Unsealed: The Barbie Doll Look

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The Barbie Doll Look, From Top to Bottom

In the UK, public outrage sparked as a BBC investigative documentary revealed that girls as young as nine years were receiving cosmetic surgery for their genitals. Between 2015 and 2016, 150 girls under the age of 15 received a labiaplasty through the UK National Health Scheme in implying that further surgeries might have been conducted through the private sector. I would like to believe that a large proportion of underage surgeries were performed for medical reasons, but I can’t find any solid evidence either side.

When it comes to plastic surgery, itís difficult to untangle the facts from the conservative propaganda. This seems to be doubly true when it comes to plastic surgery concerning genitals in what looked to be a very well-written and informative article I read early on in my research turned out to be written by Bettina Arndt. So, like, go figure.

While Australia holds stronger regulations on the minimum age for cosmetic surgery, labiaplasty remains one of the fastest growing plastic surgeries in the Western world. Medicare reports reveal that the number of labiaplasties have doubled over the last ten years and again, not including surgeries which are funded privately. With little information available on the long-term effects of vulval cosmetic surgery, the volume of women flocking to surgeons does seem pretty alarming.

It’s obvious that pre-conceived ideas of what our genitals are supposed to look like is having an impact here. In the plethora of opinion articles I’ve stumbled across in my research, most people seem to be blaming a combination of porn and Brazilian waxing. Women are being exposed to one type of vulva over and over again, and (once their own is exposed through hair removal) are realising that theirs isn’t the same. While this is certainly part of it, I feel like we need to really evaluate the way weíre originally taught about and exposed to our bodies.

When we look at biology textbooks and sexual health education, the same image of a vulva is replicated. A neat, tucked look in the Barbie Doll vulva. And when we combine this lack of diversity with a sexually conservative society in one in which children are routinely discouraged from learning about, looking at or understanding their own body parts and it’s no wonder that people are becoming insecure about how their Parts look.

Before I started hooking up with girls, I barely knew that there were people whose vulva didn’t look like mine. Think about the impact this has on people. We know what it means to grow up with the shame of being different. We know what #representation means to those who exist outside the box. So it’s unsurprising that the increasing popularity of genital cosmetic surgery is not the only thing we need to worry about as a result of this blaring gap in our sex education.

When we limit ourselves to a narrow representation of normal and healthy, like our conception of the Barbie Doll Look, we trick people into believing that their bodies are abnormal, and unhealthy. Research has proven that young people are avoiding sexual health testing due to embarrassment and insecurity about their genitals.  The Barbie Doll Look is the reason that ‘corrective’ surgery is performed on intersex children, or children with ‘atypical’ genitals. This surgery can include sterilisation, and is a process that is not only normalised, but is funded by Medicare.

Further, our understanding of the function of a vagina to remain ‘tight’ for the sexual pleasure of men has some seriously adverse impacts. Older women are increasingly self-conscious about the elasticity of their vaginas, and we’re seeing the rate of vaginoplasties (a ‘tightening’ surgery) climbing. And, in our current context, we can expect exploitative marketing to outweigh the risks these procedures.

We need to be advocating for a better understanding of the diversity that exists in genital appearance and function. Let’s do better, and teach our young people what normal, healthy, diverse bodies look like.

Y’all can sit down with your outrage because I’m NOT suggesting we show explicit images to young children. What I am saying is that high school sexual health education programs should encompass an awareness that all bodies are different, and that all genitals come in all shapes and sizes.

We’ll discuss introducing comprehensive sexual health to kindergartners (like they’ve successfully done in Scandinavian countries) another day. Baby steps, readers.

Until then, Stay #Unsealed xx

CON-FESS UP

I lost my virginity to a 30 year old turkish man who lived in glebe. i was 18. we shared a joint and had mangoes. He even gave me a lift to the station when i had to leave. great guy, filthy apartment.
– Anonymous

I accidentally confessed to having HPV in a job interview.
– Anonymous

The only sex dream I’ve ever had was one where this random girl from my class shoved like a whole two foot jelly dildo up my ass. It was amazing. I couldn’t speak to her for like three weeks.
– Anonymous

During my first blowjob i vomited all over my bf’s crotch. he tried to make me deepthroat and mama didn’t raise no quitter. Unfortunately, She did raise a gal with a sensitive gag reflex. Never again.
– Anonymous

SEND YOUR SEXY, SASSY OR SAUCY CONFESSIONS TO GRAPESHOTUNSEALED.TUMBLR.COM

QUESTION TIME

How do I prevent vaginal chafing after sex? – Sick of Being Sore

Well hey there, Sick! We got two options – and weíre gonna go ahead and take both, because theyíre equally important.

Lube, lube, lube*. Itís super common for people to need a bit of assistance in the wetness department. I want you to get all up in that with some water-based lube not once, not twice, but as many times as you need! One of the most common causes of chafing is friction pure and simple. Unlubricated skin to skin contact can cause tiny tears in your skin, making it sting after sex.

*WATER BASED, FLAVOURLESS and UNSCENTED, that has NO GLYCERIN in it. You will thank me. Seriously people, that $30 Honey Birdette caramel stuff might smell good, but your pussy wonít when you have a yeast infection 2 days later.

See Your GP. Since there are seriously a whole bunch of reasons you could be getting chafing, itís statistically possible that there might be a medical reason for yours. RELAX. BREATHE. For example, there are non-contagious skin conditions that only affect your genitals (this can be easily fixed with a cream!). But it COULD also be an infection. Health is important, and as much as I donít want to freak you out, I do want you to take your health seriously. If youíre not comfortable showing your current GP your Privates, get a new GP. Google medical centres that are close to you – there is way more than you think there are!

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