Designer vaginas

Melissa Hogenboom reports on women who turn to surgery in pursuit of the perfect vagina:

Jessie said she used to spend hours flicking through magazines looking for women with similar labia to hers. She did not find any. She said it was "another piece of evidence that there was something wrong with me" and made her feel like a "complete freak". She experienced recurring dreams where she would imagine her labia as a scarf that would wrap itself around her neck. "There would be people standing around laughing and pointing."


    1. I’d argue for an exception to that rule in, at very least, the cases where the vagina in question is on an uncontrolled cellular division spree that bears considerable risk of killing its host…

      Aesthetic grading games rarely end well; but all organs are wildly imperfect from an engineering perspective and are frequently malfunctioning.

    2. Well that’s just silly, they can’t all be perfect.  Surely, if anything, they’re all equally imperfect?  Apart form the perfect ones, of course.

      1. Maybe all perfect in their imperfection, as are all our bodies.

        I know that the Hollywood beauty aesthetic is not what I consider beautiful at all.  The result of seeking the perfect face, hair, boobs, and lady garden — that’s right, lady garden — ends with nothing but people who look like plastic dolls, void of humanity.

        1. “Maybe all perfect in their imperfection, as are all our bodies. ”

          I totally get the sentiment of this statement; but those plastic dolls, as you describe them, or ‘beauty train wrecks’ as I shall refer to them, definitely aren’t perfect. I don’t think we need to re-label ‘different’ as ‘perfect’ just to make different OK. Let’s leave that to the Dove adverts (Bleugh).

          1. Then my question to you would be:  What is perfect?  And if it’s different for you than it is for me, is it not possible that — in a completely non-sentimental, non-Dove ad way (double blurgh) — that we are all, in fact, perfect?

          2. You snark me.  But I wasn’t asking it rhetorically, nor am I being all new agey. The question of how we define beauty is one that I’m actually interested in.

          3. No, that was an honest reaction; although normally it would have been snark so it’s a fair assumption.

            In my opinion:

            Ultimately perfection is subjective. At the broad end it’s culturally-subjective, and I think this is the area that results in more blanket ideas of perfection.

            But what’s important to note is that VERY few people consider ‘beauty train wrecks’ perfect. Those train wrecks consider themselves perfect, hence why most people (that don’t read the Sun) would describe Katie Price as an Ogre and would be infinitely more interested in a ‘girl next door’ type (i.e. perfect (or ‘normal’) by culturally-subjective standards).

            I don’t consider ‘perfect’ as an extreme, it’s more of an aesthetic average, with ugliness at either end of the scale.

            I guess at the end of the day it’s all about semantics; perception with regards to beauty is a pretty fuzzy area. But I don’t subscribe to everyone being beautiful, or everyone being perfect, I’d be lying if I said I did; and to be honest… I think anyone else would be too. Everyone’s idea of beauty may be different, but by the same token the same goes for ugliness.

          4. Thanks for clarifying, Nathan.  I assumed snark…this being the internet and all.

            And thanks for your further remarks.  I didn’t expect a one line comment of mine to evolve into a discussion about the subjective nature of beauty, but I find it very very interesting.

            I tend to think that men and women view beauty very differently.  The old saying is that men fall in love with a woman’s body and then her mind, while women fall in love with a man’s mind and then his body.  While that’s a sweeping generalization, I have found it mostly true for my friends and me.

          5. Ah, well that’s a different conversation altogether. I was referring to aesthetic beauty only, but I would say that my experiences are a little more balanced, more circumstance than gender dependant. But on the whole you’re probably right.

    3. That kind of statement will just be dismissed as a ridiculous platitude by anyone who has a self-image problem, so why bother saying it?

      Is every penis the perfect penis? Every nose the perfect nose? Every smile the perfect smile? Every breast the perfect breast? Of course not.

      Pretending like there is no standards of beauty is as ridiculous as claiming size doesn’t matter.

      1. Except that for many women (myself included), size doesn’t matter.

        And yes, every nose is the perfect nose, every smile the perfect smile, every breast the perfect breast, because they belong to the person who wears them.

        The standards of beauty change from era to era and place to place.  Pretending there in ONE standard of beauty is ridiculous.

