I read this week that there has been a 70% increase in women turning to plastic surgeons for a labiaplasty, the reduction of the labia; this is a ridiculous concept to previous generations who were never subject to the same obsessions with a generic physical perfection. Programmes like Embarrassing Bodies, The Joy of Teen Sex and The Sex Education Show reveal an alarming number of teenage girls worried about the appearance of their vagina whilst as the same time young girls of a similar age in some regions of Africa are still subject to the barbaric ritual of female circumcision.
I appreciate that obviously there are instances of labiaplasty that are genuinely reducing pain or discomfort caused by large labia, but not when it is being sought as a reaction to over exposure to online pornography or naïve comments by inexperienced teenage boys; more needs to be done to encourage young women to feel happy and confident about their sexual self image.
As I’ve said before I’m not averse to plastic surgery, I think it can work wonders, and I’m not saying I’d never have something done, but I think it should be in moderation and with greater forethought. I believe there needs to be closer scrutiny on young girls seeking plastic surgery as a cure for low self esteem and body image insecurities. Once that kind of thing goes wrong it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to correct.
Perhaps a few sessions with a counsellor would benefit them much more than a session with a surgeon and a scalpel. Surgery is never going to improve the boy image of someone suffering from low self esteem or body dismorphic disorder. I see far too many young women obsess over parts of their body that they truly believe to be flawed and which I see as absolutely perfect. As the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
With this in mind, it has been interesting to watch some of the experiences on Channel 4’s Beauty & the Beast; but disappointing to see so many insecure women relying heavily on plastic surgery to comfort glaring self confidence issues. And perhaps that’s why those of us with disabilities or disfigurements don’t derive our self confidence from our physical appearance, we learn very early on to be recognised and celebrated for other attributes, ones that aren’t so transitory. Personality, intellect, charm, sense of humour, warmth and kindness; qualities that you can take anywhere (even through airport security) and remain with you for life.
Which leads me to Body Gossip, a brilliant national organisation which celebrates realistic beauty and encourages people to engage in dialogue about their bodies. They provide a platform to promote confidence and are working towards improving the representation of body image in the media. They have invited me to join them at Susie Orbach’s International Body Image Summit, Endangered Species, on Friday 4th March, the aim of which is to save future generations of girls from the misery that turns women against their own bodies. The challenge is to make people understand and to show them how they can do something about it, and to inspire them to embrace change.
I’m honoured to be asked to attend and really excited about the day, will let you know how it goes next week.
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