We've been crunching the results from our Love Your Lips survey and it makes for pretty interesting reading.
17% OF THE FEMALE PARTICIPANTS SAID THEY HAD CONSIDERED OR WOULD CONSIDER GETTING SURGERY TO SHORTEN OR SHAPE THEIR LABIA.
In short, more than 1 in 6 women have felt so insecure about their vulvae that they were willing to go under the knife. Risks of labiaplasty can include scarring, bleeding and infections. There is also a risk that the surgery will cause increased or decreased sensitivity or pain during sex. You might feel less self-conscious, but that's not much use if it's harder to enjoy yourself.
The rise in labiaplasty, first recorded as a purely aesthetic procedure in 1984, partly corresponds with the rise of the internet and accessible porn. Mainstream porn can promote very specific aesthetics and is something people are increasingly exposed to from a young age. However, unrealistic depictions of the female body are not unique to porn.
Everywhere women look, they are bombarded with photoshopped images and no area of the body is exempt from scrutiny. With that in mind, it's not surprising that so many women feel insecure about how they look.
23% FELT JUDGED OR WERE CONCERNED ABOUT BEING JUDGED BY A PARTNER ON THE APPEARANCE OF THEIR LABIA.
This might also help to explain why so many women were willing to consider surgery. We have to consider where this feeling of judgement is coming from.
Interestingly, only 12.5% of lesbian-identifying women felt judged or worried about their labia compared with 20% of straight women and a worrying 30% of bisexual women. Bisexual women were also the most likely to have considered surgery.
We're really interested in why that might be. It seems like judgement, or the fear of judgement might be more common in women with male sex partners. This might be because women with male partners have seen a less diverse range of vulvae or because women feel men are more likely to be comparing them to porn.
STRAIGHT-IDENTIFYING WOMEN WERE THE LEAST LIKELY TO LOVE THEIR LIPS (43%).
Bisexual women were the most likely (54%) to love theirs, so it seems like taking some time to appreciate the beauty of all vulvae is good for your body image.
We think it's important for more women to see more images of real vulvae - it's an education. Labiaplasty is becoming increasingly common among very young women. We'd like to see more efforts to let young people know that vulvae and vaginas come in all shapes and sizes and are all beautiful.