Tight and bright vaginas are a thing in India. On April 12, 2012, I wrote about a vaginal wash called ‘Clean and Dry Intimate Wash’ that promised a brighter and cheerier vagina. Now comes a vaginal tightening gel called ‘18 Again’ which makes its user “feel like a virgin.” The cream, of course, is not an Indian invention but an import from the West. The cloak of cheery familial social approval that it is draped in, of course, seems unique to this particular commercial.
I first saw the reference to this cream, courtesy of friend Sharad Bailur, on an online news network called The Young Turks whose acronym, ironically, is TYT. But that is not the point. The point is about this commercial which on the scale of getting the message across effectively scores top grades. However, in terms of what it is selling I remain conflicted somewhere between Damn! and Meh.
The situation is that a young couple, living as part of a large joint family in a lovely traditional home, suddenly breaks into song and dance before the man leaves for work. How do I know that he is off to work? Well, it is elementary my dear Watson. She is carrying a gleaming multistoried steel tiffin (lunchbox) and is about to hand it to him before she breaks into a song that goes, “ Ooh, I feel like a virgin”. This is in front of the full house, including a boy getting ready to go to school.
It is a very well shot commercial with strong production values. The makers check all the boxes in terms of conveying their client’s overarching message, which is that a tight vagina is a great vagina because that’s how men like it. There is no mention of whether the dude in the commercial has any erectile issues but then he is an Indian dude and how can he possibly have that? He has the entire force of the male civilization behind him to pump him up.
Tight vaginas have been coveted by men whose idea of how life should be is rather basic. Since the wife is no longer a virgin—hello! she is his wife—it falls on her to look for ways to mimic virginity. That is where ‘18 Again’ is sold as working wonders. So much so that even the older woman, presumably the young virgin-like woman’s mother-in-law, also surreptitiously checks out the gel’s website by keying www on the laptop as her decrepit but now excited husband looks on even as his jowl practically teases his groin (Literary exaggeration).
The commercial’s makers ensure that all the right innuendoes have been thrown in, including a shot of the young couple towards the end grabbing one of the glistening, tumescent pillars. There are also red chilies put out to dry. In case the morons among the viewers do not catch the drift of it all, the commercial ends with an animated flower folding its petals back to being a bud. The voiceover says, “Feel like a virgin, 18 Again, vaginal tightening and rejuvenating gel.”
As commercials go, this is very well done. Ad filmmakers are not expected to be burdened by social conscience. Theirs is to sell and not wonder “Well..” over whether it should be acceptable to hawk a vaginal gel only so that the men get the gift of eternal virginity. It is an unabashedly sexist enterprise where womenfolk get willingly coopted by breaking into song and dance for having accomplished something their men expect, namely tight vaginas. It is a weird mixture of tradition—a large joint family and the young wife, looking as if she has just emerged from a particularly luxurious session at her salon even though she brining the multistoried lunchbox from the kitchen—and fake liberal outlook as in the sanction to not just use a vagina tightening gel but openly sing about it in the family courtyard. The message appears to be to tell the woman, “As long as you serve me freshly cooked meals and a tight vagina I am willing to go to work and dance.”
Separately, it did make me wonder what the women in this family use the kitchen for—cook or apply vaginal gels or both? Also, did she use the gel before or after lovingly cooking the meal?