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Love Your Genitals

by Anne Semans

During a recent visit to Southern California I had a disturbing experience. I picked up a copy of the weekly free paper and was confronted by a huge ad on the inside front page for plastic surgery. That came as no surprise—being as I was in the land of beautiful people—what horrified me were the ads for genital cosmetic surgery. Maybe I've had my head in the sand about this, but the ads for "labiaplasty" (nipping women's genital lips), "vaginal rejuvenation" (tightening the vaginal muscles) and "vaginal reconstruction" (tightening, shaping, sculpting) were everywhere.

This experience came shortly after reading the posts on ERWA's Designa Vagina: Lips to Die For forum (Inside The Erotic Mind) from women and men about labia size. It was disheartening to read how many women, particularly young women, were ashamed of their genitals and had considered plastic surgery. These feelings are certainly nothing new—generations of women have wondered whether their genitalia were "normal". After all, unlike men, we don't get to check out each others' goods in the locker room. Most of us are given little information, or permission to investigate our own privates, let alone anyone else's. Most of us are taught that our genitals are dirty, off limits and smelly—no wonder we have insecurities about them!

But instead of doing the right thing, teaching women about their genital anatomy and encouraging them to celebrate their uniqueness, our society opts instead to make a buck off our ignorance. Am I surprised? No. Look at how our obsession with the ideal body size has turned our children into anorexics and left women with a legacy of fad diets, tight-ass jeans, and leaky fake boobs. Look at how obsession with penis size has plagued men and launched an industry of penis-enlargement products and magic pills. The pharmaceutical companies, plastic surgeons, and marketing companies know they can get rich by convincing us all that our genitals need to be stamped out by a cookie cutter.

Here's a typical candidate for labiaplasty surgery, according to one online ad:

"Women who are either experiencing sexual dysfunction or embarrassment because their labia (labia minora) are over-sized or asymmetrical. Also women who dislike the large size or shape of their labia, which may cause inelegance or awkwardness with a sexual partner."

God forbid we be "inelegant" or "awkward" during sex! Another news flash: nipping your genitals won't make sex any less awkward or any more satisfying. Sex will always be messy and embarrassing at times. Being able to accept ourselves, to love our bodies, and to use them confidently with partners is fundamental to good sex. So let me set the record straight for any woman who is anxious about how her genitals look—no matter how big, small or differently sized your labia are, they are perfectly normal. 

women's labiaWomen's labias, just like our bodies, come in all sizes and shapes—there is no one standard. If you want proof, have an eye-opening encounter with this book featuring pictures of various vulvas of different colors and phases of excitement. Famalia (Joani Blank, 1993) will explode the myth of a "perfect" pussy, and you'll marvel at the diversity of genitalia features! This is a wonderful, one-of-a-kind book for women and their lovers.

And then there's the procedure called "vaginal rejuvenation" otherwise known as tightening up that loose vagina. Boy, just that phrase is obnoxious isn't it? Now even our vaginas are on a quest for their lost youth. Vaginas get stretched (surprise!) during childbirth, some snap back to their original shape, and some don't. What difference does it make? None really, from a sexual perspective. Claims that the surgery will "enhance sexual gratification" refer to the fact that a tight vagina will grip a penis better. Of course this isn't really about women's sexual gratification is it?! And it doesn't address the other factors that come into play here—penis size, condom use, lubricant, technique, personal preference, etc. A lot of women experience mild incontinence (the old "oops I sneezed and some pee came out"), which this procedure claims to rectify. But there are other, less drastic ways of addressing both these concerns and the first thing you should try are kegel exercises. 

Kegel Primer

Explore your PC muscle:
When you flex your PC muscle purposely you are performing "Kegel" exercises. To locate your PC muscle, try stopping the flow of pee in mid-stream. To exercise your PC muscle:

  • Place 2 fingers or a dildo in the outer third of the vagina.
  • Try tightening or clenching your PC muscles.
  • Attempt to "suck in" your fingers into your vagina by pulling in with your muscles.
  • Try to force them out by bearing down.
  • Now repeat the motion: tighten and hold for three seconds, then relax for three seconds. Ultimately you want to work up to 100 repetitions in one session, then do this a couple times a day.

Ultimately, your real goal is self-acceptance. I found it ironic how all the men who posted on the ERWA board spoke lovingly and affectionately about women's genitals. It reminded me of how women time and again tell men that penis size doesn't matter, yet men appear to remain unconvinced. Our insecurities have a tight hold on our psyches, making us ripe for exploitation. I hope you can walk away from this article full of love for your own body; if not please make use of the suggested resources and exercises, particularly if you feel yourself tempted by the surgeon's knife. And if my rant isn't enough to dissuade you from plastic surgery, I hope these final words will: Michael Jackson's face.

© 2007 Anne E. Semans. All rights reserved.

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