        1. I didn’t mean to imply there was a singular standard of beauty, but that there are standards of beauty. And there are extremes of body shapes that an extremely small minority would find attractive. I am not one to judge if someone wants to undergo surgery to make a part of their body more attractive to their own ideal of beauty.

          As far as size not mattering, clearly you haven’t seen the two extremes, one of which would be painful and the other, almost nonexistent.

          We are not all perfect little beings. Pretending we are seems rather childish.

          1. Wow.  Now I”m childish?

            I think assuming that people should meet standards of beauty as you define them is childish.  In fact, it is the essence of children to be narcissistic — to think that the way you think is the way everyone thinks.

            And as far as the whole size thing goes? What kind of lover a man is has NOTHING to do with his size. Extremes included.

            Physical beauty is extremely subjective.  I think that you, Aloisius, are a perfect little being.

          2. I do not know you so I can comment on whether *you* are childish, but certainly your idea that everyone is perfect is.

            I am not perfect and because I accept that, I strive to improve myself every day. I find it much better to know, accept and minimize my own imperfections than delude myself into thinking they don’t exist.

          3. @google-baa852e7bec09d70062b913c4270cd6e:disqus 

            “And as far as the whole size thing goes? What kind of lover a man is has NOTHING to do with his size. Extremes included.”

            As someone who has had both extremes, this is such bull shit!

            I dated someone with a TINY penis, and it was never going to work.  He was great at everything else and we had fun, but it was just too small.  I tried, I really did.  It was just not going to work.  Not for me.  I broke it off, because I thought he’d be better off finding a woman who didn’t find PIV so important (and they exist!). 

            I’ve also had the other extreme.  It makes spontaneous sex and certain positions really difficult (or sometimes impossible), and it just takes a lot of work.  I’m actually okay with that, but not all women are.

            And that’s OKAY.

            That said, “average” (which is smaller than most people realize) is just fine, as long as he doesn’t suck in bed.

            Of course, no matter how great your penis is, if you are boring or terrible in bed, it won’t save you.  Which is disapointing.  But if you like the guy, take the time to teach him! :P

            Also, one more thing — vaginas come in different shapes and sizes, just like penises.   This means some penises are going to fit better than others.  Hah.  I’m basing this on my own experiences.  Certain shapes/sizes seem to just … work better.

            I tried really hard not too get too TMI but I think I failed, lol.

          4. Aloisius: Good for you…strive away.  I’m just going to be over here, doing good work, laughing with friends, and being happy.

        2. Perfection is sort of a silly description when used to discuss beauty. Perfection is really just saying that what we consider to be beautiful approaches some abstract essence of a nose, or a smile, or whatever in the same way that you can understand that while no perfect triangle or circle exists in the universe, you can imagine the essence of one in your mind.

          People tend to think this way. It is easy to classify, group, and then abstract these concrete things. I think this is defective thinking. Defining a human being is difficult. Humanity is a population of mostly genetically unique individuals (and always phenotypically unique). Abstractly saying what is the most perfect human trait or characteristic doesn’t work because a human isn’t a class that can be abstracted. It may be just as easy to say what is a perfect cloud.

          1. I agree. The concept of perfection allows for no diversity.  It makes sense that we should be attracted to people who are different from ourselves.  It freshens up the gene pool.

  1. She experienced recurring dreams where she would imagine her labia as a scarf that would wrap itself around her neck. “There would be people standing around laughing and pointing.”

    I…I…there are no words.  Perhaps Clive Barker could make something out of this?

      1.  I agree with you, of course, but I was wondering how Clive Barker would take that image and turn it into a story. The dream image put me in mind of Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament from his Books of Blood

        1. To be completely honest with you I had no idea who Clive Barker was. I’m quite fortunate that I didn’t shoot myself in the foot and find out he was a psychologist :)

        2. Many of Barker’s stories involve people transforming into something else, usually something monstrous.  And along the way the monster often finds the sexual relationship they always yearned for.  Clive really conveys the sense of loneliness and longing and the sense of being terribly different.

  2. The dream-people wer not laughing because you have a unique labia, they were laughing because that sounds like a goofy-looking scarf.

