We live in a society where beauty and sensations are important. Advances in medical technologies have brought on waves of new notions of beauty where commercial interests both in the media and the health industry spurred by fashion, advertising and celebrity promotion have tended to popularise body modifications and enhancements. In recent times, through offerings on cable television channels and glossy consumer magazines, medical procedures hitherto only in the precincts of medical schools, gynecological clinics and medical journals have now pervaded the public domain. More seriously, on the Internet particularly, medical experts now offer services and graphic details of labiaplasty, clitoral hood reduction or enhancement, vaginal rejuvenation, etc. This study examines the public communication of the phenomenon of aesthetic genital surgery and interrogates thus: is it decent, honest, balanced, and ethical? Relying on textual analysis, personal observation, and literature review for data gathering, this paper observes that beside tending to commercial and medicalise the female genitalia, a coalescence of medical, advertising, and fashion interests as played out in the media sensationalises the benign science of plastic surgery and robs it of its truthfulness, genuineness, and purposefulness. The conclusion is that in Africa, where the effects of the development crisis are telling, the hype surrounding cosmetic or aesthetic genital surgery is a damaging distraction particularly when the continent is yet to win the battle with female genital mutilation. The recommendations are that media and medical regulatory bodies should impress it upon media and medical industry operators that frank commercial promotions of cosmetic genital surgery in the public media be checked, and that such communication should bear equal weight of facts related to risks, shortcomings, complications, and threats in physical, social, and psychological terms.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Sensationalising the female pudenda
An examination of public communication of aesthetic genital surgery

Ashong C. Ashong   Department of Communication Arts,University of Uyo

Herbert Batta   Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo

We live in a society where beauty and sensations are important. Advances in medical technologies have brought on waves of new notions of beauty where commercial interests both in the media and the health industry spurred by fashion, advertising and celebrity promotion have tended to popularise body modifications and enhancements. In recent times, through offerings on cable television channels and glossy consumer magazines, medical procedures hitherto only in the precincts of medical schools, gynecological clinics and medical journals have now pervaded the public domain. More seriously, on the Internet particularly, medical experts now offer services and graphic details of labiaplasty, clitoral hood reduction or enhancement, vaginal rejuvenation, etc. This study examines the public communication of the phenomenon of aesthetic genital surgery and interrogates thus: is it decent, honest, balanced, and ethical? Relying on textual analysis, personal observation, and literature review for data gathering, this paper observes that beside tending to commercial and medicalise the female genitalia, a coalescence of medical, advertising, and fashion interests as played out in the media sensationalises the benign science of plastic surgery and robs it of its truthfulness, genuineness, and purposefulness. The conclusion is that in Africa, where the effects of the development crisis are telling, the hype surrounding cosmetic or aesthetic genital surgery is a damaging distraction particularly when the continent is yet to win the battle with female genital mutilation. The recommendations are that media and medical regulatory bodies should impress it upon media and medical industry operators that frank commercial promotions of cosmetic genital surgery in the public media be checked, and that such communication should bear equal weight of facts related to risks, shortcomings, complications, and threats in physical, social, and psychological terms.

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