I was emailed the link to this article on the NZ Herald about the rise of labiaplasty.
It’s actually not the absolute-worst article in the world and contains some really good input from Dr Virginia Braun of the University of Auckland and George Christy Parker of Women’s Health Action Trust. They cover concepts like a lack of good sex education and understanding that our bodies are diverse and unique things.
The only person who’s actually saying labiaplasty is on the rise is Dr Murray Beagley. Who makes a living performing labiaplasty. He’s quick to talk about not being judgemental and not enforcing beauty standards … but then he turns around and says “of course if I wasn’t doing labiaplasty there’d be plenty of other surgeries I would be doing” – as though pretty much all of those aren’t part of the same set of beauty standards.
He also keeps slipping into body-judging phrasing, like when he talks about “whether we should prioritise [people] with protruding labia over [people] with pendulous breasts” – i.e. treating protruding labia and pendulous breasts as inherent problems to be solved.
As a person with pendulous breasts: go fuck yourself, Dr Beagley.
But the thing which most pisses me off, dear readers?
Headline of video: “Labiaplasty: creating the perfect vagina?”
Headline of article: “Vagina surgery on the rise in NZ”
Herald subeditors may find the following diagram helpful.
I mean, can anyone actually quantify the amount of irony involved in the Herald publishing a report which talks about a lack of information about what genitals look like without managing to work out that the labia ARE NOT THE SAME FUCKING THING as the vagina?
And why do I have the strangest feeling that an article about testicle-related surgery wouldn’t be headlined “Penis surgery on the rise”? Or that such an article would never be written in the first place?
This is a great post on some of the basic reasons that bra fitting is a feminist issue. It predominantly affects women, but not all women have breasts and not all people with breasts are women – and those people thus outside “the norm” have an even worse time of things!
I just want to take one teensy-tiny issue with this bit:
Unsupportive bras mean bouncing and ligament pain, which discourages women from physical activity, thereby keeping them less fit. Putting it like that makes it sound like a huge conspiracy, but
Let me stop you at “but”, friend. No, I’m not saying there literally is a smoke-filled room somewhere where former Skulls & Bones members twirl their moustaches with glee over blueprints for The Most Uncomfortable Bra Ever, slapping each other on the back and saying “they’ll never be able to jump rope in THIS!”
But let’s think about it this way. Capitalism requires a steady stream of workers. Workers have to be born and raised. Currently, a lot of the birthing and raising is done by people who are firmly identified as “women”.
(Just look at how much of the kerfuffle around marriage equality was that same-sex couples “can’t” make babies, or how men who choose to become pregnant are, well, [insert transphobic hatespeech here].)
That birthing-and-raising of productive little workers is unpaid work. It’s not even viewed as work. It’s considered completely demeaning for the non-birthing class (“men”) to perform it (though they will be lionized as heroes for making the “sacrifice” of taking time out to raise their own children).
Why the fuck would a group which makes up just over half of the population put up with this?
Enter bras. Enter beauty standards. Enter conflicting, YET VERY VERY IMPORTANT messages beamed into our brains daily about the “right” way to behave, to look. Enter a situation where skilled, educated people are walking around with Impostor Syndrome because it’s so ingrained to believe that they’re doing something wrong.
(Enter also rape culture, which reinforces the idea that you can never ever feel safe; enter antichoice rhetoric, which is one facet of a whole system dedicated to telling you you don’t really know your own mind and need others to make decisions for you; enter economic disadvantages which push you towards heterosexual cohabitation.
Enter a neverending roundabout of diet advice, childrearing advice, all underscored with the notion that if you’re doing it wrong – and believe me, you ARE doing it wrong – you are basically a completely worthless individual who’s letting the entire species down.)
To completely appropriate/paraphrase a wise thing I read somewhere, you can’t politicise people who are starving, because they’ve got more important things on their minds. Modern capitalism/patriarchy has worked to make sure that even when women aren’t starving, even when they’ve got huge amounts of privilege, their minds are on things which they’ve been convinced are more important. They’re getting depression and eating disorders … not rocking the boat.
Why do you think the good old chestnuts about hairy-legged lesbians have such currency? Because the people who refuse to shave their legs and enter heterosexual relationships and produce the next generation of good little productive workers are threatening the whole system.
It’s not a conspiracy of moustachioed men in a bunker. But what other word do we have for such a complex, deliberate system of coercing an entire population?
Michelle Bridges (you can see her on TV and buy her books!) has thoughts about disgusting fatties and how disgusting we are. Did I mention you can see her on TV and buy her books and she works in the
getting paid to tell people they are disgusting fitness industry? This obviously makes her a totally disinterested expert.
And kinda oblivious:
It’s as if no one takes our obesity epidemic seriously.
I want some of what she’s smoking. But let’s not write off Michelle Bridges as just another fat-hater, she’s a genius of marketing:
If a loved one is struggling with unhealthy lifestyle issues, lead by example and get your own exercise and nutrition habits in order first. Why? For the same reason an aircraft safety demo tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.
See? Lest anyone be reading her diatribe about the horrors of junk food and the tsunami (tasteful word choice) of obeeeeeeesity that’s heading our way and thinking “Damn straight! Fatties are gross, I’m so much better than them!” she lets you all know that you, too, should be
buying her book and also watching her on TV “getting healthy”.
The beautiful irony is that she’s a “trainer” on The Biggest Loser, a show which is so much about health and lifestyle change that it lies about the amount of time between weigh-ins, carefully avoids banning contestants from adopting seriously damaging dietary habits(*pointed look*), and would really like it if previous contestants could shut up about how it doesn’t actually work already.* (Unless of course you believe everyone should spend their entire lives worrying about the calories in egg whites and
giving the industry more money going to the gym on a daily basis.)
But the real bad guy here is Stuff, for once again presenting advertising as though it’s journalism. And I wonder why I read blogs to get all my news …
*Even a blog called, literally, Burn The Fat Blog is against ya, Michelle.