The New—and Disturbing—Trend of Lightening Women’s Nether Regions

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Sex & Relationships.


From the Clean and Dry Intimate Wash commercial (pre-bleaching)

By Rachel Khona

Personally I’ve never been one to subscribe to the idea that there’s anything wrong with my vagina. Or vaginas in general. I don’t worry if it’s smells funny, (I do shower after all) if the lips are too long, or it’s not tight enough. In fact, I even allowed a guy to go down on me while riding the crimson wave. It’s a vagina for fuck’s sake; it’s functional. It’s not a secondary sex characteristic like boobs. By the time a guy is down there, chances are he’s pretty stoked that he has a naked woman in front of him to begin with. Being upset about an errant hair or variant shade of color would be like going to Disneyland and complaining that Mickey has some lint on his outfit.

But a new company in India does think there’s something wrong with vaginas. They’re too damn brown.

A company in India recently launched a new product called Clean and Dry Intimate Wash. In the ad for the product, a couple are together in the living room with the woman looking longingly at her man. Meanwhile his hunkiness distractedly drinks his (very dark, foreshadowing anyone?) coffee. She then discovers Clean and Dry Intimate Wash a product which actually…bleaches her vagina! Clearly her man wasn’t into her before, because she had a nasty brown vag. After taking care of her icky cooch, he is suddenly infatuated with her swinging her around and flirting. You know what that means. Bowchickabowwow! Problem solved!

It’s true that Indians do have an obsession with all things light-skinned or “fair” as they call it. In fact, when my parents got married my mother’s in-laws were impressed not with the fact that she recently graduated med school, but that she was “fair.” Of course, there are many socio-economic reasons behind this whack phenomenon. For example having lighter skin often means you’re not a laborer spending all your time in the sun. Just as in the Western world having tan skin can suggest you live a life of Paris Hilton-esqe leisure basking about in the sun. It’s also a relic of the Arab and Aryan invasions of earlier centuries, as well as the more recent British colonial rule.

But why pick on vaginas? Why is skin bleaching only marketed towards women and their lady parts?

India has been marketing fair creams for ages, (one that my friend Mina tried in high school to no avail), but a lightening cream for a woman’s nether regions certainly sets a new precedent in making women feel like crap about their bodies. Women have douches, waxes, labioplasty, hymen reinstating, (tres popular in the middle east!) and now bleaching? I wondered pray tell, where are the products to beautify men? Penises aren’t all pretty. They’re not always uniformly colored, sometimes they’re crooked, sometimes they look veiny, and as all of us ladies and gay men have experienced, sometimes they’re too small.

Where’s the solution for all those problems? Why do I as a woman have to be forced to endure the hardship of looking at a discolored cock? The underlying message is the same one it’s been for centuries. Women are meant to be creatures capable of inciting sexual desire not the other way around. Should women have sexual desires they suddenly turn into sluts like Sandra Fluke or Madonna. Hypocrisy much?

So until someone comes up with a way to increase penis size, my vagina is staying the way it is.

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