non-surgical solution.

3 thoughts on “Is labial surgery really the answer to chafing?: Teenagers, sports, and the search for perfect bodies

  1. Having just had a pelvic surgery (uterine fibroid removal) and having had a surgery for a Bartholin’s cyst in the past… I’m wincing hard at this one.

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