1.21.2013

In Search of the Perfect Vulva

The Perfect Vagina
WARNING: MATURE CONTENT MATTER. THIS VIDEO CONTAINS NUDITY AND SHOWS IMAGES FROM A LABIAPLASTY


I came across this documentary on a list serve a few months back, but didn't have time to watch it at that moment. However, as luck would have it, I came across it again with lots of time on my hands. I got myself comfortable in our office as the hubs watched the NFC and AFC championship games in the living room. Can you imagine the look on his face when he popped his head in and saw a glimpse of the surgery? Anywho, I felt this documentary was well-done and gave perspective on the motivation behind labiaplasty as the documenter, Lisa Rogers, hoped to influence other women to love themselves the way they are instead of altering their "fannies."

I myself have never had insecurities regarding the appearance of my vulva. The correct term of the female genitalia is vulva whereas vagina is only a part of it. I can thank my mother for my confidence. Before getting married last September, I lived in a house with two other women (my mom and sis) and we walked around naked all the time. Sure, we covered up in the winter or when company came over, but we were taught at an early age to not be ashamed of how we look, to be comfortable in our own skin. And before you ask (or think for that matter), there was nothing sexual about it. If we were going from our rooms to the shower or getting an item of clothing from another part of the house, it just wasn't a big deal if we didn't have our clothes on. AND my mom never made us feel bad for how we looked. I don't know; I think it was a pretty cool thing. However, as I grow as a therapist, I learn that so many people had distinctly different experiences. Not everyone can walk around their homes "buckin' naked," partly because they may have been teased about bodily imperfections by relatives. I have a co-worker with large breasts who told me her mother teased her often about them. She researched having a breast reduction, not because their weight produced back strain, but to reduce the negative attention she received from her family. Then along came a boy who told her she was pretty and, well, that'll be a story for another day.

Although this documentary was filmed in the UK and released in 2008, labiaplasty is a booming business in the United States. There are several cosmetic surgeons with flourishing practices who only focus on this procedure. The way some view labiaplasty is the same way some people view braces: "I have an imperfection I'd like to fix." As someone who experienced "Brace Face" as an adult, I can understand this perspective. Braces were painful. I mean, seriously. And the recovery from labiaplasty is no crystal stair. However, the fact that remains that there's a perceived imperfection that women feel the need to fix.

...and I think that's my biggest issue. Women don't really see their vulvas unless they're trying to. If you stand naked in a mirror while dressing, you won't see the inner workings unless you're making an effort to do so. Because of this, I think so many women aren't able to feel comfortable with what they have and only compare their vulvas to the perfect, airbrushed examples they see in porn. Also, most women aren't told their vulvas will change with sexual activity or with childbirth and when this happens, they're thrown for a loop with imperfect parts, not realizing the breadth of variety of vulvas.

While watching this documentary, I instantly thought about Psalm 139 where David praises God for making him so wonderful. Conceited? Absolutely not! Think about it; if God made us in His image (male and female), and we're acknowledging His wonderful creation, isn't that an act of praise to God? When we were fashioned, all our parts were made special and magnificent. Yep, those parts too. And to change your vulva into something that looks prepubescent is almost disrespectful.

I know people will continue to compare labiaplasty to braces or other cosmetic surgeries. However, I think it speaks to a deeper issue of self-worth that surgery alone can't fix. Yes, this surgery has changed the lives of many women. However, are they completely happy with themselves? Or have they valued the wonderful creation they are?

Questions, questions, and more questions. One thing is for sure. I love me, all of me, and I hope you love you too.

Scriptural References:
Psalm 139:13-16 MSG "Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like and open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived on day."

Psalm 139:14 AMP "I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well."

Psalm 139:14 NIV "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

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