Teens Are Getting 'Vaginal Rejuvenation' Surgery -- but No Mom Should Allow That

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Teenage girls wanting to take drastic measures to alter their appearances is nothing new, but the latest trend in exploiting adolescent insecurities has nothing to do with nose jobs or lip injections: Getting a labiaplasty (otherwise known as a "vaginal rejuvenation") is apparently an increasingly popular cosmetic surgery choice among teens, with so many girls seeking the procedure last year that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) just issued guidelines urging doctors to think twice before agreeing to the procedure.

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Let's just pause to take that in.

It's no surprise that experts would be recommending caution regarding vaginal cosmetic surgery for teens; what is a surprise, however, is that teens would want vaginal cosmetic surgery in the first place. (Even Dr. Julie Strickland, the chairwoman of ACOG's committee on adolescent health care, admits that physicians are "sort of baffled," as she told the New York Times.)

Apparently, in some cases these procedures are actually for medical reasons, such as to "relieve discomfort," but most of the time girls want the surgery because they're unhappy with the way their vulvas look.

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Okay, but what?! To be perfectly honest, I bristle at the idea of labiaplasty being "necessary" for any woman, because, hello? We're all beautiful and sexy no matter what shape our lady parts are in. That said, if you're a grown woman, you do you, I guess -- but if you're a teenage girl?

It's just sad that already these young women have so much deep shame and dissatisfaction surrounding their sexuality that they feel the need for an operation to trim away an "unsightly" part of their bodies.

How are they even so sure what their vulvas are "supposed" to look like? Are they basing their self-judgments on all that Internet porn they're watching (or, perhaps more likely, that their boyfriends are watching)? Because if that's the case, somebody (HOW ABOUT THEIR PARENTS?!) needs to tell them that surgically enhancing one's self to meet a standard of beauty set by porn stars is definitely not the way to kick off your young adult years. 

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Now, getting back to those parents: As the mother of a teen girl, I have a very, very hard time understanding why any parent would agree to their daughter having this surgery. I mean, I can't even begin to imagine what that conversation would sound like. Honestly, I have no idea how I'd respond if my daughter came to me asking for a labiaplasty (only that I'd need several glasses of wine to calm down afterward).

Maybe I'd double down on my efforts to make her understand her own power as a woman. Maybe I'd point her toward a body-positive website like the Large Labia Project, which provides "support for those who feel insecure, self-conscious, victimised or vilified about their labia." Maybe I'd resort to relatable pop culture anecdotes to plead my case ("Even Khloe Kardashian has camel toe and hey, she rocks it!"). 

But even if I'm not sure what I would do, one thing I'm sure I wouldn't do is say YES. It's our job as parents to help our daughters to learn self-acceptance and to develop true confidence that comes from within, not the kind of fake confidence that comes from thousands of dollars worth of unnecessary plastic surgery.

Not to mention that there are potential complications associated with every type of surgery, and many of them are serious! Girls need to know that this is not something worth risking their health over -- and that any guy who objects over the appearance of her vulva deserves literally no place in her life, ever. Like, EVER.

 

Image via iStock.com/xmee

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