    1. Well, I’d hardly put the blame solely on men. That seems unfair. It’s in how a person is raised regarding body image, how the media affects young people — again, body image — how other women treat discussion of the female body amongst their peers, and how willing one is to love oneself sans modification. (Next to no one, but that’s neither here nor there.) And with all that said, yes, a woman’s partners certainly do come into play in how she looks at her own body. Hell, so does pornography, and its ridiculously incorrect funhouse mirror implication that most women worth fucking having near-invisible labia minora.

      I recently watched a UK-filmed documentary about this same topic — women who put themselves under the knife so as to modify their vaginas — which was interesting, but simultaneously worrying. I’ll see if I can dig it up, for any interested parties.

        1. Of course it’s not, and no one said it was. But neither does it dilute the topic at hand, either.

        2. As a college English prof, I sometimes teach body-image essays. These are generally about women, yet I’ve had many good papers by young men about struggles they’ve experienced or witnessed to do with male body image. They address obsessions with working-out, hormone and supplement use, and insecurity. The one thing that really surprised me initially is how often these papers take up the idea of beauty. It’s not expressed with that term but with “looking good,” “looking nice,” being “tight” or something like that. But it’s clear that is an issue of masculine beauty.

        3. Dude, I agree there is more pressure these days for teh menz to look a certain way, but it’s still NOTHING compared to the sheer amount of propaganda directed towards making women feel inadequate about EVERY. SINGLE. SQUARE. INCH. of their bodies. From whether your anus is bleached enough, to whether your armpits are too dry, to unruly toenail cuticles. 

          And I’ll be the first to admit to taking part in all of it. If I didn’t spend money on hair-removal, botox (I’m 28, but if you’re a female over 17 you’re considered an old hag these days), cosmetics, manicures, etc, I’d have a *lot* more spare money. I’d rather it wasn’t like that but unfortunately people don’t listen to women unless they are conventionally hot, and you do what you have to do to get by.

          1. Um… I’m over 40, woman, never been hot, never done any of the stuff you list. As geek as geeks come. People listen to me. Sure there is propaganda, you just don’t have to fall into the trap. You are who you are, screw anybody who thinks you should be someone else.

            Oh, and why do you hang around people who would only listen to hot women? That’s just… totally phucked up!

          2. Eh. Replying to myself obviously due to threading limits. Maybe it’s just because throughout my early 20’s I had a job where looking hawt was the main purpose, so I have a warped view of the world. I’ve since quit because I wanted tattoos and different hair colours, and am working in a different industry…but I don’t know, I still think we give attractive people – especially women – more attention. I’m not agreeing with it, just an observation I’ve made. 
            It’s difficult not to fall prey to advertising when you’re surrounded by it – it’s why I don’t judge those girls we all love to ridicule who get their lips pumped up and spray tans because they’ve had it drilled into them from birth that their entire worth is based on how they look. And no I don’t hang out with judgmental assholes – my current BF is serving in the armed forces, when he’s on leave he’s just happy to see a vagina – it doesn’t matter what it looks like!! :p

      1. “Hell, so does pornography, and its ridiculously incorrect funhouse mirror implication that most women worth fucking having near-invisible labia minora.”

        You’ve been watching the wrong porn then.

        1. As someone who likes vaginas and who has seen a fair bit of porn, I agree with your  “You’ve been watching the wrong porn then” statement. A “near-invisible labia minora” does not look as nice nor feel as nice under the tongue as a more womanly labia. But I may be weird in that regard, as I also like my women to have some hair, rather than to look like a six-year old girl.  Further, modern women have come up with many esthetic notions that run counter to what men as a group might endorse. My dog, just look at some of those shoes.

    2. Is this simply trolling, or an attempt at humor?

      Nothing in the article suggests this is men’s fault.  Nor did anyone here.

      1. At last! We have found a women’s issue that has nothing to do with patriarchy! Or at least the part of patriarchy that has nothing to do with men. Did I just blow your mind?

    3. I’d like to have a better understanding about how this is men’s fault.

      I’d like to have a better understanding of why you decided to troll this thread with a comment unrelated to anything in the post.

