Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

girl in mirrorRenee is like most teen girls. She struggles to accept her body. Obsessed with concerns about weight, beauty and comparing herself to others, she regularly finds ways to disparage her body.  But her most recent issue takes body acceptance to a whole new level. And I will warn you, this is R rated.

Renee is considering plastic surgery–on her genitals. According to the America Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Renee is not alone. This group has witnessed an 80% increase in the number of girls under the age of 18 receiving genital plastic surgery. The numbers have been so concerning that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued new guidelines for doctors performing this and breast surgery. One of those guidelines is to screen for body dysmorphic disorder, a psychiatric disorder in which a person obsesses on a perceived body flaw and feels distress. In this case, the flaw is imperfect or ugly and disgusting genitals.

You may wonder, why would a young woman feel ashamed of her genitals? The answer has to do with shame. And the source of that shame has to do with the impact of porn on the thinking of young women and men. With porn so available and watched by so many, girls and boys are able see what the “perfect” or “desirable” gentitalia is supposed to look like, at least according to porn stars. Then when they compare their bodies to those of porn stars, they feel they don’t measure up. Thus, we have women who think they must correct their defect through plastic surgery, and men evaluating women against this “ideal.”

It’s all quite disturbing-too much information and objectification of women. This sets the stage. Women want  to please men by correcting some distorted image they have of their bodies. And men, whose ideas of beauty and desirability are shaped by viewing pornography, react to the what they see and desire.   You can imagine what this does to intimacy.

Obviously, body acceptance doesn’t get better with surgery. Rather, we need a surgery of the heart in which women see themselves in the image of God and stop comparing themselves to others, especially porn stars. Here again, we see the fall out of the impact of pornography and the destruction it brings to people’s lives-shame, feeling ugly, not good enough–so much so that young women are willing to surgically change their most private parts!

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