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Want a Raise? Wash Your Vagina

Lissa Rankin's picture

OMG. You’ve got to be kidding. I just heard about a magazine ad that’s got me steaming mad. Check out this full page Summer’s Eve ad in Woman’s Day magazine. The title: “Confidence at Work: How to Ask For a Raise.” The very first suggestion in the eight tips on how to ask for a raise?

#1 Start with your usual routine and all the things you do to feel your best, including showering with Summer’s Eve feminine wash or throwing a packet of Summer’s Eve Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day.

Are you people serious?

As the author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, I’ve got something to say about this! Summer’s Eve approached me a few months back because they wanted to throw a boatload of money at me so I could be their spokesperson. Thank GODDESS I said I would do that when hell freezes over. What did I tell them? IT’S SUPPOSED TO SMELL LIKE PUSSY.

To quote my heroine Eve Ensler from the Vagina Monologues:

My vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already. Don’t try to decorate. Don’t believe him when he tells you it smells like rose petals when it’s supposed to smell like pussy. That’s what they’re doing – trying to clean it up, make it smell like bathroom spray or a garden. All those douche sprays – floral, berry, rain. I don’t want my pussy to smell like rain. All cleaned up like washing a fish after you cook it. I want to taste the fish. That’s why I ordered it.

Amen, sister! Take that, Summer’s Eve. What was all that mumbo jumbo you gave me back when you were trying to convince me to accept your money? Here’s a direct quote from the email you sent me:

The “tone” of the program is one that emphasizes female confidence and empowerment, taking charge of health and wellness and an overall love of being female!   An integral part of our efforts is a collaboration with a respected health professional to provide educational messaging for consumers.  Your breadth of expertise in a variety of women’s health issues, as well as your position on women’s empowerment and the down-to-Earth, woman-to-woman tone of your upcoming book makes us particularly interested in starting a dialog with you.

Shame. Shame. Shame on you. And thank you Universe for guiding me to turn away the money and decline this offer. How in the world does this ad “emphasize female confidence and empowerment?” I mean seriously, people.

My agent, whom I lovingly call “Monkey Barbara”, had this to say when this opportunity arose: "I don't want the word douchebag coming out of your mouth unless you're saying it to some guy who wants his girlfriend to douche!"

When I expressed my belief that douching is not only an offense to women everywhere but it also increases the risk of vaginal infections by washing away all the healthy, protective bacteria, Summer’s Eve assured me that their new campaign was not about douching at all. Instead, it was about healthy, pH balanced feminine cleansing. My answer to them? The vagina is a self-cleaning organism. And oh yeah -- it’s supposed to smell like pussy.

Why I’m Mad

Sure, I’m all for valuing your worth and asking for that raise. You work hard. You get to the office earlier than anyone else. You didn’t take that Fiji vacation you earned because of the deadline on that special project you tackled like nobody’s business. You’re creative in the boardroom, you know how to close the deal, and the boss just couldn’t do without you. So go ahead. Ask for that raise. You deserve it.

But seriously. Of all the ways they could guide you to step into your power, are they really suggesting that washing your vagina is the #1 most important step to getting that raise?

Here’s the problem. The very fact that they put this ad in a national woman’s magazine (and shame on you too Woman’s Day for running it!) just reinforces the insecurities most women have about the way they smell. It actually suggests that feminine odor might keep you from getting the raise you deserve. By running this ad, they’re placing yet another doubt in the back of your mind. Do I smell? Might my boss notice?

Back in the 1950’s, Lysol ran the same sort of fear-based campaign. As quoted in my book What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend Elissa Stein, author of Flow: A Cultural History of Menstruation says, “For years, they sold Lysol, the same bottle as the bathroom kitchen germ killer, as a douche. They launched a horrendous scare tactic ad campaign that assured women their husbands would leave them if they weren’t fresh and clean.”

How is this different? Now, instead of being divorced by your husband, you’ve gotta worry that you might not get that raise if you don’t freshen up your vagina with one of those feminine cleansing cloths right before you march in there and demand more money? I mean, seriously people. You gotta be kidding me.

