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Hackney Feminist leads 'Muff March' protest

PUBLISHED: 11:10 14 December 2011 | UPDATED: 15:24 14 December 2011

Sarah Haynes, the grassroots campaigns officer for Women for Women International, holds the Muff March banner (centre)

Sarah Haynes, the grassroots campaigns officer for Women for Women International, holds the Muff March banner (centre)

Dr Will Brooker, of Kingston University

A Hackney feminist organised an unusual protest on Saturday, which saw more than 100 demonstrators gather in central London to slam the trend for women to go under the knife for 'designer vaginas'.

The ‘Muff March’ took place in Harley Street – famous for its plastic surgery clinics – and culminated in a synchronised ‘muff dance’ outside the exclusive medical offices.

The group, led by Kat Banyard, director of the women’s rights group UK Feminista, was responding to figures showing the demand for labiaplasty operations has soared, with the Harley Medical Group receiving a record 5,000 inquiries about cosmetic gynaecology last year.

The operation, which involves cutting away parts of the labia, is sometimes carried out for medical purposes, but is often performed as a cosmetic procedure.

Many of the protesters wore fake pubic hair and brandished banners as they chanted slogans, including “there’s nothing finer than my vagina”.

Ms Banyard said: “We want to shine a spotlight on cosmetic surgeons who ruthlessly mine women’s bodies to extract maximum profit.

“Women’s beauty regimes increasingly encompass ‘ideals’ peddled by the pornography industry, like the porn norm of women removing all their pubic hair, the industry preferring its performers to look more like pre-pubescent girls.

“Now pornography is exposing women to the toxic myth that there is one ‘right’ way for their labia to look. It’s time to fight back.”

Sarah Haynes, grassroots coordinator for the UK Feminista London Activist Group, said the event was about “taking a stand against those who profit from women’s body hatred”.

She added: “The day went really well. After chanting down the full length of Harley Street we had a synchronised ‘muff dance’ showing that we love our labia, and telling the cosmetic surgeons to keep their mitts off our muffs.”

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