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Labiaplasty in SundayStyles

One of the fundamental tenets of the women’s health movement was that everyone should be familiar with her body. This might seem obvious, but, before the ‘60s and ‘70s, women were generally taught that their bodies were, at best, mysterious, and, at worst, shameful. Medicine certainly treated them as if they were inferior versions of male bodies. To counter this view—and to save lives—pioneers in the women’s health movement encouraged their peers to really get to know and appreciate their bodies.

Cunt Coloring BookThis cultural moment was concurrent with the rise of sex-positive feminism and the birth of feminist porn. It’s not overstating the case too terribly to say that, as a result of these interrelated trends, women discovered the vulva. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, there was a small but significant explosion of vulvic art—from Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party to the erotic nature photography of Femalia to Tee Corinne’s Cunt Coloring Book. The message of all this imagery was that women’s bodies are beautiful, and that they are beautiful because they are unique.

Goodness, how things have changed. While we can still buy vulvic jewelry and vagina hand puppets, it seems we can also purchase plastic surgery to make our external genitalia symmetrical or to reduce “oversized” labia. I know I shouldn’t be surprised—we’re living in the perfect storm of commodification, consumerism, and rampant body dysmorphic disorder—but, in fact, I was. Beyond pointing out that the labia contain sensitive nerve endings vital to sexual satisfaction, I hardly know what to say. Mostly, I just feel sad. Maybe spending some time with my crayons and a coloring book will make me feel a little bit better…

November 30, 2004 | Permalink

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