Here’s the scoop (a quote from What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend ):

The vagina is a self-cleaning organism. Shoving it full of things meant to make you smell like a bouquet of flowers does more harm than good by washing out the vagina’s normal bacteria, allowing bad bacteria to overpopulate the delicate environment and increasing the risk of vaginal infections. Some people can’t even tolerate using soap or bath gel on their private parts, since it can lead to itching, burning, and vaginal infections. Believe it or not, warm water on a soft washcloth is all you need to keep yourself clean. And who wants to wash away those delicious pheromones anyway?

So sure, take a shower before you ask for that raise, but deodorizing your va jay jay? I think not.

Just to set them straight, here are MY 8 Tips For How to Ask For a Raise
  1. Set your intention and ground it down. Ask the Universe for what you need and desire. Say it out loud, or even better, let us witness it or share your intention with a friend.
  2. Visualize your boss saying yes. Close your eyes and see yourself in that corner office with the view. Know that you’re worth it and that you already have all that you need to have all that you want.
  3. Dress in something that makes you feel uber-confident. Don’t do it to impress your boss. Do it because you feel like a million bucks when you wear it, and it reminds you that you’re even more sparkly inside than that light blue sweater that brings out your eyes makes you feel on the outside.
  4. Compile the evidence to document why you deserve this raise and make sure to focus on the results you've produced that help the organization succeed. Bring in copies of the fabulous presentation you created -- you know, the one that wowed the client and brought in seven figures for the company. Ask for references -- especially customers -- from those who love your work. Prepare a case your boss can’t turn down.
  5. Be prepared to walk away. If you’re irreplaceable and they know it, be willing to let your job go. You don’t have to say it out loud, but know in your heart that you’re worth it. Release any niggling fears that might hold you back (you know the little voices that say “But in this job market! You’d be crazy to let this job go!” Shhh…go away little gremlins.) Fear will only hold you back, and you’re ready to fly, baby!
  6. Before you approach your boss to ask for what you deserve, surround yourself with a pink love bubble. See it in your minds eye. Open your fourth chakra and approach your boss as a loving spirit, asking another loving spirit for something you’ve earned.
  7. Ask with a pure heart. Don’t do it because you want that Prada bag or a new BMW. Sure, it’s fine to have those things, but if you get caught up in materialism, you can lose sight of what really matters -- the people you love, the sun setting on the ocean, and serving the world with your gifts.
  8. Set goals, but release attachment to outcomes. Sure, it’s great to set the goal that you want to earn more money. But trust that the Universe knows what’s good for you, and if you don’t get the raise, it’s because that may not be in your Highest Good right now. Believe that the Universe has something much better in store for you. Maybe getting that raise would make it hard to quit your job next month when some other fabulous opportunity comes up. So set your goals, then let them go. The Universe doesn’t need you to be in charge.

And if you MUST do something to your vagina, don’t deodorize it, vajazzle it. Shave your pubes into a heart or go commando if you like. Don’t do it for anybody else. Do it because it makes you giggle to know how glittery you are underneath those fabulous panties. Go to a scrapbooking store and buy stickers, rhinestones, fake tattoos -- whatever might make you feel fabulously naughty and pussified.

Now go! Own it girlfriends! You smell beautiful and you’re worth every penny of that raise. Go get ‘em, tiger (growl….)

Ooh la la,

Dr. Lissa

This blog, and the book on which it is based, is a complement to - not a substitute for - professional advice and intervention, and is not intended to replace the advice of a gynecologist or medical professional, who should be consulted about any health care issues that may affect the individual reader. The information contained in this book is the product of observations made by the author in her practice, as well as her review of relevant literature in her field of expertise. The literature at times reflects conflicting opinions and conclusions. The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author and are not intended to reflect the views of any group or organization with whom the author is affiliated.


Steve Copper's picture

thank you all for your

thank you all for your support. And thank you Madame Salon for responding to Quel.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Marc

If you think I believe that women are some downtrodden part of society, you clearly haven't spent much time here at Owning Pink. But I respect your right to your opinion and appreciate your thoughtful response. And as for that BMW, sure, the ads are meant to make you want to feel the way you feel when you watch that advertisement, but how does that compare to the Summer's Eve advertisement, which arguably makes women feel insecure about how they smell? I'm glad you have enough self-confidence to know that no THING is going to make you feel powerful, vital, and happy. And yes, most women are intelligent enough to know that washing their vagina will not get them a raise. I certainly am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence. I'm simply taking a stand against a company trying to exploit the insecurities of women in order to make a sale.

