MY FAIR VAGINA
An intimate wash advertisement extends the frontiers of fairness to erogenous zones. Has it gone too far?
Awoman sits forlorn in the living room, sipping tea as her husband buries himself in the newspaper, as if completely oblivious of her existence. She’s evidently quite attractive; if not a spitting image of Bollywood queen Katrina Kaif, at least a poor man’s Katrina. Then what explains such disinterest? Hold your breath. It’s apparently because her private parts aren’t clean and don’t match her fair and lovely face. A dash to the shower and a splash of Clean & Dry Intimate Wash. And happy days are here again.
It all started with your face. Then they took over your neck, legs, underarms. And now, pharmaceutical companies have decided that there’s one more thing that’s just not fair enough for yourself or your man—your vagina. The Clean & Dry advertisement, which began airing in March, has kicked up a storm for extending the frontiers of fairness to erogenous zones. Cyberia is particularly angry. “Now everyone has to be insecure about the fact that their vaginas happen to be the colour that vaginas are??? Splendid! God, I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it,” posted writer Lindy West on women’s blog Jezebel. One of the less abusive comments about the advert on Youtube reads, “Isn’t it weird that white people are obsessed with tanned skin, while Indians (who already have that perfect brown color) are obsessed with fair skin. Why can’t we just all be happy with the skin colour we already have?”
The ‘fairness’ industry has long been huge in India, what with Indians’ obsession with lighter skin. Bollywood has more than done its bit to promote the ‘fairness’ culture, with actors like Genelia D’souza, Asin, Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham repeatedly endorsing such products. The subtext is that life’s better if you’re fair. And many Indians believe so. The body of evidence is irrefutable: At Rs 900 crore, the fairness cream business constitutes 47 per cent of the Rs 2,000
The subtext is that life’s better if you’re fair. And many Indians believe so: The fairness cream business is worth Rs 900 crore.
crore skincare products’ industry.
But have they gone too far by equating a fairer vagina to a happier life? “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner, fairer,” claims the product page online. Sananda Chakraborty, 27, a housewife from Kolkata, says she might try it. “I have been using fairness creams every day for the past five years, so why not?” she says. Roshni Singh, 27, a Bangalore-based web developer, also thinks the product is a good idea. “It indicates people’s willingness to try new things. It shows that the Indian market is opening up, along with the people’s minds,” she says. Singh has been using fairness creams since 2006. Would she use Clean & Dry herself? “I won’t use it. I don’t think I need to,” she says.
Clean & Dry manufacturer Midas Care says the product is more about keeping the vagina clean than fair. “Skin in private areas, just like elbows and knees, can be a little darker than the regular body shade for some,” a company spokesperson emailed
INDIA TODAY. It further said that the advertisement does not show the female getting rejected and that the product has been received positively and a lot of women have thanked the company for “catering to their most intimate needs”.
Sheela Kuruvilla, a dermatologist at the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, says, “I’ve seen patients who get rashes or other allergic reactions on using fairness creams.” She, too, wonders why there is a necessity to make the vagina fairer. “Your skin gets darker on being exposed to the sun and it can only return to your original skin colour, it can’t get fairer,” she adds. “Having a clean, dry vagina is great... but why should it be fair?” asks Anupama Srinivasan, 30, of Prajnya, a Chennai-based NGO dealing with women’s rights. Why indeed!
THE CLEAN & DRYADVERTISEMENT