For most of my life, I wanted plastic surgery: breast implants. As a young woman, I waited and waited for breasts. My mom had them, my aunts had them, so I surely would get them, right? No, not so much. When I realized I wouldn’t be developing any further, I was devastated. It was a rite of passage for me. It was something that happened when you became a woman. So what about when you never become a woman?
Well, this was a question that plagued me as a youth. I researched different types of implants: Silicone vs. Saline, the teardrop shape, over the muscle or underneath. I thought of things I could do to save up and afford them, even registering for a website where disgusting pervy guys donate money to you for implants. Ew, I know.
Luckily I stayed broke enough never to get the surgery. As I aged and matured, I eventually adopted different ideas and opinions surrounding the issue. I’m still not happy with my body, but I’ve come to accept it, and now I find it unnatural to stuff something synthetic into our bodies. I don’t judge anyone who has had work done; it’s simply no longer something I could relate to.
I can’t help but still hold the same ideals of beauty I always have. I still want that hourglass figure, taut and toned, right? But I realized that the cliche of “everyone is different” is correct. And it’s much deeper than that.
Now I think I can say that I would never elect for any number of surgeries available today. I might do a chemical peel as I get older, but that freaks me out after the one I accidentally got in my early twenties. It burned a lot and scared me, but that’s a story for another time.
There are so many options these days for enhancing your look and some are more private than others. Recently I was reading about labiaplasty, a surgery where you have your labia hacked off to have more of a ‘porn star’ vagina, whatever that means. Women get this surgery as the result of porn and emotionally immature men making jokes about ‘beef curtains’ and ‘bat wings,’ and sometimes of course because they medically need the procedure. The number of uncircumcised adult males that elect to get circumcised as adults are undetermined, but around 55% of men are circumcised at birth, a percentage that has been dropping since the 80’s. See, men do decide to get snipped for health reasons, sometimes religion, and sometimes for the look of it. A male circumcision costs an average of $1,000 and takes 30-60 minutes on average. A labiaplasty costs women $3000-$8000 and takes 1-2 hours.
Where is the justice in that? Both are mostly cosmetic procedures. Male circumcision began due to concerns of cleanliness — which is hilarious to me as a woman, just because your outsides have an inside doesn’t mean you can’t clean it — but continues due to desired aesthetics. I can understand that. I remember being a young girl and wondering if circumcised shlongs were different than uncut ones. If somehow they were scarier, larger, or more likely to get me pregnant. I can imagine young men, seeing their friends change or shower in a locker room, might be embarrassed by being “uncut.” Okay, that’s cool, we all have our issues. Pay $3,000-8,000 for your cosmetic/ plastic surgery then.
Is genital shaming a thing? This whole thing got going in my mind when I saw a documentary following this young girl who was ashamed of her vagina. When she went to the surgeon — a man, to reaffirm her decision — he was theatrical about her measurements. Like, “Oooh yes you’re an excellent candidate” and that shit just pisses me off. It was his delivery that was so patronizing. Maybe it’s true, maybe she was a “great candidate,” but now you’re just another man from whom she thinks she needs to seek approval.
The culture lately surrounding plastic surgery is crazy. People are getting “work done” more and more and at even younger ages. I don’t like to blame the media because I feel in doing so I’m taking away accountability from the public, but surely things like reality shows and the tabloids have something to do with it.
As these surgeries become more mainstream and affordable, I fear that it will become the norm. Instead of addressing our body image issues, we will instead use various operations to change the way we look. In the end, our children won’t even look like us in the organic innocence of their birth.