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My promise to you: Once this is all over, I will never use the word “labiaplasty” again. However, I thought this Marie Claire piece on the parallels between cosmetic surgery and genital mutilation was interesting enough to share (Thanks to RH Reality Check for picking this up). Marie Claire writer Arianne Cohen asks, “Should cosmetic surgery on your lady parts be banned?” Marge Berer, editor of Reproductive Health Matters, thinks so.
To Berer, labiaplasty—-cosmetic surgery which tinker’s with a specific lady part, the labia—-is America’s socialized, “free-choice” answer to the forced female genital mutilation that’s imposed for cultural and religious reasons in some countries. Says Berer:
The definition of [Female Genital Mutilation], according to the World Health Organization, includes any cutting of the labia, as well as part of or all of the clitoris. It is much more severe than what is being done by these plastic surgeons. But in all cultures, using a surgical procedure to conform to an external definition of what a woman’s genitals are supposed to look like is mutilation. . . . Societal pressure makes mothers and grandmothers in other cultures put their daughters through FGM, and I believe societal pressure here of a different kind is making young women think they should have their labia cut off.
I’m not insensitive to the social pressures on lady parts. I hope that all women are able to go through life with genitals that they’re comfortable with. But if that means doing whatever the hell you want to modify your own sex parts, hey, I support that. I understand why some women object to labiaplasty—-for the record, please keep all sharp, pointy things away from my vagina—-but if a woman wants to change her body in any way, I think that’s fine. Keep in mind that there’s a whole segment of the population—-transsexuals—-who have a pretty serious interest in keeping what Berer calls “genital mutilation” safe, accessible, and legal. Transsexuals also show that what some consider “natural”—-like the body we’re born with—-can oftentimes feel extremely abnormal to others.