  3. The curious thing about the case in the BBC article is that the patient mentioned extremely high levels of internal distress; but absolutely nothing about either external judgement/harassment/mockery or life-limiting steps taken to avoid exposure and the possibility of the same.

    I normally think of body-image issues being (at least in part) created and reinforced by active stigmatization and shaming of the deviants.

    That said, though, the complete lack of mention of any direct external condemnation makes it (even) less surprising that surgery failed to resolve her underlying complaint. In the hypothetical world of rational persons, changing what somebody doesn’t like would make them happier. When that doesn’t work, you begin to suspect that the problem lies elsewhere.

    1. Sounds like body dysmorphic disorder.  It has more to do with anxiety and self esteem than any external social pressures.  That doesn’t stop the person suffering from it from perceiving that everyone is staring at them.  It’s the sort of thing that reinforces itself due to confirmation bias.

      It’s really hard to treat because the sufferer will just continue to search for more evidence that there’s something wrong with them.  Take for example Jessie’s searching through magazines.  She’s not looking for ways in which other labias are similar to hers, she’s looking at ways in which they are different, and that’s only going to confirm her belief that she’s not normal.

      Perhaps some Imogen Cunningham would be more therapeutic.

    2. That’s a fancy way of saying she had mental problems, and cooch surgery can’t fix that.

      1. Long-winded, I admit; but I consider it an important question.

        As somebody of somewhat transhumanist sympathies, I find the notion that all things natural are wonderful and perfect and stuff to be complete tosh. The callous stochasticity of biological processes throws people under the bus all the time. For that reason, I’m in favor of people having the ability to make changes that they want.

        Unfortunately, humans are pretty awful at actually ‘wanting’ things in a coherent sense, with swaths of them either ‘wanting’ in the sense that they would rather obey the demands of others than suffer the consequences or ‘wanting’ in the sense of being overtly delusional about what is actually driving them. In those cases, it isn’t clear that giving people what they ‘want’ is a good idea, or even ethical.

  4. If she can throw them over her shoulder like a continental soldier, she’s not ugly; she’s just exceptionally kinky.

  5. Somewhere — I forget where — there’s a teen sex-ed website which among other resources has a full pages of sketches of labia configurations,  showing that variation is normal. (And for most guys fascinating.)

    I don’t expect every flower to be identical; part of their charm is that they differ. Why shouldn’t human petals vary?

    Having said that: Sometimes too much of a good thing can get in the way. If it’s actually mechanically interfering with normal use/normal life… well, I know a gal who had breast reduction and is much more comfortable without that extra mass; if people are making an informed and unpressured decision then it’s their body to do with as they like.

    (No piercings, though. Please. Or at least not until someone finds something *attractive* to do with a piercing that can’t be done another way. It really doesn’t need bling.)

    1. Laffy Taffy Joke:  Q: What did the flower say to the bicycle? A: Petal.

      Q: What did the flower say to the vulva? A: Petal. 

  6. i think a Big part of the problem comes from sex education (or lack thereof).  in the classes where i went to school, we learned of the physical changes to boys’ genitalia, but the only change mentioned about girls’ genitalia was hair growth.  nothing was mentioned about growth or external changes to the vulva At All.

    (without venturing too far into TMI territory, when mine became adult in appearance, i felt dirty and shameful about it for a long time.  i don’t know if i’m alone in that experience, but i can’t imagine that i am.)

    so add to the lack of education about what an adult vulva is supposed to look like, the high visibility of women in porn who are not only hairless but often have prepubescent-looking vulvas (which is a rather creepy phenomenon in and of itself), and Of Course you’re gonna have women wondering what the holy hell is wrong with their lady parts.


    1. As the father of a young daughter, thank you very much for the I – it was definitely not TM.  I worry about body image problems later in her life, it’s good to know about this.

  7. The author of the article does not seem to know that “labia” is a plural: “She said before her surgery her labia was…” And nobody seems to realize that a vagina is not visible without a speculum: it’s internal. The outside bits, of which the labia are part, is called the vulva. (Or a lot of other rude names, of course…)

      1. It’s not really anal retentive, it’s having proper names for your lady bits. Heck, even having little girls say “vagina” is a biiiig step forward, even if it is the wrong label. We used to only have some cutsey names for it, or front bottom, or whatever… but not actually proper words that you can use when you go to the doctor and describe what is wrong where.

