A Very NSFW Look At What Fuels The Labiaplasty Industry

Photographed By Nicholas Bloise.
Asking what a "normal" vulva looks like, says plastic surgeon Dr. David Caminer, is "the same as asking, 'What does a normal face look like?' or 'What does a normal nose look like?'" In other words, he explains, "one can't really say there is a norm." While Dr. Caminer acknowledges how much female genital anatomy can vary, from size to pigment to proportion, he nevertheless contributes to the labiaplasty industry in Australia, one of many countries where the procedure (wherein women's labia minora or inner labia are cut out using scissors or a scalpel) is thriving, as well as in the U.S. and abroad. This is due, in large part, to a skewed idea of what is "appropriate" about women's bodies — and, oddly enough, to censorship.

While differences in labia appearance are easily described and imagined, they're much harder to come across in mainstream media — particularly in soft-porn magazines. According to the video below (which, warning, is extremely graphic and NSFW), from Australian news program Hungry Beast, certain regulations in the country bar the publication of any images with "genital detail" or "emphasis." This means that all vulvas in soft-porn magazines must only show the outer labia and any protruding inner lips must be photoshopped, reducing them to a "single crease," to borrow a phrase from a graphic designer who wished to remain anonymous in the video. Simply put, inner labia have been deemed inappropriate for mass viewing.

Many of these magazines state that they simply want to avoid unwanted attention from the Australian censorship board, but that defense fails to the recognize the effect these images may have on the women who see them. For many (specifically heterosexual) women, their only opportunity to see what other vulvas look like is in porn, soft or otherwise. When mainstream platforms show just one type of vulva ad nauseam, it's tough not to feel self-conscious, especially if your own genitals deviate from what censors have deemed acceptable. It's when this societal pressure becomes so great that some may believe a labiaplasty is their best option.

While the video doesn't discuss this issue at length, the language used (most frequently by men) to describe women's labia only enforces the idea that one type is more preferable than another. Vulvas with visible inner labia are described as "untidy," "bulky," and "too pendulous," while Dr. Caminer refers to labiaplasty as the "surgical improvement of female labia." It's up for debate whether these words were used to reflect the men's own perspectives or those of others, but they draw unpleasant associations nonetheless.

Watch the full video below, and please be prepared for graphic, surgical images.
Video Via YouTube.
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