You say that's no different than what I'm doing to sell books? Well, you have a right to feel that way. But I would challenge you to go borrow someone's copy of that book and see if you still feel the same way.

Thank you for being here and give your girlfriend (and yourself) a big hug for me.
I'm so glad this post has brought about such lively discussion! How wonderful that we're finally TALKING about this stuff instead of keeping it buried in the closet.

With gratitude,

Marc's picture

Over the Top?

Ms. Rankin,

Having read one of your more recent replies to this article, I couldn't help but challenge you. My girlfriend happened to be reading this article when I came in today and (having my eyes caught by the title as I did) I read it through myself afterwards. Anyway, to the point: I feel that your quest to portray women as some kind of downtrodden segment of society is surely as bad as the advert. In a similar way to the way in which these ad companies are trying to push their products, so it would seem that you are attempting to do so with your book.

Newsflash: women aren't stupid!

I think you would find that most women don't honestly believe that they are going to be turned down for a raise because of any kind of vaginal odour! That's so ridiculous that nobody could possibly believe it. The fact that you are suggesting that women fall for this type of advertising is frankly insulting to women across the world. As a previous respondent stated, all advertising is meant to play on your emotions. That's how advertising works. Today, I saw an advert for a new BMW sports car. The man driving it looked suave and sophisticated: every bit the alpha male he was supposed to look. I wouldn't mind being a bit more like him and the advert seemed to suggest that buying that car was the key. I have enough money saved that I could buy that car in an instant. But I didn't. Why? Because I realise that I don't need it and that having it wouldn't turn me instantly in to a sexy Italian man with great hair and a tan to die for. In short, I'm not a gullible idiot.

How many women do you know who would see that (admittedly offensive) ad and think to themselves, "You know what? I'm going to ask for a raise tomorrow. Maybe I should get that. Just in case?" I can tell you honestly that I know none. Or certainly those that I asked said that they thought it was ridiculous. Let's be honest, a confident 30-something at that point in her career will not be had by the ad-men. Your reaction, though well intentioned is pointless.

I think the war you're fighting is already won. Why pick at the scabs of old wounds? Admittedly, this ad started the picking but your reaction to it is probably the same as most women. That is to laugh derisively at what it is suggesting. However, whereas most women just get on with their lives as if they hadn't read it, you have taken umbrage and in doing so have insulted the intelligence of over 50% of the world's population. Kudos.

And as for YOUR top 8 things? I would like you to tell me what good asking the universe or visualising your boss saying yes is going to do. If it's to increase your confidence, then surely it doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you are confident. If you're not, chances are you don't deserve the raise in the first place. Men have the same problems, believe me. My boss and her boss' boss are both women and I have no doubt in my mind that fusty ball sweat or lack thereof did not even cross their minds when they decided to hire me. The only male applicant for that position. You have to realise that the world is changed and no matter how much you want to feel persecuted or have the fallback of a sexist boss as an excuse for not getting that raise, that's just not how it is anymore. At the risk of sounding clichéd, suck it up and get on with it.


Lissa Rankin's picture

Denise, you have a right to your opinion

But I flatly disagree with you. I say the ads aimed at men's insecurities are just as damaging. My goal at Owning Pink, in my books, in my medical practice, in how I raise my daughter, and in life in general is to encourage people to love themselves exactly as they are- natural vagina smell, fat belly, bald head, or whatever. Any ad meant to make us feel shitty so we spend money to try to change ourselves (rather than changing ourselves based on a true desire to better ourselves- is misguided.

But thank you for your opinion.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Denise, you have a right to your opinion

But I flatly disagree with you. I say the ads aimed at men's insecurities are just as damaging. My goal at Owning Pink, in my books, in my medical practice, in how I raise my daughter, and in life in general is to encourage people to love themselves exactly as they are- natural vagina smell, fat belly, bald head, or whatever. Any ad meant to make us feel shitty so we spend money to try to change ourselves (rather than changing ourselves based on a true desire to better ourselves- is misguided.

