Cosmetic Surgery, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2005/2007
94, 8 x 113,8 x 3,2 cm
plate: 16,6 x 11,4 cm
The patient in this photograph is 21 years old. She is of Palestinian descent and
living in the United States. In order to adhere to cultural and familial expectations
regarding her virginity and marriage, she underwent hymenoplasty. Without it she
feared she would be rejected by her future husband and bring shame upon her family.
She flew in secret to Florida where the operation was performed by Dr. Bernard
Stern, a plastic surgeon she located on the internet.
The purpose of hymenoplasty is to reconstruct a ruptured hymen, the membrane
which partially covers the opening of the vagina. It is an outpatient procedure
which takes approximately 30 minutes and can be done under local or
The hymen has not been proven to serve any biological function. Some girls are
born with an imperforate hymen. Rupture most often occurs during first intercourse,
but some girls tear their hymen during sports activities or as a result of injuries. The
majority of the time there is a correlation between an intact hymen and a woman's
virginity; many cultures view the tearing of the hymen as a critical symbol of that
loss. While similar attempts to alter the hymen predate modern plastic surgery,
hymenoplasty is now just one of several vaginal cosmetic surgeries that are growing
in popularity worldwide. Dr. Stern charges $3,500 for hymenoplasty. He also
performs labiaplasty and vaginal rejuvenation.
Inv. Nr. 2007/70
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
Acquired with funding from the Grunelius-Stiftung, Frankfurt am Main
© Taryn Simon
Photo: Axel Schneider