I first heard the word “labiaplasty” three years ago. Immediately, my interest was piqued. My unruly butterfly wings — otherwise known as my labia — interfered with my sexual activities. Riding a bike for more than 15 minutes? Painful. Camel toe? Obvious. Intercourse? Lube did little to relieve all that smooshing, pulling, stretching, especially when condoms were involved.
And then there were the unsolicited anatomical editorials that I’d received over the years, ranging from the respectfully observant, “You’re very floral,” to the horrifying, “Damn, girl. You got a fat p***y!,” to the complimentary, “Actually, I like it full and lippy … That’s my thing.”
For the past five Halloweens, I’ve expressed my so-called secret shame by donning a head-to-toe vagina costume.
My methodology might be lost on some, but I’ve found it healing. Everyone else on the street has found it riotous. For me, it’s a comment on the overplayed, sexy girl Halloween get-up. My real scarlet letter was known only to my boudoir buddies.
Last year, a nice, drunk, young Captain Kirk barreled towards me, grabbed my four-foot, fire-resistant labia majora, and gestured in what I presumed to be the internationally recognized hand symbol for “nice vagina.” Then, he assessed my ensemble: “Nice and clean, not too much junk going on here … Me likey!” I, ten years older than this little creep, I, who had behaved unflappably for so long during intimate moments, I, who has never made a small-penis joke around any man — I shrank. How was I ever going to embrace the full potential of my womanhood whilst dragging around all this extra flesh? Labia begone!
I did vacillate. Previously, I’d disparaged elective plastic surgery. It was for rich bitches, I thought. Now, it doesn’t seem so different from tattoos or piercings.
It was easily the most ignoble, selfish decision I’d ever made. And none of my others were so expensive. The world won’t be a better, just, more peaceful place because I went under for a new punani. Why didn’t I donate $5,000 to an organization devoted to obliterating forced female circumcision? Professionally, I work with suffering people all day long. I wanted to be one of the pretty girls.
After two consultations, I chose the less expensive doctor. She was board-certified and an instructor at a medical school who performed humanitarian surgical work on children in the Middle East. (My father is of Middle Eastern descent.) Plus, she packaged the clitoral hood reduction into her basic surgery fee, and the other guy didn’t. So, one week before my 38th birthday, I underwent a snip-snip.
What followed was a world of no fun. I violently vomited up the apple juice and biscuits they fed me at the hospital. Although I was able to return to work within two days (I was advised to take a week off), I was a swollen, achy, stitched-up, limping Franken-vagina who urinated like a spastic lawn sprinkler. Ice packs, blood-loss, dabbing-not-wiping, three weeks of inactivity, menstrual pads, and ten pairs of Bacitracin-stained underwear were followed by a seemingly interminable period of hypersensitivity.
Worst of all, I was expecting to resume sexual activity in four to six weeks. Yet, at week seven, I was forced to explain to a potential new lover why we couldn’t go to third base. The clitoral hood reduction took forever to heal. His witty response unwittingly further justified my decision: “So, you’ve had your roast beef removed …”
Finally, four months later, I got the payoff. It was the sensation of space between my body and my clothing. There was no more surreptitious dislodging of my jeans from my hoo-ha. Biking for longer distances doesn’t hurt, like it once did.
But the most unexpected feeling was that of a virtual revirginization. Who, I wondered, would become my new first with my new anatomy?
Rather than explain my vagina’s unique history to a new partner, I called upon a trusted longtime paramour. It took a few attempts. Had I make a mistake? Would I ever get back in the saddle?
I’m happy to report that I got my happy ending. Sex is definitely better. No pulling, no stretching, no smooshing. Looking at myself, I’d dare to say now I’m a pretty girl down there.