But thank you for your opinion.

Denise Goldberg's picture

You're overreacting. I was

You're overreacting. I was watching TV with my husband and a Vagisil ad. came on. It's the same message that has you so riled up, but it didn't bother him and it didn't bother me. Then the station ran an ad. for some kind of man-targeted body spray that purportedly gave the wearer the power to pick up women. Then an ad. came on for a breakfast cereal that helps you hit home runs...The fact that you're digging decades into the past to find a reason to be pissed off with the way that some women feel they're treated is kind of scary. I'm 35 and well past my university days, yet even in the '90s my MBA class was slightly over 50% female. I really don't understand how the women's movement's charged past the ERA days to what seems like some kind of sanctification push. You can tell a man to lose weight, bulk up, get hair plugs, buy a shiny car, pop a blue pill, open his wallet for chair covers at your wedding, but you even mention to a woman that she lose a pound of post-pregnancy baby fat or mask vaginal odour and you get fifty militants ready to march on Walgreens.

Lisa Townsend's picture

BIG difference

I appreciate your opinion and agree that ads that target men aren't any better than those targeting women. ANY ad that preys on someone's self worth and esteem and makes them question their value is just offensive. That said, I believe there is a BIG difference between an ad geared toward men (or women) smelling better with the intent of picking up members of the opposite sex and an ad geared toward women needing to make their vagina's smell better in order to get a raise. I mean, C'mon Denise, think about it. If your boss said to you, you work just as hard as the rest of the guys here despite having the same level of education/MBA, but your pussy smells and I think you should douche in order to get to the next level of management. Wouldn't you be outraged? And yes, I realize that this is a blatant statement and NO boss is EVER going to put it in these terms, right? They aren't that stupid -- they know they'd face the biggest harassment suit on the planet. So, why then should we as a society -- men or women alike -- accept this blatant of an ad campaign thrown in our faces?

Devon's picture

Another perspective...

Advertising that preys on insecurities (and most of it does) is not o.k. directed at either men or women. The fact is that douching is NOT good for vaginas, period. The ad is offensive in many ways, one of which is the fact that they are trying to convince women that they 'need' a product that is bad for their health. Selling douches to women is like trying to sell men scented enemas to treat gas. It's unnecessary and actually causes harm. No one needs to 'dig decades into the past to find a reason to be pissed off with the way that some women feel they're treated.' Women are still being treated unfairly in the present moment. We still live a world where women get stoned to death for being raped. I'm not saying that the crime of a corporation profiting by making women feel self-conscious about their bodies is the equivalent of a woman getting stoned to death, but that the message behind a product like Summer's Eve is that our bodies in their natural state are not acceptable, that we are smelly and unattractive, that there is something inherently unappealing about us unless we douche with Summer's Eve. It's hateful, and at the root of it is the same misogyny that has prevailed over the world for centuries.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Bless you Angela

Thank you SO much for listening and responding in such an open-hearted, supportive way. I can only imagine how hard your job must be right now. And honestly, I KNOW Summer's Eve did not intend to offend women. Why would you, when we are who you are trying to target? I know this was a giant market oops on the part of the brand, and I appreciate the quick response to the outrage of women.

It's wonderful that companies are trying to change advertising campaigns in order to empower women. The heart of your mission, I'm sure, is pure. And I imagine that you, as in individual, want nothing more than to rectify this issue, both professionally and personally. I know you're just one of us- a loving spirit, a woman longing to help other women reclaim their wholeness, maybe a mother, a wife, and certainly a divine being in your own right, as we all are. And so, with my heart wide open, I thank you for your apology, and on behalf of everyone here at Owning Pink, I forgive you (and I swear, I mean that sincerely.)

When I first saw the ad (and wrote this post), I was very angry- and it's hard to make me angry. While I continue to stand for women and what I said here, I'm no longer angry, and I'd rather look forward to how we can change things on behalf of women everywhere.

Someone on Twitter asked me "How can Summer's Eve fix this?" and I thought long and hard about it. Yes, I know it must be a PR nightmare, and I empathize with those who are struggling to rectify what has happened. But how CAN Summer's Eve fix this and stay in business?