    1. Yep… it really annoys me that when we apparently didn’t have anything as nice sounding as “boys have a penis” to go for the “and girls have a…” we had to go with the name for the internal part. And now every single little girl and boy at least in the US seem to learn that the word for what girls have is “vagina”. Yes, girls have a vagina, but most little girls are not yet aware of it. I’m totally baffled what’s so wrong with “vulva”, much easier to say, too.

      1. When my daughter was about two, I was supervising while she played in the tub at the end of her bath. You know toy  boats, rubber ducks and soap crayons.  Then she kinda got interested in “self-directed personal exploration”.  Anybody who has raised a daughter knows they, as toddlers, like touching themselves as much as anyone else, even boy toddlers. I am a open-minded and liberal parent, and saw nothing wrong with what she was doing, and did not stop her or shame her in the least. She was pretty interested in her activities, trying to get a look, craning her neck and spreading her legs when she excitedly said, “Daddy! Did you know there is a hole down here?”
        I replied, “Yes, baby girl. That’s your vagina.”
        “Uh-huh, sweetie?”
        “What’s my bah-gina for?”
        After a long stumble, I used it as a teachable moment about others touching and what was inappropriate, but having grown up in a family where there literally weren’t any words for what I was talking about, not even “down there”, I was having to adjust to new realities and grow a bit myself. We have used the real words since.

  8. Since so many men obsess with the size of their member it doesn’t surprise me that some women would go to this extreme, especially since breast enhancement surgery seems old hat.

    As more me, I’ll take n order of roast beef anytime.

    1.  I agree with you about the roast beef, but I doubt that using terms like that will make most women more comfortable.

      BTW, without much looking one can find plenty of porn that presents labia variation in a positive way. There are even some fairly mainstream sites that are fairly body positive.

      If people can’t find anything but mainstream porn it’s because they aren’t looking or actually prefer the problematic narratives of most mainstream porn. I’m not in to regulating porn, but I won’t say it’s not problematic.

      1. I actually wasn’t familiar with that term before like 3 or 4 years ago a magical google search brought me to some website forum where some young ladies were discussing their feelings about how they looked down there. 

  9. Geez Boing, Boing. For a science and technology site — you guys are smart, right ? — I am concerned that this is labelled “Designer Vaginas” where what is going on is the amputation of tissue from the labia minor. The labia minor is part of the vulva — women’s exterior genitalia. The vagina is an interior passage. Nothing in this piece talks about the type of surgery that is happening inside the vagina — though there are some sketchy cosmetic surgeons/OBGYNS that offer things like “vaginal rejuvenation” “Hymen reconstruction” and g-spot augmentation by injection within the vagina. So — in the future, for your reference: vulva = outside, vagina = inside.

    That said, a woman I went to school with, employed in the medical field, elected to have this surgery done. She told me with shame that her previous boyfriend had made fun of her labia and called her a “rooster”. This was upsetting enough to pay several thousand dollars to have some doctor CUT IT OFF to more “normal” proportions. I felt so sad when she told me this.

    Here’s the thing, guys. Your penises stick out at the front of your body. You see other penises all the time when you are growing up, if you participate in sports, gym classes, whatever, where you are changing or nude around other guys. You’ve probably got a sense that there are big ones, small ones, ones with floppy foreskins and others without, pale ones, dark ones, etc., etc. Girls and women ARE culturally shamed to not even look at their own genitalia (like we are filthy disgusting perverts if we do — or worse yet talk about looking at our own unless we’re hanging out in sex positive feminist spaces). I have no idea what my siblings, parent, friends vulvas look like, for example. There have been a few feminist efforts made for  girls and women to acquaint themselves with what vulvas looks like  (hint: there’s quite a range) with books like the Cunt Coloring Book  from the 70’s or the book of photos called Femalia. However — you won’t find either of these in sex-ed classes or high school libraries. Sadly, the place where female genitalia is most documented IS pornography. Professional porn for the last 15 years +/- has featured hairless white women under the age of 25, usually with augmented breasts and other cosmetic procedures that have changed the way their bodies look. There is not a real spectrum of diversity in porn unless it is specialty or fetish porn. Obviously porn is not the best resource for gauging normal anatomy or sexual function or response. However — it is the most accessible :(

    Here’s more anatomy info:

    Male artist Jamie McCartney has done 100’s of castings of women’s genitalia to make his Great Wall of Vagina piece :

    1.  “There is not a real spectrum of diversity in porn unless it is specialty or fetish porn.”
      you know nothing of porn.

