Prude To Nude: Learning To Love My Womanly Parts

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vagina body image
One brave woman poses for a sculpture that shows there is beauty in all bits.

The other night as I sat down to enjoy a tasty pizza dinner, I flipped on the television just in time to see a close-up shot of a woman's labia being "trimmed" by a surgeon.

"Look!" I shrieked at my fiancé, as I involuntarily crossed my legs. "Look what they're showing! How can they show that on regular TV?!?" David glanced up from his pepperoni, barely raising an eyebrow.

"It's educational," He shrugged.

Yes, you could say that the Broadcasting Commission in Ireland is a bit more relaxed than our ol' FCC. Since I moved to Dublin last August, I am constantly throwing a hand to my mouth a la Goody Proctor, shocked by what they can get away with. Janet Jackson could not only flash her nipple here, she could shave it and cover it in shamrocks. So long as it was educational.

But back to the vagina trimming…the program was called "The Perfect Vagina," and while it did put me off my Hawaiian pizza, it was a fascinating look at the latest cosmetic surgery craze—labiaplasty. Apparently women are no longer satisfied with merely having boobs like a porn star, they now want the whole package, and are paying doctors to "sculpt" their vaginas into what they believe is a more aesthetically pleasing look.  In the UK alone, the number of labiaplasties has doubled in the past five years, and—never one to miss a trend—the surgery is quickly gaining popularity in the US. With a look of not-so-thinly veiled horror, the TV journalist explained that women as young as 14 are approaching doctors about the surgery. I Had Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery

I was feeling rather ill as I watched gruesome footage of a 21-year-old convalescing post-op, and so was grateful when the program shifted to a more inspirational note, and began a segment on Jamie McCartney.   

McCartney is a British artist who is currently working on a sculpture he is calling "Design a Vagina." Using only volunteers, he is making casts of 200 women's vaginas, and displaying them together in 40 block panels. He wants to show people that where vaginas are concerned, "the variety of shapes is endlessly fascinating, empowering and comforting."

And indeed they were. As I stared at the sculptures he was displaying for the cameras, I was astonished. I honestly did not know there was such a smorgasbord of vulva out there. And I've seen my share of porn. But I guess the porn industry really does adhere to a rather strict labia code, because I'd never seen such variety. Maybe it was just seeing so many vaginas all lined up side by side that really highlighted how different they all are. I found myself squinting at the screen, wondering which one most resembled my own. And that was when I realized, with a blush of shame, that I had absolutely no idea. And I am 33 years old. A Surprising Fact About Your Clitoris

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