a NURSE friend recently suggested I write about the epidemic of "young girls having boob jobs".
Sure enough, a decade after Dow Corning went bankrupt through billions of dollars worth of lawsuits from women who claimed silicone breast implants made them sick, boob jobs are back in fashion.
Perhaps inspired by the curvy stars of Mad Men, breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries for young women, with Medicare claims reportedly up more than 50 per cent since 2005.
Yet, when I visited a private hospital in an affluent Sydney suburb recently, nurses there told me the real story was not breast enlargements but surgery being undertaken by young women to reshape their outer genitals. It is the fad of the "designer vagina".
They were privately horrified at the insecurity that drives women to have perfectly healthy genitalia cut and stitched into a shape that conforms to an unrealistic image presented in airbrushed pornography. They told of women as young as 19 who claimed they needed surgery to look good in tight bike pants.
One young woman came in with her boyfriend who told her he didn’t like "brown bits" where he thought "pink bits" should be. but the women and their boyfriends – and even some of their doctors – don’t know what "normal" genitals are supposed to look like. all they know is the porn fantasy.
"There is this perception that people’s genitalia are somehow abnormal because they don’t fit some imagined idea of normal which they get from a porn movie or magazine," says Dr Ted Weaver, of the Royal Australian new Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. the college has called for the practice of airbrushing genitalia in pornography to be banned because it causes terrible misconceptions about what the human body looks like.
And often when women complain to their GPs about irritation, itchiness and rashes it is caused by ingrown hairs and other side effects of the popular procedure of ripping out pubic hair every six weeks.
But labioplasty surgery to slice off the outer genitals – or "resculpting", as plastic surgeons prefer to call it – is a booming business, increasing by 500 per cent between 2002 and 2009, Weaver says.
Medicare payments for the procedures have more than doubled in the past decade to about 1200, costing the taxpayer at least $4000 a pop.
But women have to convince GPs there is a medical reason for the procedure to qualify for Medicare, so the actual figures are larger. Plastic surgeons are reporting a doubling every year in the number of women asking for genital surgery.
Genital "resculpting" has been ringing alarm bells in medical circles for some time. In July, Sydney gynaecologist Dr Rebecca Deans joined British colleagues to write a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia asking: "why are women referred for female genital cosmetic surgery?"
The average age of British women undergoing the procedures was 25. almost three quarters wanted surgery because of "embarrassment" about genital appearance, mentioning "disparaging comments by previous sexual partners", "harassment by other girls at school" or "concerns being flagged by the girls’ mothers".
What’s more, surgery rarely satisfied the woman, "with up to 80 per cent requiring further reconstructive surgery", according to one of Deans’ co-authors in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Melinda Tankard Reist’s new book Big Porn inc addresses the pressure the pornography industry puts on young women to provide boyfriends with the PSE (porn star experience).
"why are doctors cashing in on the body angst of 19-year-old kids?" she says.
The ubiquity of porn has brought us to the terrifying point where teenage boys find the bodies of real women distasteful. One survey of 400 teenagers, aged 14 to 17, by Britain’s Channel Four found their views of sex were influenced by pornography, with average consumption at 90 minutes a week. And it’s not the Playboy magazine soft porn of their parents’ generation, but "bestiality, group sex and lesbian intercourse".
When shown images of 10 breasts, boys at one high school in Norfolk found most attractive those that had been "surgically enhanced", the Guardian newspaper reports. And some regarded images of female genitalia covered with pubic hair disgusting.
So young women are mutilating their most intimate body parts to satisfy a false pornographic ideal. Female self-hatred is the final tragic manifestation of our sex-saturated culture.
<a href="http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/girls-check-in-for-genital-mutilation/story-e6frezz0-1226149726288tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/girls-check-in-for-genital-mutilation/story-e6frezz0-1226149726288Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:14:26 GMT 00:00″>Girls check in for genital mutilation