        1. know too much of porn,  hah, who’s judging who here.  but really can you ever have too much knowledge of anything.
          also  i have always wondered why Jamie McCartney used alginate for the molds it  seems like the weight of it changes their shapes, just a tiny amount.  i would guess a brush on silicone would work a little better.  though it costs way more then alginate and its possible it wouldn’t work any better because that area is such a soft are to make  a mold of.  of course he’s obviously not going for perfect reproduction anyways. 

          1. Alginate is non-toxic (used for dental impressions), has a fast set up time, and is inexpensive compared to silicone.

            Plus, ask the Plaster Casters.

    2. i cannot “like” this enough; agreed entirely. it’s such a shame that so much of the “down there” mentality (the euphemism of shame!) still exists regarding vulvas. maybe i’m waxing a bit too feminist here, but maybe it’s in part because, for the purposes of reproduction (and by extension, male pleasure) (because what else are women good for?), the vagina is the part that “matters,” as opposed to the dirty nasty vulva, which is the part that actually feels pleasure (which only concerns sluts)?

      and hymen reconstruction has its own special can of worms regarding cultural/religious expectations of virginity and the implications (or honor killings) some women or their families might face if the blushing bride were “impure.”

      1. Haha — bad use of words there Spitty : waxing with regards to the topic at hand !

        Who would have thought — 25 years ago — that it would become a socially  and culturally encouraged thing for women (as in sexually active women who subscribe to the dominant culture’s standards of beauty) to go to a retail establishment, to pay a stranger to smear warm wax over her labia majora, mons, and butthole area (while modestly holding a Kleenex over the actual vulva). The stranger would then TEAR THE HAIR OUT BY THE ROOTS  !!! And that women’s genitals in their natural hairy state would become an almost freakish oddity…

        1. A attractive but kind of flakey woman was telling me how hairy her ass was, and I really felt that was “too much information.”

        2. i actually did that…  ONCE.

          (yeah, i know, but a week in florida + conventional womens’ swimwear + being a pale brunette = “ok, i’ll give it a shot.”) 

          there was bleeding involved.  NEVER AGAIN.  :O

          (p.s.  i didn’t even get a modesty kleenex!)

        3. It’s not like legs and armpits didn’t lead the way.  The crotch was just the last castle under siege in the no-hair-below-the-eyebrows war.

    3. “You see other penises all the time when you are growing up, if you participate in sports, gym classes, whatever, where you are changing or nude around other guys.”

      That’s, uh, not quite right. I’d say women grow up seeing each other naked as much or more often than men do. I’ve always heard it that way, anyhow, that women being casually naked around each other just happens a lot more than it would with men. Maybe we’ve both got wrong information. But no, that bit about boys being constantly naked around each other just struck me as hilarious. No one saw my penis and I didn’t see theirs… And anyone seeing your penis was the stuff of nightmares. See: Freaks and Geeks.

      1. Hmmm, I think your concept of casual nude girls and women may come from fiction. I have never relaxed with my girlfriends(as in girls who are friends) in a semi nude state, done beauty treatments together or had pillowfights either.

        Most of the straight boys/men I have known have seemed quite aware of the penises around them — like who in a school grade had a “big one” or whatever, or who wasn’t circumsized where circumcision was common. I mean — you pull it out of your fly to urinate. I don’t think that boys/men are strolling about in the locker room, having long naked conversations with each other. However, male genitals are difficult to hide. I don’t think there is some strange male genital beauty parade that happens in  change rooms — but I do think that men have a much greater passing awareness of the variety of shapes, colors and sizes of other male penises. I find it exceptional that you say that no one saw your penis and that you never saw anyone elses.

