I am both a very visual and very sexual person. Consequently, I enjoy watching porn on occasion. Let’s face it, porn is visually stimulating, erotic, and allows a person to expand their fantasy life. But I am conscious of the importance of balance in using these images for our health and well-being.
We already know that viewing porn on a regular basis changes our ideas of what we consider attractive. We adjust our view of what we consider acceptable or desirable to match what is put out there by the media – in this case, porn. We also tend to place value in the images we see when they are reinforced by being presented as exciting, desirable, and sexy. This is accomplished by the immediately aroused response seen in porn actors. I’m not saying that some of them are not enjoying their work, but at the end of the day, they are actors playing a fictional role.
It’s interesting to see how porn is shaping the view of what we consider attractive or sexy. First, let’s consider breasts. If you look at a comparison of Playboy centerfolds from the 1960’s to now, you see a large difference not only in size, but in the shape of breasts as well. Whereas years ago it was very common to see teardrop-shaped breasts, nowadays, breasts are usually very round and seem to defy gravity. It’s obvious that very round breasts look more like a pregnant woman’s breast – full of milk and ready to lactate. But they also may be an indicator of sexual excitement, since breasts can increase in volume from 25 – 30% when a woman gets aroused. It also seems that surgically enhanced breasts take more of the shape that natural breasts do when a woman is laying on her back – not an uncommon position for sex. Certainly, there are some beautiful surgically enhanced breasts out there. But our society’s expectation of these as the standard is what seems dangerous. In some South American countries women can even have their government-sponsored health care pay for elective breasts implants (not related to mastectomy or an accident). This is how important it has become in our culture.
If we continue our travels a little southwards (on the female figure), we notice there have been major changes in the landscaping. Where there used to be anywhere from a full bush to a neatly trimmed little patch, now it’s much more common to find the absence of bush altogether. This works very well for porn if you don’t want anything obstructing your camera shot. It probably makes clean up after the money shot a bit easier as well. But pubic hair has always been one of the physical characteristics that distinguishes women from girls. So where is society going with this? How did completely shaved become the norm?
Perhaps the most disturbing trend, however, is the desire for some women to “beautify” their labia by surgical reduction. Could porn also be promoting labiaplasty? This procedure involves removing a triangle-shaped wedge from the middle of the labia, then pulling the rest together and suturing it up. (Imagine a pie slice coming out from the middle of a half-circle). This creates smaller, tighter labia. And since the edges of the labia minora are usually darker than the rest, the removal of a large part of this edge results in the appearance of lighter-colored labia. In order to create a uniform, more natural look, surgeons will often also remove part of the clitoral hood when performing a labiaplasty. The surgeons who perform labiaplasty suggest that women who have large or uneven labia should feel embarrassed with a sexual partner and that the surgery would correct this. Perhaps an understanding of what genitals actually look like would correct this without the risk of side effects from surgery. If women are comparing themselves to women they see in porn movies and skin mags, they are not getting a real view of what average and normal are. Instead, I hear of 16 year-old girls already thinking that they are “not normal” and need to “get fixed” because they think their labia are too big.
My question is how far are we going to go? Is it porn driving this distorted view of women’s bodies that society seems to be adopting? How are “Hollywood” plastic surgeons contributing to this by referring to their procedures as “the Barbie” (disturbing). We are not far from that plasticine figure that has exaggerated proportions and shape, and most notably has the absence of pubic hair or defined genitals. How distorted will we allow our vision of natural and beautiful to become?
Alas we "real life" women are destined to compete, however unfairly, with the perfect, perky porn gals. So Dr. C…any suggestions for the gracefully aging wife who does not match up to the polished and tampered-with bodies of most porn and fashion mag gals? While I bravely slap on a decent smile and try to think sexy thoughts, hubby is busy with the hot tamale on screen! Can men ever find a soft, slightly-worn post-pubescent woman sexy and desirable? And lucky me…my labia survived 2 kids quite nicely if I do say so myself. Maybe I just have to trust my attitude of being sexy "in my head" and permit that to register to my partner(s).
Sexiness definitely starts in your head – your thoughts, your desires, your confidence, your enjoyment of your own pleasure. While some of the old standards like low lighting, or wearing some lingerie that supports you in just the right way can be helpful – my question is why not watch what's on the screen with him? Perhaps both of you can enjoy it together and take it to a new level? Make that the background onto which you paint a new picture.
Hi Dr C
Thanks for your comment and for referring me to your great post! I hadn’t pulled all the pieces together nearly as well as you. If these people are allowed to continue unchecked, heaven knows what are granddaughters will do to themselves in the interests of trying to achieve what is perceived as a ‘normal’ body. It’s a very frightening prospect.
Having been an anorexic and hated my body for so many years, to have the love of a man who truly adores my ancient bones has been such a healing experience. His appreciation helps me to physically be the sexy woman that I hid inside for so long. My Menopause is upon me but he doesn’t care and I have learned that having sex regularly (as well as utilising some of the Kegel exercisers on the market) helps to keep my body working well.
It’s hard for our menfolk to be realistic in the face of such a concerted campaign to persuade them otherwise but, once they are made aware of what’s going on, I think they are as shocked as we are.
And, yes, we sometimes watch porn together 🙂
With Best Wishes
I just came across this thread and wanted to comment. I think maturity plays a lot into this matter. In other words, as we get older those superficial things dont hold a lot of value in regards to sex. I will admit when I was younger everything had to be just right for a woman to be considered sexy in my eyes. Now that I am in my 50’s I look at things quite a bit different. Sexiness is a state of being, not a physical condition although a well preserved physical condition is sexy. It doesnt matter to me if my wife has a few wrinkles, cellulite, sagging breasts and a full pubic hair. The size of her labia doesnt matter either. The fact is she is in great shape considering age and child bearing. In fact she has done it better than I have. Chances are my comments dont matter to younger woman that want the perfect body, labia, shave, perky breasts etc. Perhaps, it is not the advertisements for all the sexy products that get my attention but the Dove commercials where they show real women. Real women make up 99% of the real population.
I must disagree. I have hated my labia forever, and it’s had nothing to do with porn or other women. They were totally wacky, in the way, uncomfortable, and yes, dare I say it…unattractive (to me). I just had them “made over” and I am SO THRILLED. I say to everyone who would judge me and my labia: “Walk a mile with them between your legs first.”
My body, my choice.
@Sex Fairy. I’m glad that this worked for you. There are definitely women that have labia that are so large that they are totally uncomfortable and so they choose to have them reduced. I stand by my statements, however, that even cosmetic surgery caries risks that sometimes women do not take into account fully because they are so focused on their hatred of this part of their body. So many women are too easily influenced by other people’s opinion of what it beautiful and what is sexy – and it is unfortunate that the psychological component of hating one’s body can be so strong as to drive a person to cosmetic surgery when they are perfectly natural. I have seen thousands of women’s vulvas and know that large labia, rather than small is the norm, and there are many physiological reasons women have discomfort with their labia that has nothing to do with size (hormones, yeast, tight clothing).