You Had Surgery Where?


My beloved asked me this week if I had seen the photos going viral of the contestants in the Miss Korea 2013 pageant. Of course he wasn’t actually aware that the photos were contestants until I pointed it out. Being Korean himself, he gets his share of Asian pinup girl photos in his inbox and YouTube feeds. So, he just thought it was some sort of Facebook spam at first. He also thought the photos were all of the same girl. That of course was the common perception among a great many folks who saw the images, thus the viral reaction. He was very surprised that women would go to such lengths to achieve such an eerily similar look, completely obliterating any shred of diversity in their appearances.Then I made his face nearly hit the floor. I pointed out to him that women are now also opting for a very different kind of plastic surgery. They are having their lady-parts recrafted into someone’s (goodness knows I cannot imagine whose) idea of ideal. Plastic surgery on your face? This I can sort of wrap my head around. Sort of being the key phrase in the sentence. I can get some vague perspective on why someone would want to present whatever they think is their best visage to the world. I can even understand the boob job, at least in part. I particularly feel for those so well endowed that their voluminous girls cause them back trouble, or for those struck by breast cancer. I have less sympathy for those wanting merely to create more distracting cleavage, but whatever floats your boat.

But just exactly when do we finally say that cosmetic surgery has crossed the line from understandable to over-the-top efforts to meet a perceived demand for a uniform definition of female beauty? I had thought that the adage was that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and therefore subject to a wide variety of individual tastes. Diversity if you will.

Personally, I draw the line at surgery in the down-below bits. In case you hadn’t heard, yes, this is a thing. And, that’s just one news outlet. These procedures are “labiaplasties”. They’ve been mislabeled by the media hacks as “vaginal surgery” which is not correct.

Check your nearest copy of Gray’s Anatomy or any high school or college biology textbook. The labia are external. They are lips, just like the ones on your face. The lips on your face are not the same as your tongue or your throat. By the same token, the labia are not the vagina. The vagina is the internal passage and is also not the same as the urethra. This is not a biology class, so I’m getting off the mark here. What it actually is, is me on a horror-struck feminist rant with a hefty dose of shocked nurse. It’s really, really hard to truly shock a nurse, so when you get a rise out of one take it to heart.

Truthfully, unless it is vitally–and I do mean vitally–medically necessary I don’t want anyone messing about down there with anything sharp. For “cosmetic” reasons? Have you lost your mind? How is “cosmetic” even an adjective that has even the most remote basis in reality when it comes to parts that few if any of us ever even see? Your gynecologist, general practitioner, or (heaven forbid you need one) urologist does not care. Neither, by the way will the nurses. Male or female, we’ve seen ’em all in more shapes, sizes, colors, conditions, ages and variations than the average person can conceive. Diversity. Get it? After a while, you get pretty jaded about the whole thing.

Shortly after that, you get to realizing that cute little butts are only cute when they are brand spanking new baby bottoms that have been recently cleaned up. By someone else. Diapered bottoms belonging to fluffy folks who on average weigh plus or minus 300 pounds are by no means cute. Neither are well tended but saggy, baggy bottoms, long-since succumbed to gravity. You start life in a diaper and chances are you’re going to end it there, but you won’t be looking quite as adorable by the time you do.

As for the lady-parts, I’ve gotta say that it takes some effort to get to where you can see them anyway. What in the name of Hades did you think stirrups were invented for? We’re not exactly talking about panoramic views here. Unless you’re in the porn industry, if someone is close enough to get a good view down there one of two things is happening. In the first case, the entire scene is clinical which by definition means it is boring as hell. In the second case, someone is about to get lucky, which is hopefully not boring as hell. I suppose I can’t speak for anyone else (and to be fair, I can’t speak at all for any ladies who might be interested in highly recreational contact with the girly bits of other females), but there’s not a heterosexual male I’ve ever met who is thinking anything but “hell, yeah!” when he’s making that kind of acquaintance with your nether regions. If he is, he needs a psychiatrist. If you care that he needs one, you need the psychiatrist immediately after you get the heck outta there pronto, PDQ, Stat, and as fast as your little legs can carry you.