        Maybe my upbringing in a rough rural area was different than yours.

        1. It might depend on age, and certainly on locality as you suggest. I’m 25 and grew up in middle-class suburbia, went to an all-boys summer camp for many years, and later lived in the dorms at a private university. While I may have seen one or two other penises in person in my day, it was accidental and only fleeting glances. I can only recall one instance of another guy catching a glance of mine, and again it was accidental and fleeting.

          As the other guy said, the locker room episode of Freaks and Geeks is a good illustration of how it works for most people these days (and the show is set in 1980 so it’s probably been that way for a while in most places).

          I suppose it would be better if we were more casual and comfortable with our bodies around people of the same sex, but for most people it isn’t the genitalia that’s a big deal, but bigger body image issues (like being overweight etc.)

          1. I have no recollection of seeing a naked gentleman until the first time that I got romantic with one. Possibly there was just nothing impressive on display until then that would attract my notice.

  10. Here at Last Gasp, we recently re-published the classic book Femalia, with photographs that show some of the diversity of vulvas. 

    The editor of the book, Joani Blank, has a tumblr with the stated goal “not only to promote the artists here, but also to normalize and celebrate the many shapes, sizes, and colors of the vulva.”

  11. I understand why many of the commenters are making comparisons to feelings of inadequacy related to penis size, but there is a key difference: women are being actively encouraged by plastic surgeons (and, horribly, even their OB/GYNs) to have their labia removed to suit the airbrushed standard. It is far less common for men to be encouraged by someone they consider an impartial expert to have their penises modified. It is not simply media or porn depictions that are the source of the problem, though they do perpetuate it. This documentary goes into a bit more depth:

    1. In the US, at least, ~80% aren’t ‘encouraged’ to have their penises modified, because they are infants at the time…

      I don’t want to quibble about the equivalence or lack thereof; but culturally-motivated aesthetic genital modification is sort of a Thing at a population level.

    2. well, a Very Small percentage of women seeking this surgery may really have larger-than-“normal”-enough labia to actually cause discomfort during intercourse, and in those circumstances what is probably a fairly straightforward surgery could have a positive impact on her quality and enjoyment of life. 
      generally, though, i can see plastic surgeons pushing this, but ob/gyns?  for shame.  >:(

  12. “It was the only thing in my life that made me feel depressed. I was very excited about having labiaplasty. I thought it was going to be the end of all my problems. I thought it was going to look lovely, like a little designer vagina.”
    Something is seriously wrong with this lady.  The only thing that makes her depressed is how her vagina looks?  How many guys see her cooter on a regular basis?

    It’s especially funny because pretty much all guys would stick their dong in it even if it had the odd tooth or something. 

  13. I think it’s terrible that women should be made to feel self-conscious about the appearance of their vulvas. Granted, they’re boxy and slab-sided, and you can’t turn the headlights off, but they’re very roomy and practical and … wait, I think I have vulva and Volvo mixed up. Never mind.

  14. Something that’s bothered me for years – is it possible to have a “vagina fetish?”

    Or is that like saying you’re “addicted to breathing?”

    1. A sexual fixation is only a fetish if you are fixated on an object (particularly an inanimate one) that is non-sexual.  So someone who found bacon or knee high boots sexually arousing would have a fetish.  Someone who is fixated on asians, large penises, or feet (arguably) would not have a fetish.  Maybe obsession would be a better term for that.    

      So I would say you cannot have a “vagina fetish” unless the particular vaginal fixation is with vagina’s which are unwaxed or have floppy labia.  That would just be weird.

        1. I have trouble seeing anything relating to the human body as fetishable.  This is because humans ARE sexual and despite rationalized evolutionary explanations of what we find attractive it is hard to nail down what is objectively attractive.  Standards of beauty in Victorian blah blah blah, now waxed vagina.

          Final Verdict on hairlessness:
          Not a fetish.   

          5 parts Learned Sexual Norm (subject to change)
          3 parts Utilitarian Landscaping 
          1 part Objective Visual Stimulus

  15. Before considering altering her body a woman might want to post a personal add somewhere like Craigslist saying “Large Labia – Woman seeks man who likes big coochie lips.  Should also be rich, happy, and handsome.”

