I have nothing against plastic surgery itself as an idea, it can work miracles like coverings up scars from horrible accidents and give people confidence. However, surgeries on areas such as the breasts, penis and vagina can have strings attached.
Today, I watched two short documentaries on plastic surgery. Both taking place in the United Kingdom, the first was called My Penis and Everyone Else’s, a follow-up to a man* who had come to terms with his 3.5-inch erect penis and wanted to start a conversation about penis diversity, but found it is largely taboo amongst his peers. The second one, similar in nature, was called The Perfect Vagina, where a mother of two young girls seeks the truth about what drives the ever-increasing demand for labiaplasty surgeries.
In My Penis and Everyone Else’s, the narrator finds the best way to start the narrative on penis diversity is through an art show, where he requested people send in photos of their flaccid penises anonymously to display. The show attracted a large number of people who would not only openly talk about their penises here, but wanted to have theirs on display, as well.
In The Perfect Vagina, the narrator tries to find out what kind of women are getting labiaplasties and why. Much to her surprise, it’s a lot of young girls who are afraid of judgement. In the film, the narrator visits artist Jamie McCartney in Brighton (of course), who has made “The Great Wall of Vagina” using plaster molds from vaginas of more than 400 women. A lot like the piece in My Penis and Everyone Else’s, this piece celebrates the fact that genitalia come in all shapes, sizes and colors. She seeks to help prospective patients for the surgery with alternative methods such as sexual therapy where they learn to accept their vaginas as they are.
Both narrators explore the reasons why people are so insecure about their genitalia. The main reason is the large taboo the subject imposes on society and the fact that the only place young people see others’ genitalia is pornography. Just like porn sex is not real sex, porn stars genitalia are not real genitalia; the actors are hand-selected to conform to the most extreme of ideas of modern, conventional attractiveness. Because of the images force fed to us by pornography, many people have a very narrow idea of what genitalia should look like.
Society standards have pushed for a certain idea of beauty, which drives a lot of cosmetic surgeries, but what about people that want it for themselves? Can they ever truly just want it for themselves, or will society always have some influence, even if it’s subliminal?
While, ultimately, plastic surgery in areas like the penis and vagina is a personal choice that I neither denounce nor encourage, we have to reevaluate our sex education system to include a conversation about genitalia diversity and begin from a young age so we know that if someone were to want this kind of procedure in the future, may it might truly be for themselves. We all know that bodies come in all different forms because we can see it on the surface, why should all genitalia be the same? Let’s celebrate our differences.
I post these both to get my opinion out there and hear from you, so if you have any opinion on the matter, I would love to hear!
*Although I use gendered language in this article for simplicity sake, I understand there are more than two genders and acknowledge there are transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, intersex people as well as those who have yet to make up their minds.