No part of a woman's body is exempt from unrealistically high standards - and that includes the vagina. Thanks to porn films showing generally hairless women with 'perfect' rosebud labia, both men and women alike have adopted an expectation that this is what every vagina should look like. But in the same way our faces look different, so do our genitals - and it's completely natural to do so. The rise in labiaplasty surgery - an operation to reshape or shorten the lips of the vulva - is worrying confirmation that, for young people especially, the aesthetic of their vagina is a source of low self-esteem.
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It can help with body image anxiety. Now, her latest work puts vulvas and vaginas in the spotlight thanks to her new book Womanhood: The Bare Reality and forthcoming Channel 4 documentary: Vaginas. And when women share intimate photos and deeply personal experiences relating to their vaginas, the result is a tender yet taboo-exploding message of women reclaiming their womanhood. I think a part of me was shying away from that intimacy because I would have to address my own related experiences. The correct language and understanding of female genitalia is so important to me: the vulva is the whole external package, the vagina is a muscular tube which leads from the cervix the neck of the womb down to the vulva. Later, a BBC report about girls as young as nine seeking labiaplasty — surgery that involves the lips of the vagina being shortened or reshaped — because they were distressed by its appearance, had Laura reaching for her camera again.
Maggie Kirkman is a member of the Australian Psychological Society. We may be less familiar with the idea that similar judgements are made about the vulva. The vulva includes the inner lips labia minora and outer lips labia majora , the clitoris, and the vaginal opening. Labia can be long or short, wrinkled or smooth, dark or light. One side is often longer than the other, consistent with the asymmetry of most body parts.
John G. Aesthetic alteration of the genitalia is increasingly sought by women unhappy with the size, shape, and appearance of their vulva. Although the labia minora are usually the focus of concern, the entire anatomic region—minora, labia majora, clitoral hood, perineum, and mons pubis—should be evaluated in a preoperative assessment of women seeking labiaplasty.