We have all seen the Summer’s Eve ads that show the women who lack confidence and power because she feels like she doesn’t smell fresh “down there.” The announcer in the ad makes sure to emphasize “down there” as it is Area 51. The unknown. All of a sudden, the timid, unsure woman douches and boom! She can now take over the world, run a marathon, without stopping, through a field of lilies, get that desired promotion and never smell un-fresh …down there. Back in time, women who are now the age of my mother and grandmother, were told, by their mothers and grandmothers that irrigating their vaginas with flowery scented water would prevent and treat infections, clean them up after sex and refresh them after their menstrual cycles. Quite the contrary, shooting that scented power water in your lady region can cause more harm than good. Douching is not medically required because a healthy vagina has a self cleansing system. Ahhh…the power of the V. Douching has been linked to a greater risk of STIs and infertility. Is that promotion and the ability to run a marathon through wild grass worth it?
Historically, douching has been a part of the Black and Latina woman rites of passage for a long time. We have been told to douche because you don’t want to “smell funky.” The experience has been passed down generationally and unfortunately some of us don’t know any different. It doesn’t help that this is what we have been taught and we trust that our elders would never intentionally hurt us. It doesn’t help that the ads are directed towards us to conform to societal beauty norms. Several studies have shown that Black and Latina women have the tendency to use douches and other feminine deodorants more often than women of any other race. Black and Latina women have also experienced bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections at greater rates than any other ethnic group. Recently, I read this powerful article entitled, An Odor of Racism: Vaginal Deodorants in African American Beauty Culture and Advertising by Michelle Ferranti. Ferranti discusses how marketing douches tapped into our insecurities regarding personal odors post slavery. She states, “For many recently emancipated African Americans, a clean and odor free body signified personal progress and enterprise and the hope for racial assimilation. Powerful.
What makes douching so harmful for our bodies? Environmental Health reported that women who douched regularly had an incredibly high amount of Phthalates (pronounced thal-lates) in their urine. For this particular study, twenty percent of Black women reported douching at least twice a month, compared to seven percent of the white and Latina participants. Phthalates are industrial chemicals that can change how our hormones react in our bodies. Phthalates are especially disruptive to reproductive and thyroid hormones. This chemical is harsh for women in the reproductive age group because of the harm to the womb.
Proctor & Gamble own approximately 40 percent of the feminine hygiene market. They, my friends, are the real douchebags. Even after these studies have proven that douching can have some harmful side effects, these products are still on the market, using the same chemical ingredients. We refuse to talk candidly about douching. After all this time, we as a society, are uncomfortable discussing the idea of objects going into or around the vagina. We need to demand that these products have health disclosures on their packaging. Advocacy groups everywhere are concerned about the chemicals in our foods and in the air. We have to get concerned about the toxins that are put into our feminine hygiene products. If we wont, no one will. There are natural feminine washes available for purchase on the market. Healthy Hoohoo and Organyc Certified Intimate Wash can be purchased on Amazon. Throw those Summer’s Eve bottles out and make more conscious and informed choices about what you use in your lady region. Let Proctor & Gamble know that you care about your health and well being!
For more information on natural remedies for vaginal odor, check out: Eliminate BV Odor Naturally With…
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