Hell hath no fury like a woman scammed into believing there is something wrong with her body.
It’s the reason why I’m feeling particularly frosty towards Kourtney Kardashian at the moment.
The eldest Kardashian sister recently launched a supplement that she claims can boost the health of your vagina and… improve its taste.
The gummy product is called ‘Lemme Purr’, which may sound like an innocent brand of cat treats but the reality is far more disturbing.
It’s a vitamin supplement designed as a solution to a problem that simply doesn’t exist, and gives women yet another thing to feel self-conscious about.
We know the Kardashians are no strangers to exploiting women’s insecurities. The sisters have collectively promoted diet pills, appetite-suppressant lollipops and waist-trainers to their young female fanbase for years, but this latest venture is part of a worrying trend of misinformation and manipulative marketing taking aim at our vaginas.
Vaginal health is ‘not talked about enough’ says Kourtney in a caption on her Instagram page advertising ‘Lemme Purr’ and she’s not wrong. Stigma around gynaecological health means we rarely talk about sexually transmitted infections, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea or thrush.
But our Kourt isn’t trying to open up a conversation about shame, she’s trying to get us to open up our wallets to pay our way towards a ‘tastier’ vagina. Something that is impossible.
Doctors responding on social media and in the press were quick to point out that vaginas are actually self-cleaning, and that there is no reason anyone should be trying to ‘improve’ the flavour of their vulva.
‘We combined real pineapple and Vitamin C with the power of clinically-studied SNZ 1969 probiotics’, Kourtney explained of her product. While certain probiotics have been proven to support microbiomes that already exist in the vagina, the suggestion that pineapple extract can be used as some kind of flavour enhancer is baffling. It’s an example of yet another misogynistic trope that makes women feel that there is something wrong with their otherwise healthy bodies.
But Kourtney isn’t the only person peddling vaginal cleaning online, either.
I’ve recently seen social media adverts for ‘Yoni Pearls’, a product that is essentially a bag of herbs wrapped in mesh that is designed to be inserted into your vagina to help ‘detox’ it, like some sort of teabag/tampon hybrid.
The company selling them claims that the product can help with vaginal tightening, bacterial vaginosis and monthly womb maintenance (as if our body doesn’t already have its own mechanism for monthly womb maintenance!).
Photos of the product are shown alongside disturbing images of used Yoni Pearls covered in menstrual clots and discharge, with one company claiming that this was evidence of the pearls doing their job.
But inserting anything into your vagina for a prolonged period of time can actually cause the very damage the products claim to fix. It puts people at risk of toxic shock syndrome, and other side effects.
Another product being promoted on social media and by YouTube influencers is a pessary pill that is inserted into the vagina and claims to help with ‘smelly odour’, ‘vaginal tightening’, ‘detoxing an ex-lover’ and ‘overall vaginal reconnection’.
Once again, the misogynistic ‘smelly vagina’ narrative is being sold to women to make them think this is something they should address for cosmetic purposes, not to mention making women feel in some way dirty by suggesting they need to ‘clean’ themselves from remnants of their ex.
The more seasoned women among us might be able to spot a health scam when we see one, but the same can’t be presumed for younger female audiences who are constantly viewing these adverts and tutorial videos on social media. And from much-loved, household names like Kourtney Kardashian, too.
The proposed Online Safety Bill pledges to crackdown on misogynistic abuse of women online. But what exactly is being done to prevent the spreading of false, misogynistic health information to impressionable girls?
Our government might be getting tougher on online abuse and harassment (though there’s far more work to be done), but what about the more subtle, insidious rhetoric being spread about the female body and its functions?
I can only hope that social media platforms adopt tighter regulations on what can and can’t be shared online when it comes to misinformation about women’s health.
As for the Kardashians, I’m not completely against them – believe it or not. If they want to sell makeup or clothes to their millions of followers, then fair play. But they should leave so-called ‘health’ products to people who know what they’re talking about.
Telling women to turn our vaginas into tasty treats is nothing but tasteless capitalism.
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