My oldest turns thirteen this year, and I still haven’t found my pre-pregnant body. I managed to lose more than my baby weight when I breastfed both kids, but the pounds snuck back on. I’m totally fine with it. After two kids, I’ve accepted that my stomach has a bit more padding and my breasts aren’t so perky.
I’ve trained myself to tune out the social expectation that we should lose our mum bod to be the sexier, firmer versions of younger selves. What I didn’t expect to see are ads telling me that I need a vaginal rejuvenation. When did I give people permission to judge my vagina?
Plastic surgery centers that specialize in tummy tucks and breast augmentation are touting vaginoplasty, a procedure that claims to make your vagina tighter. Yes, you read that right. Tighter. Plastic surgeons can also remove external skin for a “more aesthetic appearance” while they’re between your thighs.
For Mother’s Day, I received an ad–that was directed at (I assume ) my husband–touting “She hasn’t been the same down there since having kids so treat her to a tightening and rejuvenation.”
Let’s get some things straight. Getting my vagina lasered doesn’t sound like a treat. How about a 90-minute deep tissue massage or a month’s worth of house cleaning services? That sounds absolutely decadent.
Clearly, the beneficiary of such “rejuvenation” is the person who will be poking me with his meat stick. Women are inundated with messages on how to please men, but who’s teaching the men how to please women? When I was a consultant for a sex toy company, the majority of my female customers complained how sex wasn’t pleasurable for them. Many cited the lack of foreplay or stamina from their male partners. Surely having a tighter vagina would not solve the lack of female orgasms.
We’re being told we’re too fat, our boobs aren’t perky enough, and now we have to worry about the state of our vagina? Unrealistic expectations such as this only perpetuates the idea that women have to maintain their virginal status (aka tight vagina) to be sexy and desirable. I highly doubt most husbands marry their wives solely for tight love canals.
In addition to vaginoplasty, plastic surgeons also offer labiaplasty, which reduces the size of a woman’s inner labia–the smaller “lips” around the vaginal opening. Who decides on the proper length for a labia? Is there a chart similar to the one for our BMI? Obviously, there are medical reasons women choose to have this procedure, such as pain during intercourse. However, it’s become popular with girls under 18 for aesthetic reasons.
We should be teaching our daughters (and sons) that vulvas–the term for female external genitals–come in all shapes and sizes. The British Association of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology has commissioned a booklet that aims to educate girls on their genitalia and what’s normal. I think every who plans on having contact with vulvas should read it. Spoiler alert: most vulvas are “normal.”
As a teen, I wasn’t encouraged to look at myself “down there.” I’m not alone. Women and girls aren’t encouraged to examine and, in turn, accept their vulvas the way they are. The social pressures for skinny bodies with Barbie-esque breasts along with tighter vaginas and hairless, prepubescent pudendum creates a battle no woman will win.
I’ll stick to my kegel exercises–but only if I want to.
photo via Getty