In some disturbing news, more teenage girls are reportedly getting labiaplasty — a.k.a. plastic surgery that reshapes or resizes your lady bits — because they think their vaginas are ugly. How did we let it come to this?
According to a report from BBC News earlier this month, gynecologists in the U.K. are noticing a disturbing trend: teenagers and even girls as young as nine-years-old are seeking the procedure from their doctors.
“Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, ‘I just hate it, I just want it removed,’” Naomi Crouch, M.D., chair of the British Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, said in an interview with the BBC. “For a girl to feel that way about any part of her body — especially a part that’s intimate — is very upsetting.”
The concerning trend is happening here at home, too. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, labiaplasty is on the rise in the U.S. In 2016, there were over 12,000 procedures performed (up 39 percent from 2015). And just over five percent of those procedures were done on girls under the age of 16, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That’s over 500 girls who were so unhappy with their vaginas they sought surgical intervention.
At Allure, we’re no strangers to conversations about aesthetics, insecurities, and how thanks to social media and our constant culture of comparison, there always seems to be some new aspect of your appearance to put under the microscope. And the world of beauty has definitely made inroads below the belt — some of them empowering (like embracing the bush) and some a little more concerning (like people stuffing glitter up their lady bits).
Frankly, the anxiety this creates is a lot of BS. But that doesn’t change the fact that women, and especially young girls, are faced with a ton of pressure.
According to the BBC, experts think this particular brand of scary insecurity may be coming from the increasing accessibility of porn. “Their perception is that the inner lips should be invisible, almost like a Barbie,” Paquita de Zulueta, M.D., told the BBC. “The reality is that there is a huge variation. It’s very normal for the lips to protrude.”
So you hear that, youngns? Labias are normal. Human vaginas are normal. Barbie vaginas — not normal.
This article originally appeared in Allure