“A New Beginning… A New You…”
These are the very first words that greet you on the website for the Manhatten Center for Vaginal Surgery, below a pink flowery banner with rotating images of young, attractive women. The Center would like you to know that it offers Vaginal Rejuvenation, Vaginoplasty, and Labiaplasty for $9900 and Hymen Repair for only $5600. Under Labiaplasty, it lists a few reasons why women might want this elective surgery, one being:
Cosmetic Reasons: Women who are unhappy or embarrassed with the way their labia look. Often this affects sexual relationships and self esteem. Some women just want to look as beautiful as they can for themselves and their partner. With the increasing openness of society to sexuality and greater exposure to sexually explicit materials, labiaplasty is becoming increasingly popular.
So if your partner watches a lot of porn and has a distorted view of what your labia should look like, don’t worry! You can tailor-make your own so you won’t be embarrassed or disappoint them!
What kind of message is this sending??
I began thinking about cosmetic vaginal surgery while reading the New York Times article on repairing the hymen for religious reasons. Then I wondered how common this would be for purely cosmetic purposes. An article from Women’s E News spoke volumes. Dr. David Matlock, just one plastic surgeon, performs 40 to 60 vaginal cosmetic surgeries a month at his practice in Beverly Hills- the plastic surgery capital of the country. I’ll admit, I was shocked to see such a high number, especially when you think about how many this could mean are being performed in the country each year, coupled with the fact that this article was written in 2004. Dr. Pamela Loftus, Boca Raton, asks her patients why they elect to have this procedure before beginning:
“The most common reason we hear is that they have had a negative comment made by a male sexual partner. Women are made to feel that they are not perfect the way they are and often it’s the partner that sets this off.”
I don’t imagine that there are many women who, not having been exposed to the standardized “perfect” vaginas of the porn industry, would look down and say, “Wow, I think I should get my labia fixed so I’ll be prettier and feel better about myself.” Many reports state that negative feedback from a male partner is the number one reason why women elect to have these surgeries. I knew that cosmetic surgery was becoming more prevalent in American culture, but I had no idea of the extent to which some women were going, and so frequently!