Huda Kattan, founder of wildly popular beauty brand and Instagram account Huda Beauty, is at the center of controversy again, thanks to a shaming "vagina lightening" story posted to her beauty blog.
Hattan's critics and followers are pissed that such a huge figure in the beauty community would perpetuate ideas that are not only socially irresponsible, but also potentially harmful to the body.
The blog in question is called "Why Your Vagina Gets Dark And How To Lighten It." The first glaring issue is what a post like this says about dark skin overall.
The blog answered the question, "Why can the vagina be much darker than other areas of the body?"
Below is the answer, provided to the Huda Beauty team by NYC dermatologist Dr. Doris Day."The problem with vaginal skin is that it has the highest density of melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) than anywhere in the body. It’s an area where there can be a good amount of friction from walking and exercise."
This ENTIRELY ignores the fact that there are people out there who already have dark skin, whose vaginas were born dark, and will be dark forever. Dark skin, per usual, is positioned as undesirable instead of normal.
Kattan has been accused of colorism and insensitive pandering to dark-skinned people with her Huda Beauty brand in the past. While she may not have written this blog herself, she should know to be more careful with this subject at this point — after all, it's her name on this website.
Unfortunately, the "vagina lightening" blog gets way worse. The Huda Beauty team provides some fat-shaming commentary that blames having a darker vagina on a person's weight.
Because having a dark vag is so terrible, the post recommends you prevent it happening in the first place. The first listed way to do that? Kattan's blog recommends you, "Reach your ideal weight. Excess weight can lead to friction, which can cause darkening."
Way to fat shame *AND* vagina shame people at the same time!
Aside from the vagina, melanin, and fat shaming, the Huda Beauty blog included some contradictory advice in her list of lightening recommendations.
The second recommendation encourages people to "treat infections early," which is actually sound advice, until you move on to the third one.
"Moisturize," the third lightening tip reads. "Using a good moisturizer will help keep the skin healthy and optimized, which reduces darkening. Coconut oil is fine to use for this purpose."
But what moisturizer should be spread across your vaginal area other than the (hopefully gentle) soap or bath wash you regularly use? It definitely should NOT be coconut oil, which is far too heavy to use around the labia every day.
Adding too many products to your vagina (as recommended in this blog) can throw off the vagina's pH balance, which may encourage bacterial growth, which may lead to infection.
This "moisturize" tip totally clashes with the second tip encouraging you to tend to infections. In fact, if you follow tip #3, you'll be dealing with tip #2 WAY too often.
The most horrifying part of this entire vagina lightening blog is the "DIY lightening treatment" included at the end.
To be very clear: DIY vagina-lightening treatments do not work, and you should not try any of them. The dermatologist quoted in the story says as much.
But at the end of this story, the HudaBeauty.com throws in a totally unnecessary and potentially damaging vagina lightening DIY anyway.
"Although Doris is skeptical about DIY treatments, she believes the ingredients, coconut oil, and lemon juice, will be the most effective and safe," the blog reads.
Unless this dermatologist provided additional information to Huda Beauty's team that wasn't published, this appears to take Dr. Day's earlier comments out of context — her actual quote says lemon juice "won't do very much," and using coconut oil to brighten skin "would take years to see results."
The Huda Beauty team suggests you: "Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 10 drops of rose water, soak a cotton pad in the formula and squeeze out excess, gently wipe the external areas only (avoid your inner lady parts!), and let this sit for 2 to 4 minutes before rinsing off. Do this once a day, but if you notice a burning sensation or any redness and discomfort either straight away or over time, stop immediately. You can follow with coconut oil."
If you feel your vagina rejecting this advice already, it's understandable.
Actually, before you even get to the burning sensation of this lemon, rose water, and coconut oil concoction, you'd better be concerned.
Though lemons contain vitamin C, which can brighten skin, they are also highly acidic. That means that, especially on sensitive skin, lemon juice can cause chemical burns and hyperpigmentation.
That's right: Hyperpigmentation. Meaning your skin may get darker. So all the efforts to lighten your private region could be thwarted by the very DIY hack you are using to stop it.
Translation: Lemons are for Beyoncé albums and Arnold Palmer mixes, not your vagina.
People are appalled at the message this vagina lightening post sends about the desirability of women's bodies.
"@Hudabeauty you are telling women to bleach their vulvas with hydroquinone, lemon juice, and acides because a lighter vulva is better? Do you realize how poisonously harmful this is? fuck your homophobia, fuck your non-inclusivity, and FUUUUCK YOU."
Some consider Huda Kattan's support of lighter vaginas to be thinly veiled colorism.
"Disgusting. Who actually cares about this. Anyone privileged enough to see your vagina shouldn't be there if they care about its colour. It's also horribly racist. Would @hudabeauty care to answer why once again, whiter is better" another tweeter wrote.
Others see Huda Beauty as a symptom of a much larger cultural problem.
"I don't blame Huda," one person shared. "I blame the fact that we live in a society that expects women to be Barbie dolls! Love your vagina at any colour. The vagina is a magic wonderful portal to another dimension from which life is brought forth into this realm. Woohoo."
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