    I’m kind of guessing she’ll get lots of positive feedback.  

  16. Well, I’ve been married for a long time and so haven’t been encountering any new ladyparts.

    That said, I have trouble imagining any man (who is not a complete asshole) reaching the point where he is in close enough proximity to a vagina to form an opinion, and then deciding that it is not good enough.

    In other words, what kind of asshole would interrupt a passionate embrace to criticize someone’s sexy bits?

    On the other hand, we all find images in the world that tell us what we should look like.  It is hard to turn a blind eye to it, even if nobody we love (or who deserves our love) is paying it the least bit of attention.

    1.  Apparently it happens the other way round a decent amount, with men who are circumcised/uncircumcised and women who have a preference or no experience with one or the other.

  17. And please tell me why, WHY the current aversion to pubes? Vaginas are so cute with pubes!

    Trimming I get it, but shaving completely to look like a baby, that’s kinda creepy.

    1. I’ve actually met quite a few girls who have had boyfriends who insisted on it.  I think Its a porn thing.  Honestly, telling your partner that their genitals are unattractive seems like a good way to not have sex for a while.

    2. It’s becoming quite common for men to fully eradicate all fur down there. Don’t really get it.

      1. A little trimming avoids pubes getting rolled up into the condom and getting yanked out.

        But a full trim?  Crab lice maybe.  Or maybe it’s a gay thing.

        1. Not all of us gay dudes look like waxed dolphins who are the same deep shade of brown as a Thanksgiving turkey.  I am  a chunky, furry gay dude (aka a “bear”).  I do keep my garden tended, but have never (nor would) completely deforested.

    3. To give you some perspective, I don’t think it’s anything to do with looking like a baby. For me, it’s more a matter of there being more sensation without a covering of hair. That and the fact that I don’t think purple hair and brown pubes match that well. :p 

      Actually you’ll find that there’s a trend in porn towards hairy crotches at the moment. People have gotten so used to bare skin that now a healthy bush is now seen as exotic and kinky. One of the major adult stars of the moment, Stoya, has quite an attractive garden down there.  

      1. Yeah, that was my thought too, at first. But he/she didn’t say they felt ashamed, just “as ashamed”. “None” works fine with that statement.

    1.  The fact that there’s a running plot device for characters in American TV shows to feel angst and rejection and “coming to terms” about not having had their foreskins amputated, to me, says that your American culture has hangups about natural genitalia.

      1. I don’t watch much mainstream TV, admittedly, but I have seen a lot of TV shows and I’ve never even heard of that being a plot device. It’s not that I can’t imagine it happening, it just really can’t be as common as you apparently think.

          1. I thought the link you initially put in ( was interesting because it’s so militantly biased. At first I thought “whoa” looking at the list, but then read a few of the entries for shows I was familiar with and realized how much they were overblowing their case on that site.

            I think the comment I replied to implies something different than the reality… yes there is a long history of discussing and joking about circumcision in film and TV, including instances of characters being angsty about it, but not quite what you were suggesting (at least, what I interpreted to be your suggestion).

        1. What? You don’t watch Vulvas Before and After or Extreme Vaginoplasty: Home Edition?

  18. The latest reality TV show: Bob Johnson, Consultant Gynecologist. 
    Or maybe “National Geographic Presents: In Search of The Perfect Vagina”

    Also: Useless without pictures!

  19. There is this great show from the UK called “embarrassing bodies” where people come to a clinic to get treatment for ailments they have been embarrassed about. I assume the treatment if free and quick to entice them onto the show.

    Anyway the point is the show is all about how bodies are all different shaped sizes and colors and we need to be open minded about them. In fact they tend to concentrate on the more intimate parts of the body because that’s what people are embarrassed about. It’s a fantastic show, very educational.

    1.  oh my god awesome show. (american) never heard of it before.  thanks for mentioning it.

  20. You have to teach your kids critical literacy so they know how to filter the crap they see in the world on a daily basis and how to interpret it. Many societies in our modern world are dominated by mass marketing and consumerism. If you teach your children how to filter out the real meanings behind it all they will be happier more grounded people.

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