So, I was driving home from work the other day listening to ABC radio 702 and daydreaming about the meat that I had forgotten to get out of the freezer for tea (it wasn’t a good daydream) when something happened.  I nearly put MYSELF through the windscreen when the conversation turned to the growing  “designer vagina”  craze. WHAT?  WHAT  is one of them and show me a woman who has the time to care…..

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Anyway, I listened on. So each year over 1000 women (see, they do exist) undergo surgery on their lady bits in the name of beauty. The reasons cited for the surgery vary from want to look “neater”  down their, to  improve “the look” of skimpy underwear, to look good in holiday snaps and to give them more confidence.  So what happens next?

Well, the operation is called a labioplasty which means that the “designer vagina” should be re-named the “designer vulva” only that doesn’t rhyme and sounds too much like a very sensible car to get any air play.   Basically it involves a surgeon sculpting and re-shaping your private parts to your specifications while you lay back (anesthetized) and dream of the perfect future that you are creating. Ouch.

While not  all operations are cosmetically motivated there exists a growing band of women who want perfection “down under”. What I want to know now is what does perfection look like? What are we doing with our lives to warrant giving our reproductive organs so much thought? Have we not got school homework to supervise,  boardroom meetings to run, friends to catch up with and charities to donate our excess money to?  Come on….

But it doesn’t stop there. Once we have surgically tweaked our vagina we then feel the need to keep the surrounding area trimmed, coloured, silky smooth, even tanned and tattooed with “keep off the grass”.  That sounds like seriously high maintenance.

So, I sat back and thought for a moment and as always I got a bit of inspiration from my kids (who happen to be girls). They were playing with barbie dolls (in a let’s go camping, Thelma and Louise outback adventure style)  and it suddenly occurred to me.  Women are using  Barbie as their “designer vagina” role model.  Well, that’s just great but there is about as much between Barbies legs as there is between her ears and that isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.

I soon decided that I probably have a “designer vagina” only mine didn’t cost me anything! It’s not that I am against people taking care of themselves or even having fun with their bodies (including “that” part) but what bothers me more is the social pressure that some women feel under to comply to an unrealistic standard.  Our bodies do not come out of a plastics mould and variety is the spice of life so guys, keep your hands OFF it because I prefer my vagina with a bit of character (too much information). Sorry!

Update: 21st January 2010.

I was outraged to discover an article in “Cosmetic Surgery Magazine” Issue 44, 2009  using the term “Labia Minora Prolapse” to describe what is a perfectly natural state of affairs!  The labia minora (or inner lips) are quite often longer than the outer lips and can also look  darker in colour than the surrounding skin due to their rich blood supply.    Now, in our over-sanitised and ‘barbie girl’ world I can totally understand why many women now look at what they have and feel like a fanny failure when they are just being ‘normal’ (whatever that is).

 I am not a doctor but the definition of a prolapse is “to fall out of place”  – a term that is used for our organs rather than our skin (would we really say that our skin had ‘prolapsed’? Therefore I believe that medicalising this state of affairs is at best over-cautious and at worst emotionally crippling for the women involved.

How many of these women have had a good, hard (pardon the pun) look at a man’s bits close up? No oil painting!

I respect our right to choose how we look and that includes every bit of us but are our expectations a little too high?  Is that wrong? And what do we tell our daughters?

Remember surgery is a choice with an age limit whereas  genetics is a natural lottery.

If you are considering surgery you may enjoy watching this from Chanel 4: embarrassing Illnesses.