Joanna Schroeder wonders if men are as much pawns in the beauty industry’s manipulation as women are.
Last night Jezebel had this story on their front page:
I laughed so hard my husband actually asked if I was okay. I answered, “I’m fine. It’s just reading about vagina bleaching”. He rolled his eyes. Just another day at the home-office with his wife…
But men… We need to talk. I think you guys are getting a bad rap here. The world is telling women that the only way men are truly going to love them is if their vulva (I’m sorry, Jezebel, but the vagina is just the actual canal, the vulva is the whole shebang) looks like a perfect little peach—sans fuzz.
Over on She Said He Said (the sex and dating advice blog I write with my writing partner, Eli) we’ve dealt with this problem before. A guy wrote in telling us that his girlfriend wanted to bleach her anus. The man was perplexed:
…My girlfriend is a high school teacher, and as far as I know, she doesn’t have a secret job as a porn-star or stripper. I don’t think she has an inordinate amount of people staring at her butt or butthole. Personally, I don’t know much about anal bleaching, and the little I do know just confuses me. Why would people go through the trouble to bleach an area that so few others see?
Eli and I were perplexed too. As much as I want women to have complete freedom to do what they want to feel sexy, to feel pretty, to feel… I don’t know… bleached, I think we need to examine this next (seemingly excruciatingly painful) step toward reaching some weird standard of beauty and figure out exactly why we’re doing it… Because I truly believe that women suffer in the thought that their bodies are naturally just repulsive to men.
Of course, Jezebel agrees with me that all this bleaching is just a bit over-the-top:
Basically the idea is to get as far away as possible from any color that vaginas actually come in. Because that’s what’s at the heart of this type of thinking—the perfect vagina would be something that’s not a vagina at all.
Jezebel writer, Lindy West doesn’t put the blame squarely on men, but on society as a whole. And since this product Lindy West is talking about is actually from India (see the amazing video West and Jezebel found, below), marketed at Indian women, it becomes an issue of race and ethnicity as well. Though please note that while the guy in the ad is as fair-skinned as the lady, this product isn’t also being marketed to lighten his nut sack, though it would probably work just as well for that.
So that leads me to the bum rap (I just made a pun about butts) that I think you men are getting from all this bleaching-vaginoplasty-waxing thing. While some guys might like to see more skin and less hair, and while some ladies may need vaginoplasty for comfort, or prefer hairlessness for pleasure, I bet a lot of this comes down to miscommunication.
We think you don’t like our general vagine-icinity being flesh-colored, or vulva-shaped. We think you don’t want our butts to look like lady-butts, we think you want them to look like mannequin-butts. What are we basing this upon?
I know there are probably men who want their girlfriends to be bleached, maybe they think it’s cleaner? But a part of me thinks this is a big, ridiculous plot by the beauty industry to make money off women’s insecurities and the stereotype that men are shallow and obsessed with porn.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like we all—men and women—are pawns in this nasty little game being played by the beauty industry.
What do you think? Are men getting a bad rap when it comes to the beauty ideals set for women?
Photo of closeup on bottle of laundry bleach courtesy of Shutterstock.