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Huff over muffs.


Feminists in London, U.K., recently held a Muff March to protest the rising popularity of cosmetic surgeries aimed to give them "designer vaginas." Organized by the women's rights group UK Feminista, marchers carried signs that read, "Keep your mitts off our muffs" and "There's nothing finer than my vagina!"

More than 100 demonstrators protested on Harley Street, the area known for its cosmetic surgery offices. The event ended with a "muff dance" in which protesters, including performance artists, sported decorative and rainbow-coloured pubic wigs, known as merkins.

U.K. Feminista director Kat Banyard said the purpose of the march was to thwart the rise of cosmetic surgeries like labiaplasties [which decrease the size of the labia by cutting away part of it) as well as to protest a pornified beauty standard that pressures women to shave, tighten and trim their genitals.

The pressure stems from the mainstreaming of the pornography industry, in which female actors commonly remove all of their pubic hair. "The industry is preferring its performers to look more like prepubescent girls," says Banyard. "It's time to fight back."

According to Muff March organizers, the U.K. cosmetic surgery firm Harley Medical Group received over 5,000 cosmetic gynecology inquiries. Sixty-five percent of the queries were for labial reduction, while the rest involved vaginal tightening and reshaping. According to an article in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, procedures like labiaplasty can damage nerve endings, leading to impaired sexual function.

The Atlantic Monthly recently published an article that highlighted a growing trend for a procedure called the Barbie, in which the entire labia minora are cut off. Other procedures include tightening the vagina opening and a surgical procedure that reattaches the hymen.

Meanwhile, a march protesting the designer vulva trend was held in Kitchener, Ontario, last winter. Led by students from a sexuality, marriage and family program, protesters marched in front of Kitchener City Hall to challenge the increase in genital cosmetic surgery performed on women in Canada.

Toni Serafini, associate professor of psychology and sexuality, marriage and family at St. Jerome's University, one of the University of Waterloo's colleges, believes women can be shamed into having their labia altered if they don't know what normal labia look like. Young girls, she says, unlike boys, don't see the genitalia of other females often, so they may not understand that every woman's genitals look different. Serafini says if all teens see are airbrushed or surgically or cosmetically altered porn actors' genitalia, they may come to believe their own vulvas are abnormal.

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Title Annotation:nellie grams; feminists demonstration over cosmetic surgery
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 22, 2012
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