"Completely unnecessary and a bit sick coming from an 'influencer.'"
Popular beauty blogger Huda Kattan came under fire for publishing a post about tips on vagina lightening in terms of skin colour and why it can get dark.
The post titled “Why Your Vagina Gets Dark And How To Lighten It – Huda Beauty” sparked a lot of online criticism.
The established blogger and founder of the eponymous makeup line who has over 25 million followers on Instagram is known for her push for more diversity in the beauty industry but this blog post hit some wrong chords with followers and fans when it came to the issue of skin lightening female genitalia.
The post discusses that this is a common question about using a “DIY lightening hack” on “your lady parts?”
So based on their “digging online” they found some ‘DIY vagina lightening hacks’ which they reviewed with their dermatologist, Dr Doris Day, and say “finally, we’re busting myths on why lightning your lady parts with natural ingredients may not be working, and how you can actually improve it (if that’s what you want!)…”.
Topical Ingredients to Apply or Not
The question of using “lemon juice, yoghurt, coconut oil or egg white” to lighten the vagina is then asked.
To which the response given in the Huda’s post is:
“DIY options are really very limited for lightening. Lemon juice is one of the better options but really not a good one because I don’t think it will do very much. The idea behind yogurt is that it has lactic acid in, which is a mild exfoliant, but again not in a high enough concentration to make a difference to skin pigment. Egg white won’t do anything but may be helpful as a thickening agent, so the other ingredients don’t run all over the place. Coconut oil is fine to be used, it contains fatty acids and vitamin E that can brighten skin, but it would take years to see results.”
It seems that the “hacks” discussed in Huda’s post refer to the vulva (external part) more than the vagina, as one comment said reacting to the post:
“Very disappointed with the fact that the writer or blogger doesn’t know d difference between vagina and vulva.. Der z nothing known as vaginal skin.. D external part of female genitalia is known as vulva..”
Why is it Darker?
The blog post then asks “Why can the vagina be much darker than other areas of the body?”
To which the response is that “vaginal skin” has the “highest density of melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) than anywhere in the body” and that it is an area which has “a good amount of friction from walking and exercise.”
Then the next question in the post heavily focuses on the vagina lightening itself, saying “What can you do to lighten the color down there?”
The response first says it is better to avoid “hyperpigmentation (darkening)” than treating it but then provides the tips on how to lighten it.
The tips include reducing your weight because “Excess weight can lead to friction” which causes the darkening, to treat “yeast infections” early to avoid itching, using a “good moisturizer” for which “Coconut oil is fine to use” and to avoid “douches” to reduce irritation.
Finally, stating why it is important to see “your dermatologist” to get “a prescription brightening cream or chemical peel.”
Specific DIY Treatment
A specific “DIY lightening treatment” with the agreement of Dr Doris is provided at the end. Stating that the doctor’s approved ingredients of coconut oil and lemon juice are seen as the “most effective”.
The steps for the DIY procedure are provided which uses a mixture lemon juice and rose water to be applied daily and rinsed off.
The post immediately instigated a social media stir with readers not very happy with the post’s contents. Especially, because skin lightening is being discouraged especially in South Asian communities and the dangers of skin whitening creams are being hugely debated, even by Bollywood stars.
One Facebook user said:
“I don’t need this sort of bullshit in my feed. Unfollowing this page, because the darkening of the vagina is the most natural thing ever.
“And I don’t want to feel abnormal because a change is happening to my privates NATURALLY and how to make it look more easy on the eye for the ‘male gaze’ by altering its natural course. Screw you.”
“You need to help women be happy with how they are. Why should women change themselves. This is not a positive article.”
Many negative comments left on the post by readers. Response included:
“So a ‘lighter’ everything is preferred to ‘dark’ …. ?? Even in 2018.”
“Gigantic FAIL – Shame on you Huda.”
“Love you but this is totally unnecessary and problematic. Now women have to lighten their genitals? This is reminiscent of colorism and racism. Women shouldn’t be expected to lighten any part of their skin. I wish you wouldn’t post stuff like this. Skin whitening is really bad.”
“This made me cringe, why would you advocate this? Disgusting.”
“You’re encouraging a very sick standard of “beauty.” Encourage women to love themselves as they are – particularly in areas that aren’t visible! It’s one thing to conceal dark under-eye circles. It’s another thing to promote the notion that lighter is better “down there.” Completely unnecessary and a bit sick coming from an “influencer.”
The blog post does have an ‘UPDATE’ on it which was added after it was published in April 2018, which reacted to the controversy caused, saying:
“Hey guys, we wanted to address some concern over this topic. We appreciate and respect everyone’s opinions on this subject and want to express that we do not feel lightening your vulva (vagina/ lady parts/ VJJ,) is necessary. Our goal is to give details for those who may wish to, by sharing expert advice from a leading dermatologist. We’ve seen a lot of harmful DIYs on the internet, so we hope this post provides the best information on the topic and offers safe ways for people to do this, should they wish to.”
With the popularity and pressure to look fairer and whiter even in 2018, it is definitely not showing progress on how women are being perceived. Especially now, if a beauty post like this has even gone as far as giving tips on lightening the female genitals.