Elongated labia refers to the condition in which a woman’s labia, especially the more pliable inner folds or labia minora, are longer than normal. But just how long is "longer than normal"? That is not so easily defined. The answer actually depends on how one defines normal. As with most physical features, the standard of what is normal (as well as what is attractive) depends heavily on what people are accustomed to seeing.
For example, in modern America, many people -- especially males -- have had their aesthetic sensibilities shaped by the glistening vulvas featured in the pages of Penthouse magazine (and its imitators). To varying degrees, such publications have conditioned their "readers" to desire and anticipate perky little pink pussies with unobtrusive, unwrinkled, and perfectly symmetrical labia and very small labia minora. For the more easily brainwashed, anything differing from this depiction is "abnormal" and undesirable, according to this dominant cultural aesthetic.
But on the other hand, in those cultures where most people do not see other people’s genitals, except within fairly monogamous sexual relationships, there is no strongly defined standard of normalcy at all -- beyond the hope that the woman's private parts are healthy and fully functional. By way of drastic example, in 19th century France a 44 year-old late bloomer named Sophie went to the physician, suddenly concerned that there was something abnormal about her vagina or labia since her new husband could not manage to penetrate her (and thus consummate their recent marriage).
The physician on duty, a professor Michaux, informed Sophie that of course her husband could not penetrate her vagina -- she didn't have one. Her so-called "labia" he added, were really a malformed scrotum. In the face of Sophie's implacable incredulity he finally exploded, "My good woman, you are a man!" According to professor Michaux, Sophie's overly large "clitoris" (about 5 cm long) was in fact a small penis, and the "hernia" in her crotch was actually a partly descended testicle. So alien was this information to poor Sophie that she became convinced that professor Michaux was either mad, or possessed of a very cruel sense of humor.
Clearly neither Sophie nor her husband could sufficiently evaluate the normalcy (or abnormality) of her "female" genitalia to realize that "she" was actually an hermaphrodite, and probaby a "he". Only the doctor, having seen many female (and male) crotches, could identify the exact nature of their sexual difficulties.
Clearly, one's concept of what constitutes "normal" female genitalia depends heavily upon what one has been conditioned to expect. Hermaphrodites and the Penthouse Pin-ups aside, normal, healthy women do vary a great deal in the appearance of their genitalia, not least of all in the appearance of their labia.
Just as each woman's face is unique ( before being pummelled into uniformity by hot waxing, liposuction, botox, cosmetics and collagen injection), so too is each woman's labia unique, with marked variations in size, shape, color, and even texture. While some are certainly small and pink, others are long, ruffled, and dark. Some are long and thin, some are lumpy and thick.
The fact that the appearence is not as standardized as mainstream erotica would imply, stems in large part from human evolution. More specifically, from evolution driving forces of sexual selection – that process by which a species develops along one path rather than another because individuals with certain traits have more success in attracting a mate.
The diversity in normal female labia acutally indicates that throughout most of human history there has been little evolutionary pressure on the appearence of women's labia (relative to other anatomical features). Meaning that it was not the trait males were focusing on in choosing their mate. It should come as no surprise that most males over the millenia have been so thrilled to have pussy access that they didn't bother to quibble over minor details of genital conformation that can’t even be seen once their dick is inserted. (Which might explain why a pretty face and attractive breasts have held high priority.)
With the exception of the two thousand year old practice of Female Circumcision, it is primarily in our age of movie close-ups and full-page “spreads” that concern over genital appearance (rather than function) has become such a preoccupation – enough so that some plastic surgeons now offer a “face lift” for the pussy, providing the client with a designer vagina as well as labia reduction surgery.
But like all beauty standards, pussy lip aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. While American women, especially those dwelling in Hollywood California, may be willing to shell out the big bucks to have their labia nipped and tucked into a porn mag carbon copy, in other cultures, long labia are all the rage. For example, many African cultures have long believed that long labia lips were a thing of beauty and intense erotic power. Anthropologists assert that at least eight different cultures hold very strongly to this view -- including the Soga Bantu, the Baganda, the Lesotho, and the Tutsi.
