Some time late last year, while I was vacationing in the US, a media kit arrived at my parents’ place, and my mum texted me a photo of it saying, “Someone sent you masks for your crotch.”
You see, I’ve been writing for a very long time now, and my mother, who has long been tasked to open my packages while I’m away, is pretty much unfazed with the things I’ve received. That is, until she saw vulva sheet masks by a Singaporean brand. Let’s just say my vagina just about sealed up and folded itself back into my abdominal cavity when I saw that photo.
Not because I don’t want to talk vulvas with my mother. I’m all about grooming. Go to the waxer’s, get laser hair removal done if you want to. I’m even all on board with this whole self-care situation we’ve been preaching these days. Do your downward dog, see a therapist, take a bath, eat the whole all-gluten, full-fat chocolate cake if you want to, but here’s the thing — I really don’t think self care should include women needing one more thing to stress about.
My vulva has existed for almost 33 years now without ever needing a mask that “soothes, detoxifies, brightens and moisturises”. It is natural for the vaginal area to change over time. Things like friction from your skinny jeans, to hormonal changes and even pregnancy can affect how things look and feel in your nether regions but the vagina is an amazing self-cleaning machine and when it comes to the vulva, keeping things as simple as possible is the healthiest for it.
While this-said sheet mask contains relatively non-irritating ingredients, two of it — ethyl-ascorbic acid and dipotassium glycyrrhizate — may cause irritation to some people. Do you really want to be scratching your crotch like you have pubic lice in public? No? I thought so.
The same brand has launched a brightening serum for your crotch too recently. Of course, I find myself wondering who are these women who find the hyperpigmentation in their genital area so offensive that they’d part with hard earned dollars to lighten it. Does your vagina work better when it’s fairer? I don’t think so. Are they porn stars who have their bits blown up on screen? Maybe, but they must not be the only ones driving this industry.
In the porn industry, actresses are chosen for the colour of their privates, and they regularly bleach them to get the skin lighter. So while men are mainly seeing those types of privates in porn and women who watch porn internalise these bodies, they both start seeing it as desirable. Between men who start shaming their partners who don’t look like the women in porn, and women themselves subjecting their poor crotches into unrealistic expectations, how did we come to a point where the human body’s natural skin pigmentation becomes something that is considered disgusting?
Of course, this brand is not the only culprit in the ladybits lightening industry, or as I like to call it, the “oh crap we’re running out of ways to make women insecure about their bodies to sell them shit they don’t need” industry. Without a doubt, this also goes back to colourism. Many cultures are obsessed with paleness to the point where people will willingly harm their bodies and skin just to achieve it.
For anybody who’s ever considered lightening your crotch, or subjecting it to a mask it doesn’t need, let me remind you that anybody with a uterus will get an average of 500 periods in their lifetimes. That’s about 2500 days, with almost 43 litres of blood loss. That is equivalent to how much blood there is in nine adult human bodies.
Your crotch is a powerhouse. Leave it alone and buy yourself some full-fat cake instead.
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