Medical industry observers estimate that plastic surgery of the female genitals is the fastest-growing cosmetic surgery sector in the United States. These procedures, which include reducing the labia, tightening the vagina and reattaching the hymen, reshape the female body so it conforms to social norms that dictate the properly sexed female subject. Such practices of genital plastic surgery emphasize the body’s status as cultural terrain and illustrate Judith Butler’s theory that, contrary to conventional understanding, gender produces sexed bodies. In this case, the discourses of Western medicine and the media produce messages on how gender is expressed through the body, and plastic surgery functions as the means through which those gender norms are translated into flesh.
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