Thus, when white European men at last strode boldly into the “dark continent”, laying waste and taking prisoners, cultures clashed on more fronts than is commonly realized! In fact these pale northerners, were stunned to notice just how "well hung" some African beauties actually were. In southern Africa, Dutch colonialists nicknamed the phenomenon “the Hottentot Apron” (Hottentot being the perjorative name they assigned the San peoples) and speculated that it was a sign of sexual immorality and low bloodlines.
One 19th century Khoisan or “Hottentot” woman, Saartjie Baartman, was actually exhibited in Europe so that smug white men could gape and snicker at her large buttocks and unusually long labia. White Europeans, obsessed with applying the new theories of Charles Darwin in racial contexts (to prove they were at the top of the evolutionary ladder), were thrilled to gawk at such obvious differences, for surely they proved the animal-like nature of the Negro. Saartjie, on display in her cage, was herself likened to a chimpanzee, which were alleged to have similar looking genitals.
Apparently no one bothered to check out this “fact” since chimpanzees actually have very small labia. But while long labia may not be a relic of our proto-human/proto-ape ancestors, the trait can be inherited. In fact, some American women have gone through painful labia reducing surgeries -- surgeries which robbed them of significant sexual sensation -- only to discover that, far from being a freakish fluke, they were simply configured just like mom and grandma.
But what about the distribution of this genetic trait within the human population? Information on this point is quite sketchy. But we do know that long labia minora seem to be be much more common in Africa. Of course genetics is not the only factor at play here. Many African women actually lengthen their labia on purpose, simply because it is considered beautiful.
For example, Lesotho girls of southern Africa (at least traditionally) stretched their own labia through a repetitive pulling and stretching procedure, often helping each other with this process. (Forget about taffy pulling!) While considered a fun activity in itself (sometimes leading to additional sexual contact between girls), the resultant longer labia were believed to enhance sexual pleasure during heterosexual coitus. To go back to our original query as to how long is long, in this case, long was certainly quite long. Some sources indicate the girls' labia minora may have reached a length of up to seven inches!
Ironically, pussy pulling is making a comeback. One internet website in particular actually promotes membership by promising to teach the art of labia stretching to enrollees. The claim is that labia stretching will somehow release that worn out wrinkly I’ve-been-fucked-too-many-times look. An odd claim since urologists note that a slight lengthening of the labia is a trait usually associated with aging and the cumulative effects of gravity.
Fortunately for those so afflicted, medical intervention is available by way of the labia reduction surgery mentioned earlier. However the vast majority of women who have sought out this surgery, as much as 90% in the case of one high profile surgeon, have sought the procedure not because of physical pain but because of vanity – that is, they thought they had ugly labia. Not content with their plastically perfect faces and silicone boob jobs, they wanted to have their personal parts modelled into the fembot perfection depicted in the porn magazines.
Ironically, despite their enjoyment of these same magazines, some American and European men profess to actually prefer a vulva with more defined labia. As African men have for centuries, they acknowledge that it creates more sensation during intercourse. Others note that it gives them more to play with during oral sex. Although there are no precise numbers to go on here, the implication is that what men like to look at and what they like to experience with tongue and cock are not always the same thing. One is a conditioned visual aesthetic, and the other is a raw tactile response.
But the preferences and predilections of men aside, the ramification for women of all this labial debate is simply that women are going to have decide for themselves where their priorities lay – specifically is it more important to resemble the narrow selection of girls plastered in men's magazines, or is it more important to enjoy life and to find pleasure in one’s own body.
As an amusing side note, those who just can't seem to choose between being a slave to fashion and enjoying the flesh they were born in might just consider cultivating a fetish for piercing. When it comes to body modifications, piercing is far less expensive than plastic surgery. And in the world of piercing art, the bigger you are, the bigger your canvas.