April 24th, 2001


(no subject)

Hi Gang,

I'm sitting here eating fortune cookies with lame fortunes. Okay well the first ones were lame. I don't know whether it's the sugar rush or what but these last ones seem to have picked up a bit,"Fortune cookies says: your sensitivity is an asset." and "You have a friendly heart and will be admired." I'll settle for those. "Prosperity makes friends and adversity tries them." Oh well, so much for the good ones, we're back to the cynical cookie writer sitting in some cramped little basement room somewhere. Maybe he knows whereof he speaks, the former owner of a popular raamen house finding himself forced out of business by a fast food noodle shop, sinks to this desperate fortune cookie writing job, and finds some comfort in the occasional cynical cookie insert.

My new rescue puppy who still doesn't have a name made friends with a little chow named bambi on her walk today. They were so cute rolling all over eachother. Much licking of private doggy parts.

Art Bell and his guest are droning on in the background, I'm tuning them out because it's so damned depressing. Something horribly mysterious and strange is happening in the Antarctic, we're all going to be turned into a grey goo, and our future game technology will destroy our children's brains. Oh Fuck off, it's hard enough listening to the news.

You know what? In all this time that I've been talking about the refinancing of my loan, I still don't have the check. The lenders paid off the old balance owing to keep my building from being sold, which I don't understand since they are taking so damned long to close this thing, but I still don't have my money and nightmare of nightmares, my Mother found out that I had a loan on the building. I'm sitting here writing to you, so as far as I can tell she hasn't killed me. I'm not making any long term plans though.

I bought three new books, "I'm the One I Want", by Margaret Cho, and something by Michael Korda about his moving from New York City to the country, and I feel badly that I've forgotten the third. I wanted to buy The Bonesetter's Daughter, Amy Tan's new book, but Margaret Cho got to me first. I didn't know kids had been so mean to her when she was little. I love that when one of her childhood tormentors came up to her backstage after one of her concerts, eager to show her friend's that they had once known each other, Margaret pretended not to know her and rudely turned away and left her standing there. Woo hoo, revenge is sweet sometimes.

I'm going to post this article I read about vaginal reconstructive surgery. Do you know I actually thought about this? I thought, well, I've been hearing about, maybe there's something to it, maybe I've changed since having my son, maybe my vagina could use a little nip and tuck. Can you imagine my wanting to make my vagina prettier? Like I need one more thing to feel bad about, one more ridiculous ideal to hold myself up to and further deflate my self-esteem over. I love her Barbie smooth genital analogy. So with apologies in advance and no judgement intended towards friends who've chosen to undergo various forms of cosmetic surgery, here is this article I liked;

Vaginal Cosmetic Surgery
by Julia Scheeres: 04/24/2000

Women should learn to accept themselves instead of trying these cringeworthy new surgeries.
Just when it seemed that cosmetic surgeons had run out of body parts to plunder, they discovered a new area: the female genitalia.

Suddenly, there's a beauty standard for the vulva and vagina: smooth, small and hairless. The prepubescent look is in; natural, normal genitalia are out; and women are going under the knife to meet the new expectations. They are having fat injected into labia majora (outer lips) for a plumper, "more youthful" look; sagging mons (pubic mound) lifted and liposuctioned; wrinkled vulvas smoothed with lasers; postpartum vaginas tightened and long labia minora (inner lips) pruned.

These surgeries aren't cheap. At up to $10,000 a pop, the genital docs have struck a goldmine at a time when managed care has shrunk the patient supply. To drum up demand for these below-the-belt operations, the surgeons are hawking their services in press releases, newspaper advertisements and on the Internet (see a sample site). Pro-cosmetic surgery rags like "Cosmopolitan" have trumpeted their cause with positive reviews, but the flip side of the story remains untold.

The most common genital cosmetic procedure is labia minora reduction (labiaplasty), in which flesh that protrudes past the labia majora is snipped off. Ironically, when the same procedure is performed in some parts of Africa and the Middle East, Westerners denounce it as genital mutilation. But in the U.S., we call it cosmetic enhancement and pay beaucoup bucks to get it done. The possible side effects of the operation -- including infection, chronic pain and loss of sensation -- are just as horrific in the First World as in the Third. Every time an incision is made in the skin, the nerve fibers that enable us to feel pleasure and pain are permanently damaged. I spoke with three women who called their labiaplasty sexual suicide; post-op soreness and numbness killed their love lives.

Professional plastic surgery associations do not endorse these procedures, either. "Interior vaginal surgery is not something that most plastic surgeons concern themselves with," says Mark Jewell, the Commissioner of Communications for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "This hasn't been studied and published in peer-reviewed journals. I couldn't find anything in the medical literature that supports these surgeries."

All of these genital procedures are deeply rooted in misogynist notions of the female genitalia as ugly, dirty and shameful. David Matlock, a prominent Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon, actually took out an ad in the Los Angeles press appealing to women who "suffer from low self-esteem due to abnormal or enlarged vaginal appearance."

Mary Gatter, the medical director of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and gynecologist with over 20 years experience, says that when it comes to vulvas, "there is a large variation of what's normal." According to her and several other gynecologists I spoke with, a woman's genitals are as individual as her face -- indeed, there is no such thing as a "normal" vulva. Vulvar aesthetics also vary greatly from culture to culture. In Japan long labia minora are called "winged butterfly." And in some African tribes, girls tie small weights to their labia minora to stretch them to desired lengths.

Plastic surgeons are using an age-old formula to separate women from their money: attack the female self-image. Let's face it: unless you're highly acrobatic, you usually don't see your own genitals. But your lover does, and that's the angle the plastic surgery misogynists are trying to exploit. What's more terrifying for a woman in our patriarchal society than to grow old and "lose her looks"? It's the same hype used to peddle everything from wrinkle creams to push-up bras. Women are less valued with age, men grow more powerful. And instead of fighting for economic parity, we wage a lifelong battle to stay classified as "pretty young things."

In our quest to mimic that most American icon of female beauty, Barbie, we've stuffed silicone bags into our chests, paralyzed our expressions with bacteria injections and died vacuuming fat from our hips and thighs. Now we can have Barbie's smooth synthetic crotch as well. What's next?

Instead of risking our sexual pleasure for the sake of creepy new beauty standards, we should heed this age-old formula: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.