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Where all the labia are above average

September 6, 2010

One of the things that’s kept me from blogging recently – aside from family concerns, work, and all the ordinary stuff that keeps people from blogging – is this paralysis that comes when I find a story I want to blog about and then think “oh but there’ve been SO MANY I’ve missed, and some have been WAY more important than this…” and then this one gets missed as well.

Not today. Today a story got me angry me and I’m going to blog about it despite the fact that many other much more important stories have happened. I’m going to blog about this one because it grabbed me and if I don’t dive in I might never blog again.

I learned it from Dr. Petra Boynton and as I read her post I heard Garrison Keillor’s voice in my head and instead of being soothed I was outraged, and so now I’m blogging.

What I heard in my head: That’s the news from Dallas/Fort Worth, where the breasts are too droopy, the faces are too wrinkly, and all the labia are above average.

The real story: A news anchor at the Dallas/Fort Worth CB 33 tv station read a story featuring a local woman and a local plastic surgeon. Here is a link to the video and story.

I’m angry about the use of the statistic, of course. Eighty percent? Really? And enlarged compared to what? Dr. Petra takes on the use of the statistic in her post. Here I’m going to vent about about the “bait and switch” tactic that is used to make women viewers insecure about their own bodies.

First of all, the news anchor positions the story as if it is about a serious health condition that prevents women from participating in ordinary everyday life. Things like sitting on airplanes, bending and twisting, and enjoying rides at amusement parks. But the plastic surgeon is clearly more interested in the fact that women who compare every part of their bodies to those bodies presented in fashion magazines are likely to feel insecure about every part of their bodies, including their labia.

Second of all, the “bait and switch” always leads us to do something to alter our bodies instead of altering our choices. While I don’t think most women actually do have a problem bending, twisting, or enjoying water slides because of their labia, let’s acknowledge that some items of clothing do pinch or bind and that replacing those with more comfortable clothing is a much better solution than surgery. If your skinny jeans are too tight, replace them with something that better accomodates your body. Shave some money off your checking account instead of shaving tissue off your labia. We’ll have our bodies a whole lot longer than those jeans will be in style!


NOTE: I don’t doubt that there are women whose labia are large enough to cause problems that can’t be corrected with different clothing and consciousness raising. We obviously need better understanding of women’s bodies, the diversity of those bodies, and the challenges we contend with in managing our bodies. To that end, I’d like to echo a previous post, and also Dr. Petra’s reminder, and encourage everyone to check out the New View Campaign and it’s Sept. 26 Framing the Vulva conference in Las Vegas.


Image of Clitoria ternatea from Wikimedia Commons



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