A vaginal whitening wash has hit the market in Thailand – promising to make your privates “safely fairer within four weeks”.
An ad for Lactacyd White Intimate shows an attractive, fair-skinned woman sorrowfully lamenting how “everyone wants to look good – but tight shorts can leave your skin darker.”
Never fear though, for this little miss has been vigilantly whitening her vagina – and to prove her point, off she bounds in a miniscule, skin-tight pair of white shorts.
Online literature for the product ominously informs us: “Sweat and excessive friction from tight clothing can darken the skin around the intimate area, causing self-consciousness, decreased confidence or inhibiting intimacy.”
So far so absurd, but in a world where cosmetics companies promise to “brighten” and even tighten our vaginas, little white vulvas appear to be big business.
Take India’s 18 Again “tightening and rejuvenating” cream, advertised through the medium of song and dance.
Featuring an attractive woman in a pink sari, the message sees her crooning "oooh I feel like a virgin" as she dances through a courtyard, outraging her elders as she sings of her newly acquired "tightness".
Our heroine meets with her sweetheart, squealing "oooh yes it's true!", to which he replies "oooh yes you do!"
She then appears to borrow a line from Madonna as she trills, presumably in reference to their love-making, "feels like the very first time".
The exuberant jig continues as a voiceover announces the product.
Salsa dancing with delight at the condition of one's vagina may raise eyebrows among some, but Rishi Bhatia, chairman and managing director of Ultratech India, insists the message is an empowering one.
He told Campaign India: "18 Again is a first-of-its-kind product for women in India. This product is being launched in India post clinical trials conducted amongst women of all age groups under dermatological control.
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"18 Again has the power and the potential to break the shackles and redefine the meaning of women empowerment altogether."
The advert was received as an uncomfortable nod to the hierarchy of skin tone in India’s social caste system.
Dalits, formerly known as the Untouchables, are said to be the bottom of the social hierarchy and are often ostracised and forced into menial jobs.
Brahmins are generally considered to be the highest caste group, although laws banning discrimination on these terms have failed to make much difference.
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Benson & Hedges