Women, I have some bad news.
According to Shape, a fitness magazine that largely interprets "fit" as "actively losing weight" just as your face starts sagging, "your lady parts will inevitably change over time."
Oh God, it's almost like your vagina is part of your body and it's going to age like the rest of you! We truly are living in a nightmare world. "7 Ways to Keep Your Vagina Young" is, as Jezebel notes, one of many, many pieces on "vaginal rejuvenation"—the hot new buzzword aiming to get women everywhere feeling terrible about the effects of time on an exciting new body part.
Shape offers advice on keeping your vagina shiny and droop-free, with hot tips like "stop riding your bike" and "swan around on a bouncy ball for 15 minutes a day." And if you're not worried about your vag like you're worried about your face (you're worried about your face, right?), you soon will be—the mag notes changes like lost fat around the outer labia can start as early as your 20s, with "changes inside your vagina (hello, stretching!)" following around the time of menopause.
While the increased popularity of vaginal rejuvenation procedures in the US is notable—the number of operations performed rose 64 percent between 2011 and 2012—it's also worth remembering that plastic surgery in general is on the up. Reuters recently published a report suggesting a relationship between the rise of the selfie and a reported 33 percent increase in surgical consultations during which the patients brought out self-snapped images.
The selfies-as-causation claim is dubious—it sounds like patients are simply bringing in photographs of the facial features they would like altered—but the statistics are a reminder of contemporary culture's obsession with youth and a normative standard of beauty. Last year Americans spent $12 billion on cosmetic surgical procedures, with more than half of the surgeons Reuters polled reporting an increase in patients under 30.
Ultimately, of course, it's your body. Your choice. Want to chop off bits of your labia? Go ahead! Planning to pump yourself full of hormones to keep that middle-aged pussy a gentle neon pink? Be my guest. But the not-so-implicit message of articles like Shape's is a classic, one-two punch of ageism and sexism: Older women aren't allowed to be sexy—or, worse, sexual.
Personally, I'm not particularly worried about the toll of the years on my baby bank. I plan for my vagina to age like Susan Sarandon (fabulously and with the aid of marijuana).
It's the same sort of thinking that turns the MILF into a comedy character in films and has everyone losing their shit at the idea that Helen Mirren is managing to remain attractive and alluring into her later years. "A sagging hoo-ha can be a confidence killer in the bedroom," Shape warns, and one has to wonder how women's confidence would be affected if they weren't being bombarded with articles about their tragic, aging nethers.
Personally, I'm not particularly worried about the toll of the years on my baby bank. I plan for my vagina to age like Susan Sarandon (fabulously and with the aid of marijuana). But what options are left if we refuse to invest now in creams, potions, and "vajacials" to keep things spry? How to put your graying, hangy-outy vagina to use now that you're "in your 20s" and your bits are already over the hill? I'd like to humbly offer a few suggestions:
CULTIVATE A SENSE OF ADVENTURE
It's not sex, it's "spelunking"; it's not "fingering," it's "a walk in a lady Sahara"; it's not "avoiding intimacy," it's "pretending we're never going to die."
Sneak a novelty-sized Toblerone into the cinema, or keep a tube of lip gloss in there—so you always have some when you need it. Then, feel great shame about your body and the natural processes of aging.
TOTAL GYM DOMINANCE
Never wait in line for the cross-trainer again! Simply engulf the surly teen hogging the machine in your massive horror-gina, surrounding them completely (hello, stretching!). Proceed to work out for the next three to six hours, because for God's sake, you're falling apart, woman. Simply scoop out your vaginal prisoner when you're done!
Paint a tiny, fur-trimmed hat—Christmas is never far away where your aged pubis is concerned!—and jolly face above your tatty gray pubes. Ask your partner if they've been naughty or nice this year, then close your legs, you elderly hag—that's disgusting.
CLASSIC INHERITANCE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE
Sure, your relatives can have all your money... if they can spend the night in your creaky, dusty, probably haunted vagina. Your vagina is scary like ghosts are scary!
But what to do with your saggy old balls? Whatever you damn want! Teabag a 21-year-old! Send your intern a dick pic! Scoop them off the ground and drape them over the eyes of the decades-younger actress playing your love interest!
Stiiiiilllll got it.
Follow Monica Heisey on Twitter.
Thumbnail image via Flickr user Patty Mooney.
More vagina stuff from VICE: