The female body is a masterpiece and should be recognized as such. Every one of us has our own set of quirks and charms, and although we may not always be satisfied with our bodies, or we may experience physical ailments that bring us down, it’s important to embrace every imperfection for exactly what they are. Moreover, taking a physical affliction and turning it into something beautiful, like artwork, can absolutely be inspirational for those experiencing hardships in their own lives. But something like Tracy Kiss’ labia necklace may be taking the idea a little too far.
Just in case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Kiss is a London-based blogger and lingerie model who loves tattoos, weightlifting, and following a vegan lifestyle. When the single mother of two noticed a burning pain in her labia minora — aka the two small folds of skin that extend backward on each side of the vaginal opening — she made an appointment with her doctor.
Kiss admitted to Teen Vogue that she had always experienced discomfort “wearing underwear, jeans, cycling, and sitting on hard surfaces,” but that she had overlooked the pain until her doctor discovered a cyst caused by excess labia tissue.
The only way to prevent additional cysts from forming was to have a labiaplasty.
According to the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery, labiaplasty is a cosmetic procedure that "reduces the size or changes the shape of the small lips on the outside of the vagina."
Kiss told Teen Vogue she was fully conscious during the procedure and asked her surgeons if it would be possible to keep her labia as a "trophy of finally being pain free."
I left them on a French dresser for the best part of a year and they turned grey and curly, so I decided to look into a long-term way to preserve them.
Kiss even wrote a blog post that explains in great detail how she turned her labia into a piece of jewelry.
The fitness influencer admitted to readers that she not only values various keepsakes like her children's finger paintings, baby teeth, and locks of hair, but she keeps virtually everything with sentimental value, not excluding body parts.
And this isn't the first time Kiss has held onto body parts post-surgery. Apparently the model needed to have an emergency breast reduction in 2012; she still has the silicone breast implants the doctors removed.
Having kept her labia in a jar on her kitchen counter since the surgery, Kiss noticed the organ's discoloration, leading to her research on preservation.
She wrote in her blog post,
When I came across crystal jewelry, making it seemed a quirky and easy way to make bespoke keepsakes for all purposes, albeit mine may be quite unique! My 9-year-old daughter was thrilled to undertake a new summer holiday craft of her own creations and I had high hopes of rejuvenating my wilting labia in a jar.
We started off by making glittery necklace pendants and jewels in beautiful rainbow colors one sunny summer afternoon and once I’d perfected the technique of setting crystal resin effectively I then advanced to preserving my labia within a pendant of my own.
But while turning her labia into a necklace is inspirational, some may see it as a bit disrespectful.
According to The United Nations Population Fund, female genital mutation (FGM) refers to any and all procedures that either partially or completely remove female genitalia "for cultural or other non-medical reasons." Fortunately, FGM has been illegal in the United States since 1996, but it is still a horrific reality for women in other parts of the world, including Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Current statistics show, as of today, an estimated 200 million women have been subjected to FGM, and the numbers continue to increase.
While it's understandable that Kiss' decision to preserve her labia as a necklace holds sentimental value and is symbolic of the pain she endured, it could potentially come off as insensitive to the many women subjected to or affected by FGM.
Elite Daily spoke with Kiss about her decision to create a necklace using her labia and the potential ways in which people might misconstrue the craft. She explains,
My heart goes out to all who are affected by FGM, and if I could stop it from happening, I would. To bring about change, we must first encourage discussion.
I’m very much for freedom of choice and believe we must all be educated in the pros and cons of every procedure before being free and able to make our own decision. Nobody should suffer in silence.
Women, and men alike should be free to decide what is right for their own bodies, to make adaptations for medical or cosmetic reasons without being judged, forced, or harmed by others.
Kiss also tells Elite Daily that by sharing her experience with labiaplasty, she hopes "that it breaks down the taboo of sexual health and self-awareness and opens the discussion of the barbaric nature of FGM and brings question to its legality."
When all is said and done, it seems Kiss' intention was never to offend anyone. If wearing a necklace made with parts of her labia helps her feel empowered, who are we to judge?