New review: The Perfect Vagina

// 13 September 2008


Cutting away at your labia sounds extreme, but more and more women are going under the surgeon’s knife. Amy Clare reports on a Channel 4 documentary which attempted to shine a light on why this is happening

Television is not exactly woman’s best friend. It bombards us with sexist advertising (when will dad ever go to Iceland, I wonder?); it harangues us with the likes of Loose Women and the hateful, self esteem destroying 10 Years Younger while offering us few non-stereotypical female role models to compensate. As a feminist, I am frankly sick and tired of television. But when I saw the trailer for The Perfect Vagina, broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday 17 August, I actually got a little bit excited. Here was a documentary seemingly set to address an issue feminists have been shouting about for decades: that there is something pathologically wrong with a world in which women fear and hate that most female part of their bodies, their vaginas. As it turned out, this programme was a baby step in the right direction, but one which only partly fulfilled its subversive potential.

Fronted by Lisa Rogers, this part of Channel 4’s ‘G-Spot’ series focused on the rise in vaginal cosmetic surgery, specifically labiaplasty. For the uninitiated, labiaplasty involves cutting off the inner labia so that they don’t ‘hang’ below the outer labia. Ouch, ouch and thrice ouch. The labiaplasty business has skyrocketed over the past few years, and Lisa’s mission was to find out why so many women hate the appearance of their vulvas to the point that they’d willingly have pieces of them surgically removed.

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