And oh yes, you need the same psychiatrist–or perhaps a better one because clearly the first one’s not working out so well–if you think your delicate flower needs further sculpting beyond the mystical folds in which it was originally cast. Yes. Flower. Think Georgia O’Keefe. When’s the last time you heard anyone suggest that a rose, a lily, or a daffodil needed a plastic surgeon? Also while you’re at it, pop the porno DVD out of the player–or exit your browser–and step away from the screen. Ditto the remote if applicable.

The nurse/clinician/scientist in me is clearly horrified at the very idea that some poor, benighted soul could be so desperate as to imagine that labiaplasty is in any way, shape or form a good idea. The first question that springs to my mind is, “Why?” As in “Why would you do this?” It seems to me that the obvious answer is that somewhere or another you’ve come up with the idea that you want to be more attractive. This leads me to conclude that you do not want to be more attractive merely to sit decoratively on a shelf. Rather, your aim is to be more attractive, thereby have more sex and presumably be more loved. That sex and love do not necessarily go hand in hand is an entirely different kettle of fish, and not what I’m haranguing about in the first place.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the simple goal is merely to be sexually attractive, and by extension have more sex. This is where my nurse brain starts to lose it. For starters, think about the last time you had the flu or even better, a sore throat. You felt miserable. You didn’t want to move. If your throat was sore, probably food was strictly optional. This, my friends is an infection. If an infection in your throat will make you willing to starve rather than swallow so much as a calorie, do you think for a hot second that an infection there is going to make you feel like having more sex? Indeed, any at all? Because I’m pretty sure it’s not going to feel good. Not even a little. Why worry about infections? Well, infections do happen after surgery much as we try to prevent them, that’s why.

Another thing that can’t possibly be prevented is a scar of some kind or another. You’re cutting flesh. It’s going to leave a mark even if it’s reconstructive. I’ve got a teensy, very well healed surgical scar on my neck. In fact it’s so well healed that unless I pointed it out you probably wouldn’t notice it. Funny thing is that, when I absentmindedly scratch an itch near there, it doesn’t quite feel the same anymore. Changing how I perceive sensation on an inch long section at the front of my neck is no big deal. On the other hand, if the inch long section of my anatomy that’s affected is jam packed with more nerve endings per square millimeter than anyplace else (you guessed it, the lady-parts) then oh, hell to the no I do not want anyone messing with that. Maybe you don’t mind decreasing the sensations you experience during your “Big O” moment, though any possible reason why eludes me completely.

Another thing that can go wrong when drastic changes occur downstairs, is issues with what we pros call “continence”. In other words, whether you will or will not embarrass yourself on a routine basis by peeing yourself or requiring Poise pads at the age of twenty-five. Either way, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this may do far less for your sex appeal than labia that you don’t think look as good as the next girl’s. Seriously? I can’t even believe that’s a conversation let alone a concept.

Lastly, this is what my hipster friends hasten to call “such a first-world problem.” The lack of ethics involved in convincing some hapless female that she needs to voluntarily mutilate her genitalia is stunning. Half a world away, women are struggling to help prevent forced genital mutilation of young girls, and doctors are volunteering to do surgeries to cure problems like incontinence and rectovaginal fistulas caused by these “procedures.”

What in the world can people possibly be thinking to voluntarily subject themselves to such risk in the name of vanity? It may even be worse than merely vanity. It’s really about obliterating any semblance of diversity. Never mind racial diversity. That’s an obvious marker of nature’s creativity. If we’re down to the level of scrutinizing female beauty to the point of comparing one woman’s jewel box to another, it’s time to take a step back. Get down to some truly real minutiae. Go study a handful of leaves, or rocks, or blades of grass, or even–since it’s winter–some snowflakes on your mittens. Diversity rocks, and so does your va-jay-jay in all its diverse glory.

Kathleen Ronan is a writer and a specialist in meditation for medical applications, a harpist, a bookworm, and a renaissance woman. She is the Assistant Editor at Magnificent Nose.

Photo by Smabs Sputzer, via Flickr


2 thoughts on “You Had Surgery Where?

  1. I just peed myself reading this — not that the idea of females signing up for this surgery is even remotely funny. It is horrifying. And a pox on any doctor who will do it — all in the name of greed. I think these women’s brains, such as they are, are in their nether regions as well.

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