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Oh, the lengths that we will go…

I’d actually stumbled upon them by accident. I had been researching unusual household gadgets made in Asia, when links to pages featuring beauty gadgets popped up.

Curious, I clicked on them, only to be led down the rabbit hole to a “wonderland” of the wackiest beauty inventions. And by wonderland, I mean you “wonder” why and who could have ever concocted such contraptions?

It is no secret that skin lightening products are commonly used in Asia. As a young journalist attached to the women’s desk back in my native Malaysia, they were often the target of my ire, mostly because of their outrageous advertisements that insidiously sowed seeds of insecurity amongst women about their appearance. Oftentimes, they skewed towards women’s marriage ability or attractiveness to men.

It was only as I continued clicking this time I realized that my awareness of unorthodox beauty products barely scratched the surface.

A particular eye opener was a nose straightener.

If you can’t afford proper rhinoplasty (nose reshaping surgery), there are DIY products you can use in the comfort of home that promise straighter, higher, less round noses.

Health practitioners however have warned against devices. While in most instances the one that suffers the most injury is your wallet, in extreme circumstances these products can interfere with the natural development of the nose cartilage, cause permanent bruising, deformities and scars, infections or even lead to death.

Then there is the face slimming mouth muscle tightener. Yes, the name itself is a mouthful, and perhaps repeatedly enunciating this alone might achieve the product’s promised effect.

Made of flexible silicone rubber, it is a mould that fits in the mouth behind the teeth and is attached to oversized sugar-pink lips, making you uncannily resemble a blow-up doll. Once the mouthpiece is in place, you are instructed to run through a series of facial expressions you usually make when enunciating the five vowel sounds. Repetition as well as resistance provided by the mouthpiece will exercise your facial muscles, thereby toning the face, relaxing wrinkles and firming saggy skin. Three minutes of this daily, and you’ll skin as smooth as a Ken doll.

While discussing these products with an incredulous female colleague, a male colleague played the devil’s advocate by asking, “But what if there are people who swear by such products? It is their right to use them, isn’t it?”

He does have a point – especially when it concerns freedom of choice. However, I do take offence to was the subliminal message in almost all the advertising that featured only female models or that targeted insecurities typically related to the female form or appearance. They don’t even mask (yes, pun intended) their gender bias.

Like nipple pinkening patches or creams. Yes, your eyes are not fooling you. Through regular use these patches gently slough off or lighten the dark skin of the nipples, which the advertisements helpfully explain could be the result of age, hormonal changes or sun exposure. Regular use of either such patches or a cream will turn those “eyesores” on your upper body a youthful pink.

It was then that I decided I’d had enough of wonderland. Because sometimes, in my view at least, you just have to be content with what you see in the looking glass.

Author: Brenda Haas

Editor: Marjory Linardy



To line or not to line, that is my decision

The first time my German mum-in-law saw some childhood pictures of mine, she’d asked incredulously, “Wow, you used eyeliner even as a baby?” (From February 13, 2017)

Under the knife in the name of Beauty

Each year, around ten million cosmetic surgery procedures are performed worldwide. And approximately 300,000 people go under the knife in Germany. Here are their ten most popular choices. (From December 12, 2015)

“Beauty Beyond Skin”

Mr. Albinism Kenya: ‘Finally we achieved something.’ Kenya has just crowned its first ever Mr. and Miss Albinism. In a region where people living with albinism live in fear of ritual killings, the beauty pageant offered a rare chance for them to show their talents. (From October 29, 2016)



15.03.2017 | 17:04