(For a body “ideal” that does not actually exist, I add.) From feministcurrent:
The latest reports from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeries indicate that the number of labiaplasty surgeries performed between 2011 and 2012 increased 64 per cent, and went up again 44 per cent between 2013 and 2014 (ASAPS, 2015). While it might be tempting to dismiss labiaplasty as just another form of plastic surgery, it represents the reality that the objectification of women’s bodies is no longer limited to their most visible parts. There is no longer any aspect of a woman and her body that are safe from scrutiny and appearance standards; even the most private parts are now public. Although the argumenthas been used before with other forms of plastic surgery, “empowered choice” is not the only thing occurring when women elect to have aesthetic labiaplasty.
Labiaplasty refers to the surgical reduction of what a woman feels like are “enlarged” labia minora. Women undergo this surgery to eliminate skin protruding past the labia majora (the outer ones), reducing the labia minora (the inner ones) to relative invisibility. Interestingly, there is no provenrelationship between the size of a woman’s labia and her ability to experience sexual pleasure. In short, this means that neither bigger, nor smaller, is better when it comes to sexual satisfaction.
Unlike other forms of female genital plastic surgery, arguably performed to improve sexual function and health, aesthetic labiaplasty exists for appearance reasons alone. This highlights the hypersexualization of women’s bodies, in which women are electing surgery that in no way benefits the woman herself, sexually (neither increasing pleasure nor functionality). The only conceivable way that aesthetic labiaplasty might benefit a woman, is in how it reduces her experience of internalized shame about her sexualized body — a shame that comes from a (societally-driven) feeling that her vulva doesn’t matchculturalexpectation. Contrary to what some would have you believe, women aren’t really chopping off their labia to “fit into yoga pants.”
Medically speaking, it is not unusual for women to have labia of different size, colour, or length — in fact, “normal size” labia can range from 2cm to 10cm in length. But, it seems that there is more that shapes women’s feelings about her vulva than what is medically healthy or normal. Not surprisingly, pornography is one of the most significant influences on what women believe to be “normal” when it comes to about vulvas.Recent research indicates that when women actively consume pornography, they are more likely to internalize the appearance ideals communicated through this form of media, which results in dissatisfaction with their vulvas.
In other forms of surgery, two other important psychological steps take place for a woman to consider plastic surgery for appearance reasons alone: appearance-contingent self-worth and self-objectification. Unsurprisingly, both these steps are culturally dependent. The more a woman sees her self-worth as based on appearance, the more likely she is to try to look like the “ideal,” or take measures — even dangerous ones — to reconcile the difference between what she looks like, and what the parts of sexualized women’s bodies look like in the media.
This is also true of labia: if a woman judges her worth based on her appearance, and her vulva is noticeably different than the vulva viewed by herself or her partner in pornography, the more likely she is to try and “do something about it” to feel “good.” Thanks to so-called “feminist” sites like The Frisky, we can all know what it’s like to go from “roast beef” to “pretty down there.”
© and read the rest of this piece: Aesthetic labiaplasty is never just a ‘choice’ - Feminist Current