Labia to dye for

There are many things 21st century women lie awake in the middle of the night worrying about. War. Terminal illness. Global warming and future generations. Cellulite, occasionally. But it had honestly never occurred to me that any of us might lose sleep over whether our genitalia are a sufficiently aesthetic hue.

Purveyors of inessential products are relentlessly inventive in manufacturing new anxieties for which they have the remedy.

“My New Pink Button” is the beauty industry’s latest such offering to women:  a “genital cosmetic colorant” designed by a “certified paramedical esthetician” no less, that restores the youthful pink to labia tragically faded by age, childbirth, genetics or life.

You can choose from: Bettie, for that "sexy hot pink, I am fired up, look"; Marilyn, for beginners nervous about anything more than a “slight fresh colour change”; Ginger, “to bring forth a real rosy tone”; or daring Audrey - a “bold burgundy”.   

I can’t find any information on the Button website about the product’s ingredients or potential risks, except that its effects are apparently temporary and not tested on animals. The retailers are admittedly brave enough to include some consumer reviews, which, apart from a couple of unprintably sleazy comments from apparently appreciative males, are along the lines of the following:

“Really? Now we're supposed to be dyeing our **** in chemicals to be sexier? On top of Brazilian waxes, we now have another useless and probably painful (and probably unsafe) step to take in order to get us closer to our pre-pubescent forms. How totally offensive, absurd, and disgusting.”

I am 21 years old and have not had a child nor am I on hormonal birth control. I do not match any of the youthful/pinkish tones on the packages of any of the dyes. Is there something wrong with me? No, I'm just not white! This product's use of the words "restore" and "youthful hue" to describe the bubblegum-pink of the idealized white woman's vulva is damaging to the sexual confidence of all non-white women. When I emailed the company about their wording, they said "you shouldn't take this so seriously." Not serious, eh?. One of the side-effects is possible burning and pain - make your vulva all pink and irritated, so sexy and not-serious.”

“Remember, girls: when your man comes home after a long, hard day of standing around the water cooler telling dirty jokes and ogling the secretaries, he deserves the hottest, most ultra-conformist woman he can find. You owe it to him to be as superficially perfect as you can! Buy My New Pink Button today!”

We’d really like to know your thoughts too:  is this yet another ludicrous way to feed into women’s insecurities about their appearance, or does this product have some sort of redeeming value? Join the debate below.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, Health24, updated August 2011

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