Forget about skin lightening creams which have made otherwise dark women “fair”.
One can be forgiven for thinking that Beyoncé Knowles is white or Mai Azuka is Asian. In recent years, being dark-skinned has proven to be a choice as women can now easily “change” their complexion.
Recently, there was a “hip craze” which was inspired by popular Colombian musician Shakira of My Hips Don’t Lie fame. Ladies queued to get hip-enlarging pills and most preferred the ones known as “Apétito”.
The latest craze that has caused a stir in Harare is breast-enlargement creams and vagina-tightening soaps and lotions. Most shops which sell cosmetics are well-stocked with these products. Sellers of the products said they are making a killing owing to great demand.
“Our boss always goes to Nigeria or China to bring these products every week. They are the most sought-after products these days,” said a shop assistant along Robert Mugabe Road.
Many women in the city centre said they had at one time tried the products, but most of them were sceptical about the after effects.
A young woman who identified herself as Tiara said she had to buy tightening creams because her boyfriend has always insisted on marrying a virgin.
“My boyfriend is very traditional and he always makes a huff about this virginity thing. My friend introduced me to these soaps and I must say they worked for me.
He never discovered that I was not a virgin,” she confessed.
Another woman said she always wanted to have an “appealing” cleavage so she was tempted to use the breast-enhancing creams.
“My breasts were (size) 34A cups, but after using the lotions I have grown to be 34C cups and now I can walk with confidence,” she said.
During a recent media briefing held by SafAids for local scribes, a female journalist indeed acknowledge that the lotions and soaps were fast becoming popular.
“These things are there and are selling like hot bread,” she said.
Mavis Nyamayaro, a doctor by profession and gender activist, said the high demand for these products showed the lengths to which women often go to please males.
“What has taken us by surprise is the growing demand for these breast-enlarging and vagina-tightening creams. What was once termed as an elitist product for only those in Hollywood or in the high society has slowly eased its way into the groups of common women wanting to increase breast size naturally.
“And as the demand grew, inevitably the number and volume of suppliers too grew in parallel. This made it easier for counterfeit products to creep in, some of them with side effects,” she said.
“Breast enhancement creams can have serious side effects, especially if you have not opted for authentic breast creams like the Triacol Bust Serum, an authorised natural breast enlargement supplement.
Depending on the users’ skin tissues and texture, using breast enhancement serum regularly may cause mild irritation or rash on the skin. However, these are temporary and cease to exist as soon you stop using the creams.”
Tanaka Muporonga said women who used products, especially vaginal tightening creams, were being selfish.
“Women should be genuine and truthful. It is better for one to be open and tell her partner that she’s not a virgin so they get tested for HIV before they start a family, rather than to cover up with these lotions,” he said.
Ambuya Tauro of Highfield said it was acceptable that women enhance their beauty through beads, plaiting hair and using rings, but it was taboo to try to “restore” virginity through use of strange lotions.
“Women used to wear beads as a sign of beauty and chastity, some would even have small incisions on their faces (nyora) depending on the culture and tradition of their tribe, but this tightening cream craze is shocking and disgusting; it is not good as it promotes promiscuity. What happened to our culture and tradition?” she said.
Human rights activist Pardon Taodzera said these issues were a result of a patriarchal society and the way people were socialised.
“We were made to believe that men should be macho hence many men go to the gym and women are made to believe that they must be beautiful so that they can gain social acceptance and increase self- confidence; that is why they try almost everything to look sexy and attractive,” he said.
Harare-based medical practitioner Mlungisi Ndebele expressed concern about the fact the lotions and creams were smuggled into the country and were not laboratory tested in Zimbabwe.
“There are a lot of side effects of these lotions, which I prefer to call drugs. They have components that interfere with the metabolism of the body.
“We had a complicated case this year of a woman who applied these lotions and she had to go for surgical operation because the one breast had become firmer and larger compared to the other,” he said.
Ndebele said use of the suspicious lotions could lead to skin irritation and skin cancer.
“These products need to be registered and regulated before being applied by people and those who sell the lotions should also enlighten prospective clients of the possible after effects,” he added.