"Labiaplasty" a very sad story

For the first time I saw labia dangling down from the vulva like tagliatelle pasta, maybe 5cm long.

Rowena Sheehan
Nip and Tuck
‘Vulvas’ by Rowena Sheehan

efore we get to the comic, I first want to talk about its inception. It was 2017 and I was at a friend’s house party—it was his 27th birthday. I didn’t know many people there, but I managed to befriend another socially awkward attendee. At some point in the night the new friend, the birthday boy and I hid ourselves away in a room and took a break from the party.

We started looking at vaginas on Tumblr. (And by vaginas, I mean vulvas).

The two of them had found a page dedicated to “large” labia—the lips or “flaps” found on the external part of the genital area.

It wasn’t something I’d investigated before and yes, as they perused the photos, I was shocked.

For the first time I saw labia dangling down from the vulva like tagliatelle pasta, maybe 5cm long. The two friends were screaming in drunken hysterics over these photos while I was silent and curious. I’d no idea labia could get that long.

But that’s not what struck me most in those 15 minutes of image browsing, it was my friends’ disgust over the vulvas that popped up that I thought looked perfectly normal.

I’d been aware of labiaplasty for a number of years. I first encountered it in a documentary about Americans slicing at their vulvas for a more aesthetically pleasing look. The cameras showed the bits of lips that had been surgically removed and those bits were tiny!

It seemed extreme, unnecessary, and I came to identify labiaplasty as something absurd: a procedure to edit the appearance of the body to satisfy some arbitrary ideal about the shape labia should take.

So there I was, astounded by two normal people’s open disdain for large labia. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The comic that followed this was originally created in 2017 as a small sketch. I have recently re-visited it and… dare I say it… “prettified” it. Oh the irony.

P.S. I’m aware that some labiaplasty procedures are to help rid a person of pain from the excess skin.

P.P.S. I’m also aware that the comic uses the word “vagina” where it should, in an anatomical world, say “vulva” or “labia”. Since, on a cultural level, the word vagina is often used to mean the whole “downstairs area” I’ve chosen to use the word. I’ve included a little diagram underneath the comic to give some clarity on the area for those unsure.

Thanks for reading. And here’s the promised diagram.


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