Original art for the 2005 fall issue of Shameless by Renée Nault.

I wrote my very first glossy magazine feature five years ago about vaginas. Or, to be more precise, about the growing trend for labiaplasties: cosmetic modification of the vulva, undertaken in over 90 per cent of cases for aesthetic reasons (rather than for pain or other medical concerns). Some like to call them “designer vaginas.”

This was published not in one of the innumerable “women’s” magazines, amid tedious diet tips and guides to “The Five Shades of Lipstick That Will Save Your Relationship,” but for Shameless, the world’s first feminist magazine for teenagers.

This feature remains very close to my heart for two reasons: one, it netted me my very first National Magazine Award nomination (and the first for Shameless). And two, I received letters from readers – young girls suffering the agonising insecurities of adolescence – telling me that I had genuinely made them feel better about their bodies. One wrote to say she actually had started to feel that her vulva was a thing to love, rather than to feel embarrassed about. This still brings me an incredible amount of pride.

So it was with a keen interest that I received the following email (I shall not disclose the name and email address of the sender for litigious reasons).

* * *

February 6, 2010

Hello Zoe,

Would you consider placing a promotional link on your page: http://www.zoecormier.com/freelance/making-the-cut/?

The link would be for a website which offers cosmetic surgery and vaser liposuction.

My budget isn’t enormous, but I am hoping there is a reasonable price we could arrange since it’s just a tiny piece of screen real estate I’m interested in.

Please let me know if you’re open to this, and if not I appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck with your site.

Thank You!

* * *

My response:

February 6, 2010

Hello,

Thanks for your inquiry. Quick question – did you actually read the article in question?

Kind Regards

Zoe

* * *

Her response:

February 8, 2010

Hello Zoe,

Yes, it mentions about cosmetic surgery so I find it interesting.

I would like to place a simple promotional text link on your page http://www.zoecormier.com/freelance/making-the-cut/ to link to [a cosmetic surgery clinic].

If possible I would really want to place that link within a sentence or two that I could write up so that it reads well (it won’t be overly promotional or lengthy).

I can pay you $70 USD for the link, for the whole year paid upfront with the assumption that you’ll leave it live on that page for at least 12 months, or longer if you prefer.

If that arrangement isn’t agreeable perhaps we could come up with something different for a couple additional links or some way in which we both benefit more (you more money, me more opportunity to get visits), let me know and I will see what I can do.

Please get back to me if interested and include your paypal account ID (just your email of course) for payment. I look forward to your positive response.

Thanks!

* * *

February 10, 2010

Hello,

Thanks again for your email – your proposal is certainly very interesting.

But again, I have to ask, did you actually read the article? Have a look at the last three paragraphs and please let me know if you think it is still a suitable place for the advertising in question.

All the best

Zoe

* * *

February 16, 2010

Hello,

I did read. Are you still interested? Let me know.

Thanks.

* * *

My response:

February 20, 2010

Hello,

I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline. I feel that advertising for the services in question would not harmonise with the spirit of the article. My intention was to celebrate the natural diversity of women’s bodies, rather than promote the belief that there is a ‘right’ or ‘ideal’ way to look.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

Kind Regards

Zoe

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