Why designer vaginas do not empower women
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Women's demand for plastic surgery for improving the appearance of their genitals in Brazil has risen by 80% in recent years. Plastic surgeons have seen increasing requests for labiaplasty that slims or plumps the labia. According to the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (SAPS), Brazil had the highest demand for the surgery in the world, with 23,155 of the procedures in 2016 in comparison to the United States with 13,266 procedures despite having 55% more people. Labiaplasty developed in the 1970s for removing excess tissue that caused pain but has since improved and developed with the purpose of perfecting genitals. It has grown in popularity with celebrities such as US reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, who along with the other Kardashians are famous for the plastic procedures they have undergone. However, the demand for genital surgery in Brazil is more than a result of influential celebrities. Brazil is known for its obsession with perfect female bodies, and the growing demand for surgery reflects the influence of pornography for women regarding their appearance. The debate comes as to whether it is a form of female empowerment or appreciation completely on appearance. Empowerment, in this case, maybe sceptical when it is only coming through a woman's appearance as it suggests what aspect of themselves are valued the most. Lina Triana, a Colombian Plastic Surgeon who has performed the procedure believes that it is a source of empowerment, stating that "Latin women live in a macho culture: he is the one who rules in the office, in the home, in the sex life. Now as women... we are leading at home and in jobs and we want to lead in our sex lives." She emphasised the attitude of importance for the procedure with "Even in a bad economy, this is something that we need." The Brazillian economy has worsened with it shrinking more than 7 percent in 2016, the worst downturn in a generation.
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