Boost Your Sex Appeal: Whiten Your Genitals

Despite the date stamped on the calendar, I think it’s safe to say that summer has officially arrived. For many of us, this means increased hours outside, whether it’s on a bike, in the water, or merely sprawled in the sun, working on our tans. Despite concerns surrounding UV exposure, there’s nothing quite like a nice, natural looking bronze glow to give off an aura of robust health and boost summer sex appeal for women and men alike…at least in the U.S., anyway.

In India, however, the opposite seems to be more in demand. Women there have long been taught that fair skin is the ultimate mark of beauty, as evidenced by their booming skin-whitening cream industry. According to a recent article in the BBC News Magazine, the skin-lightening sector brought in $432 million in 2010 and has grown by 18% each year since. This translates into more skin-whitening cream than Coca Cola being sold in India on an annual basis. It also means women there are bombarded with advertisements featuring prominent models and actresses whose complexions have been airbrushed several shades lighter than their natural skin tone.

On its own, this is troubling enough. How are girls and young women with an undoubtedly wide range of skin tones supposed to develop a healthy self-image if their complexions exclude them from a very narrow definition of beauty? What health risks are they exposing themselves to if they’re constantly slathering themselves with bleach? Exactly whose idea of beauty is this anyway?

A new, particularly troubling product aimed at lightening women’s genital areas only adds to the imbroglio. The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan describes an ad for the new cream:

A couple sits on a sofa. The husband reads a paper ignoring his beautiful wife: her face, a picture of rejection…

Moments later, this scene of spurned love turned soapy when the leading lady was seen taking a shower.

But–she wasn’t using any ordinary shower gel. No, she was using a skin lightening wash, which, as the graphic which then popped up on screen informed the viewer, would lighten her genitals.

After an application of said fairness cream, rose petals appear on the screen, and just like the ending of a good old Bollywood film, the couple are seen happily embracing.

So…not only are women supposed to have alabaster brows, delicately porcelain shoulders, and creamy, sweeping legs, but their nether-regions need to be flawlessly fair as well? Or they’re not desirable? Even by their husbands, who hopefully value them for something other than their appearance??

Unfortunately, this ad seems like it goes far beyond the fairness = beauty argument. It’s tying women’s worth directly and exclusively to their sexual potential, and not even their own sexual potential, but their ability to sexually please their male partners. If they don’t comply with what is arousing and desirable to men–in this case having a creamy colored pubic area — it seems they aren’t worth a second glance. Women, therefore, should strive for beauty not for their own sake (that would just be silly), but solely for the pleasure of their male counterparts. Not exactly a new idea, but nevertheless not the best message to send to adolescent girls trying to develop a sense of self. At least therapists in India won’t have to worry about their job security any time soon.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

 

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Photo Credit: zandura577

173 comments

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

we can't be hating on them for whitening THEIR skin when we are darkening ours. creams, spray ons, tanning beds. every country has weird beauty practices.. (think china and small feet, some african tribes with the long necks ect)

Lauren Graham
Lauren Goldman3 years ago

I love the feeling of the sun on my skin, in moderation, and as a result, I tan. It certainly has nothing to due with what men like. In fact, being Lesbian, nothing about my life has anything to do with men, so I find this whole mindset of living one's life for men's acceptance to be sad and dangerous, on so many levels.

I see where advertisements are once again pushing under leg deodorants for women. Just another way to keep us feeling that there is something wrong with our bodies and to keep us always feeling insecure. Our bodies are fine just the way they are.

Jessica Larsen
Janne O.3 years ago

"If we are going to be disgusted by these Indians trying to lighten their skin, than we should be equally disgusted for americans trying to darkern their skin through tanning."

Amen, Emily W

char l.
Past Member 3 years ago

The ad sounds like it was stolen from one of the old 1940s ads for Lysol as a douche product. Ick!

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

Very disturbing...

Victoria L.
Victoria L.3 years ago

Very upsetting...

tiffany t.
tiffany t.4 years ago

this cannot be good for your skin esp, sensitive areas : O I say put it in his face and it is hard to deny!

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch4 years ago

Ewwwwwwww. No thank you.

Vicki F.
Vicki F.4 years ago

All I can say is Wow....

Emily Wei
Emily Wei4 years ago

If we are going to be disgusted by these Indians trying to lighten their skin, than we should be equally disgusted for americans trying to darkern their skin through tanning.

In india and other middle eastern countries, dark skin is looked down upon (whereas in the USA its light skin). In the middle eastern areas, dark skin is a symbol of a worker or farmer (somebody who, in history, would be darkened by the dirt and mud they worked in). The rich had the lighest skin due to cleanliness, and thus the idea was born that light skin should be considered more beautiful than dark.