© 2019

Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery

Deviance, Desire and the Pursuit of Perfection


  • Presents a wide-ranging history of the phenomenon, stretching back to the Ancients and up to the present day debates

  • Challenges the dominant explanation of female cosmetic genital surgery – known as the ‘pornography thesis’

  • Sheds light on a topic that has been attracting increasing attention within gender studies and feminist scholarship

  • Brings rich historical context to a practice that is often depicted as somehow unique to this era


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Camille Nurka
    Pages 1-27
  3. Camille Nurka
    Pages 29-52
  4. Camille Nurka
    Pages 53-81
  5. Camille Nurka
    Pages 83-124
  6. Camille Nurka
    Pages 125-158
  7. Camille Nurka
    Pages 159-197
  8. Camille Nurka
    Pages 199-241
  9. Camille Nurka
    Pages 243-256
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 257-268

About this book


Examining the fascinating history of female genital cosmetic surgery, Camille Nurka traces the origins of contemporary ideas of genital normality. Over the past twenty years, Western women have become increasingly worried about the aesthetic appearance of their labia minora and are turning to cosmetic surgery to achieve the ideal vulva: a clean slit with no visible protrusion of the inner lips. Long labia minora are described by medical experts as ‘hypertrophied,’ a term that implies deformity and the atypical. But how far back does the diagnosis of labial hypertrophy go, and where did it originate? Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery tells the story of the female genitalia from the alien world of ancient Greek gynaecology to the colonial period of exploration and exploitation up to the present day. Bringing together historical, medical, and theoretical documentation and commentary, Nurka uncovers a long tradition of pathologizing female anatomy, a history sure to be of interest to any reader who wishes to know more about how medicine shapes our commonly held ideals.  


Female genital cosmetic surgery Gender studies Sexual shame Genital shame Labiaplasty Gender norms Sexual norms Porn thesis Cosmetic Labiaplasty Surgery Racialization Sexological sciences Sexual Ambiguity Intersex

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Mount WaverleyAustralia

About the authors

Camille Nurka, PhD, is a gender studies scholar living and working in Australia. She has taught as a sessional lecturer and tutor at a number of Australian universities and published widely on the politics of sexed embodiment. She is also a professional freelance copyeditor for academics in the humanities and social sciences.

Bibliographic information


“Nurka presents a rich insight to the history of female genital cosmetic surgery. To date, this book constitutes the most comprehensive and detailed account of the medicalisation of female genitalia. It should be considered an essential reference point for future works pertaining to genital fashioning.” (Alexandra James, Journal of Sociology, Issue 1-3, 2020)