Sensationalising the Female Pudenda: An Examination of Public Communication of Aesthetic Genital Surgery

  •  Ashong Ashong    
  •  Herbert Batta    


We live in a society where beauty and sensations are important. Advances in medical technologies have brought on waves of new notions of beauty where commercial interests both in the media and the health industry spurred by fashion, advertising and celebrity promotion have tended to popularise body modifications and enhancements. In recent times, through offerings on cable television channels and glossy consumer magazines, medical procedures hitherto only in the precincts of medical schools, gyneacological clinics and medical journals have now pervaded the population. More seriously, on the Internet particularly, medical experts now offer services and graphic details of labiaplasty, clitoral hood reduction or enhancement, vaginal rejuvenation, etc. Here, we examine the public communication of the phenomenon of aesthetic genital surgery and interrogate thus; is it decent, honest, balanced and ethical? Relying on textual analysis, personal observation and literature review for data gathering, we observe that besides tending to commercialise and medicalise the female genitalia, a coalescence of medical, advertising and fashion interests as played out in the media sensationalises the benign science of plastic surgery and robs it of its truthfulness, genuineness, and purposefulness. The conclusion is that in Africa, where the effect of the development crises is telling, the hype surrounding cosmetic or aesthetic genital surgery is a damaging distraction particularly when the continent is waging a battle against female genital mutilation. The recommendations are that media and medical regulatory bodies should impress it upon media and medical industry operators that glaring commercial promotions of cosmetic genital surgery in the public media be checked, and that such communication should bear equal weight of facts related to risks, short comings, complications, and threats; in physical, social, and psychological terms.

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