Monday, September 5, 2011

Pandora's Box

I was sitting in a hotel lobby, resting uncomfortably, when my eyes fell on a discarded newspaper. The article in view discussed the increasing popularity of surgical techniques aimed at “labia beautification.” You read that right. Labia beautification. Labiaplasty if you’re nasty.

These procedures were previously unknown to me, mainly because the caliber of woman I pull has no need for such improvements.

How did we reach a point where lacking labias became enough of an issue to spawn a labia-makeover racket? Excuse me while I put on my detective hat:

Before shaving/waxing became widespread, most women, and certainly most men, were unaware of how the female nether regions were supposed to look. I doubt even the randiest salon discussions delved into much detail. Then shaving became the norm for female porn stars, causing men to expect well-trimmed women, causing many women to start shaving; leaving them more exposed and more likely to evaluate themselves more closely; causing them to start fretting about the appearance of their naughty bits.

Say goodbye to sex-positivism and hello to gyno-irony! Turns out something designed to make you feel sexier can also give you something new to feel self-conscious about.

So-called repression is not necessarily a patriarchal-Christian-bourgeois-capitalist conspiracy to keep everyone unfulfilled. In fact, “repression” sometimes saves us from ourselves. No one ever achieves fulfillment or completion or contentment. They’re just carrots we dangle in front of ourselves; words to describe the unattainable state we’re all chasing. So the more things we leave unrepressed and out in the open, the more things there are for us to feel unfulfilled about. I doubt labia aesthetics were a major concern in the bad old days of repression. Now there are people paying shrinks and plastic surgeons thousands to help them with their labia dysmorphia (if that isn’t already a widely used term, it will be soon).

Given current trends, I see no reason why this should change. Repression doesn’t seem positioned to remerge, and better technology and smaller families (childbirth now exists mainly to provide edible afterbirth to drooling foodies) means Western women have more free time than ever to scrutinize every inch of themselves. Soon fallopian beautification will be just an app away.

A little bit of repression can go a long way. Just as some stones are best left unturned, perhaps some hairs are best left unplucked.



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