Juliana Shulman's picture

Vagina in Vogue

In recent years, the number of women going under the knife for cosmetic genital surgery has skyrocketed. More and more women are regularly participating in painful bikini waxing procedures to return to the bare pubis of their youth, and increasing numbers of adolescents are seeking genital piercings to decorate their labia. The popularization of all of these procedures begs the question, what is the Western female genital aesthetic and how is it established? Furthermore, we must ask: What are the implications of women pursuing a genital ideal? 

American representations of the female genitalia are extremely varied. Certainly, there are aspects of a popular culture that celebrate the vagina. From paintings by Georgia O’Keefe to the popular activist play The Vagina Monologues, works of art and literature have represented the female anatomy in a positive light.  However, these positive expressions of female genitals and the accompanying symbolic power of vaginal iconography exist as counter-efforts and are far less prominent than the negative representations that prevail. 

BeckySharp's picture

The Explosion of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery

For release November 10, 2008

 We will be protesting to draw attention to this issue at the office of Dr. Ronald Blatt, 225 E. 64th Street from 12:00 noon to 2:00 on Monday, November 17.  Please join us to make a serious public statement. 

Research and Monitoring Needed for Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery New View Campaign demands Government and Medical Associations Examine Effects of Unregulated Genital Procedures: Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation, Designer Vaginoplasty, G-Spot Amplification, Revirgination, and Cosmetic Labiaplasty 

New York, NY_ Uncritical publicity about a new, unregulated, unmonitored, and untested genital cosmetic surgery industry has left the public dangerously misinformed, says the New View Campaign, a group opposed to the medicalization of women’s sexuality. Women assume that the new surgeries are safe and effective at their peril. “Surgeons make unsubstantiated claims about their procedures. Genital cosmetic surgery franchising spreads misinformation. Professional organizations, the FTC and the FDA are failing to protect women from harm. Before-and-after photos on clinic websites depict procedures that would be labeled ‘female genital mutilation’ in other parts of the world,” says group spokesperson Leonore Tiefer, Ph.D. a New York psychologist. 

“In September, 2007, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued a statement claiming ‘it is deceptive to give the impression that [these procedures] are accepted and routine’ and that ‘their safety and effectiveness have not been documented’  yet the advertising and franchising of these procedures has increased. We demand that the FTC limit the advertising activities of these cowboy surgeons until independent research assures consumers that their genital health is not being endangered.” 

On November 17 the New View Campaign will stage a protest in front of a NYC cosmetic genital surgeon’s office from 12-2PM. The specific location will be posted on on November 16. The group demands new regulations requiring that women requesting these procedures receive adequate information about possible scarring, chronic pain, obstetric risks, loss of genital sensation, reduced erotic pleasure, and post-operative anxieties. It also calls for independent post-procedure research to determine the extent of these adverse reactions. 

Education must be a larger part of the informed consent procedures for these surgeries, says Dr. Tiefer and other group members. “Following centuries of sexual misinformation and misogynist genital disgust, women requesting clitoral and labia reduction surgeries need accurate information about the wide range of normal genital configurations and measurements. Women inquiring about “G-Shots” must be told of the scientific controversy surrounding the purported existence of the G-Spot as well as informed of potential dangers.” 

For further information contact:

Leonore Tiefer, PhD; Clin Assoc Prof., NYU School of Med 212-533-2774

Lisa Rubin, PhD, Asst Prof Psychol, New School for Social Reseach,

Rachel Liebert, MA, Social-Personality Psych, CUNY Grad Ctr,


Syndicate content