“What’s your problem?” A website advertising the ‘FemLift‘ procedure asks. Is it incontinence? Dryness? Looseness?
Perhaps it’s the pigmentation or the shape of the “lips below your hips”?
Vaginal rejuvenation procedures are growing in popularity across the globe, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
“If you feel self-conscious about the way your vagina looks, it could adversely impact how beautiful, strong and desirable you feel,” the ISAPS website states, before telling you how more than 8,000 women in the US have undergone vaginal surgery in the last 10 years and that Kim Kardashian has had a “she-lift”, too. It’s a surgical procedure – called a labiaplasty – designed to ‘trim’ and ‘shorten’ the inner and outer labia in order to make the vagina appear more lady-like, just short of dressing it up in white gloves and making it curtsey.
“This popular procedure makes it possible to empower yourself with strength and beauty both inside and out,” the ISAPS website continues.
Surely, the word ’empower’ is misplaced? Until I saw the options, I didn’t realise I should be worried about the colour of my vagina or the ‘plumpness’ of my labia. Or that I even had “lips below my hips”… (Can I choose whose lips? Angelina’s or Mick Jagger’s, perhaps?)
Until I saw the potential ‘problems’ such as ‘looseness’ and ‘pigmentation’, I hadn’t considered feeling self-conscious about the way my vagina looks and feels – don’t women have enough to worry about? Last week I was told “hip dips” were a thing (those little dents below your hips before your thighs start that I thought were normal, until I was told I ought to feel ’empowered’ by them because only models have them and DIDN’T YOU KNOW? WE’RE NOT ALL MODELS) and then there are the muffin tops and the love handles and the neck rings and the way my eyebrows are shaped?
My vagina, I believed, was the least of my worries. I was only reserving enough energy to worry about the body parts I can actually see.
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In Australia the trend is the same as in the US. In the year 2000, 640 Australian women made Medicare claims for genital cosmetic surgery – this was before laser rejuvenation or minimally-invasive ‘labia plumping’ were even options. In 2011, the number had tripled and 1,565 woman claimed the same surgeries.
These numbers don’t include non-surgical procedures.
Procedures such as the Vagacial, which uses 24k-infused gold wax strips and LED light therapy to smooth and “brighten” the surface of the labia. Or the V-Tighten, which inserts a “360-degree laser” into the vaginal canal to promote collagen production. Or the V-Lighten, which does “what bleach can’t” and uses laser to lighten the labia’s pigment – all procedures offered by a clinic in New York, where vaginal rejuvenation is fast becoming the new botox.