Elongated labia (also known as Sinus pudoris or macronympha and albeit nonmedically, as khoikhoi apron or hottentot apron), are a feature of certain Khoikhoi people, whose female members develop relatively elongated labia minora, hanging up to four inches outside their vulva when they are standing in an upright position. The "apron" designation was apparently gained from the tendency of early European descriptions to misidentify the pair of labia as a single, wide organ, which they called, in French, a tablier, or "apron".
This trait was first noted as far back as the 17th century, but became extensively documented in the last part of the 18th and the 19th century.[better source needed] It was Sarah Baartman's 19th century case that brought the elongated labia back out for discussion. For many years, the identification of Baartman was questioned because she demonstrated this feature. In the Gender and Science Reader, elongated labia minora were said to be portrayed by a "Negro." So it is because of this trait that Baartman was considered to be part of the so-called "inferior race".
Labia may also be shaped by intentional labia stretching, usually done by an older aunt on girls beginning at the age of five, a practice that formerly fell into the category of Type IV female genital mutilation.[better source needed] In 2008, The World Health Organisation reclassified the practice as a body modification due to a perceived lack of harm and a reported much more positive perception of women's sexuality by those who practice it.
- Potgieter, D.J., ed. (1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa. 1. NASOU. p. 460. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Pieterse, Jan Nederveen (1992). White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture. Yale University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780300063110.
"The Female Hottentot, with natural Apron." The "Hottentot apron", a late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century medical myth of grossly overdeveloped labia, is here represented as fact. (Lithograph by J. Pafs, Great Britain, 1795)
- Baker, John R. (1974). Race (PDF). Oxford University Press. p. 315.
- Lederman, Muriel; Bartsch, Ingrid, eds. (2001). The Gender and Science Reader. New York: Routledge.
- "Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation". Archived from the original on 21 May 2008.
- health and beauty: vaginal practices: Indonesia (Yogyakarta), Mozambique (Tete), South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), and Thailand (Chonburi)