Girls didn’t talk about labiaplasty when I was nine years old. The thought of wanting a crotch like Barbie’s – bare, smooth, undefined – would have struck us as bizarre.
We still learned to hate our female bodies, but in ways appropriate to our time and place. We starved and self-harmed, binged and purged, but our hatred was blunt and unrefined. We didn’t yet know that each body part merits a hatred all of its own.
Today’s pre-teen girls are different. It’s not enough to despise your budding breasts, or the soft expanse of your stomach, or those thighs that you pinch until they’re bruised. You have to go much further than that. There are specific tests to pass – do you have a thigh gap? A bikini bridge? – plus there are constant developments in the field of cutesy terminology for places where you might have excess fat (muffin tops, side boobs, bingo wings, back fat and cankles aren’t even the half of it).