Note to self: Barbie's vagina is not normal.

This is where we’re at now.

According to researchers from the University of Queensland School of Psychology, women think that modified vaginas look more normal, well, normal ones.


In their experiment, researchers surveyed 97 women aged between 18 and 30. The women were divided into three groups.

One group was shown pictures of modified genitalia  i.e. of vaginas that had undergone labiaplasties, or other forms of surgical ‘enhancement’. (Yeah, we’re not sure that’s the right word either.) The second group was shown pictures of unaltered genitalia, and the third group wasn’t shown any images.

Then, each group was shown a mix of altered and unaltered genitalia and asked to rate their ‘normality’ and how well they fit ‘society’s ideal’.

From the BCOJ:

The study found that women who had initially viewed the modified vulvas identified the modified images in the second screening as more normal than the non-modified vulvas. This was significantly different from the control group, who initially viewed no images, and were 18% less likely to rate the modified vulvas as normal.

Furthermore, when asked to rate the images according to society’s ideal of genitalia, women in all three groups rated the modified images as more like society’s ideal than the non-modified vulva images. Again, women who initially viewed the modified images were 13% more likely to rate the modified vulvas as more society’s ideal than the control group.

In short, the women who were exposed to images of modified vaginas (i.e. the types of vaginas that are mandated in the Australian entertainment and media industry, and thrust upon us in a world of, not only surgical, but, digital alteration) were more likely to view those vaginas as normal and ideal.

The paper’s lead researcher, Claire Moran, told the BCOJ:

“These findings further heighten concerns that unrealistic concepts of what is considered normal may lead to genital dissatisfaction among women, encouraging women to seek unnecessary surgery.

“This research is the first to document the extent to which exposure may impact women’s genital dissatisfaction and more needs to be done to promote awareness and education around genital diversity in our society.”

Too right. Good on ya, UQ!

Do you think that the rise of designer vaginas is something we should be worried about?