I would love to see Summer's Eve start a campaign aimed at helping women learn to love their bodies (and their good-smelling natural vaginas) just the way they are. Rather than tapping into the fears and insecurities most women have about their girl parts, why not help them know that they're normal- and they're beautiful, and that if they have an odor so strong that they might not get a raise- they need to see a doctor!

How will this sell product for Summer's Eve, when I know you all have quotas to meet? Just look at alcohol and tobacco companies for guidance. They are selling something most of us know is bad for us and yet many use the products anyway. So while it may seem counterintuitive to empower women about how to love their natural odor rather than scaring them into buying a feminine wash, it just might work. There are still those committed followers of the brand who will love the brand all the more for helping spread the message that we're beautiful, perfect, whole beings. If the brand starts a campaign like this with a pure heart- not just to sell product but to truly help change the way the female body is viewed, that would be something I would rave about here at Owning Pink. That would take guts. That would take a stand on behalf of all of us. And I'd love to see more brands willing to truly support the whole health of women.

So thank you, again, for your apology. Now, take a deep breath, get a massage, call your BFFs so they can take you out and give you hug, and please join the rest of us in the fight to redefine the new feminism and bring advertising into the modern world.

With love and gratitude,
Lissa Rankin, MD
Owning Pink's founder

Angela Bryant's picture

We are listening

Hello this is Angela Bryant, Summer’s Eve Brand Manager. I want to thank you for speaking your mind on what appeared in Woman’s Day. Many of you have asked “what were they thinking?” In all honesty, we never made the connections when the editorial was reviewed and we apologize. We are working hard to adjust our current ad campaigns, though unfortunately, one or two may appear in upcoming magazines that were already in production when these concerns became evident.

Moving forward, Summer’s Eve wants to not only connect with our customers, but to be an active leader on the issues that matter to women. We just engaged a progressive communications team, and in the next several weeks, we’ll be talking to women all over the country about the issues that matter to us as women. We’re insisting on open and frank discussions to make sure all of our future marketing and education efforts are relevant and respectful.

I want to know what you would like to hear and see from Summer’s Eve, so send me an email at summerseve_cares@cbfleet.com
Thank you again, Angela Bryant

Angie Coiro's picture

Unfortunately, you can't do much.

You're speaking in your professional capacity, thus can't really engage on an honest level here. That's understandable; it's your job, and most of us have been in those compromising positions.

The cold fact is, Summer's Eve is inherently anti-woman. Its roots as a product, its reliance on real or ginned-up insecurities, its inherent unhealthiness all mean the company CANNOT respect women and still thrive.

The "respectful" thing to do would be to stop making and selling something women don't need and that can in fact harm them. To stop creating and/or exacerbating insecurities that position Summer's Eve as a solution rather than part of the problem. To inform women that truly offensive odors signal a health problem and should send them to a doctor, not the cash register with your product in hand.

You can't serve both masters. You can respect women and encourage them on the road to full empowerment, or you can sell douche. You can't do both.

Lissa - thanks for an excellent post!

Ruby Wildflower's picture

Box Waft

Dearest Lissa,

You are TRULY a revolutionist. This kind of thing NEEDS to be brought out in the open and I think it makes us all better and stronger people to talk about our lady gardens - and the smell of.

I've NEVER smelt another lady's "box waft" in my life and I'm surrounded by women! So I find it hard to imagine that it needs to be stripped bare and soaped up "just in case".

I would also like to genuinely applaud you for being able to brandish about words like "pussy" in your blog and still be incredibly reputable, intelligent and witty. You have done nothing but inspire me and I now realise that my blog has a future and I don't have to kick it out on the streets to turn tricks.

Butterfly kisses

KellyLove's picture

Agree completely!

And love that you included REAL tips for asking for a raise. I posted to my Twitter account about being offended by this - @Eve_Cares set up its own "damage control" Twitter account a couple of days after the sh*t hit the fan and all of the responses are basically the same. So they pulled the ad and won't run it again. But what are they going to DO about it otherwise? I blogged about it at www.kellylovejohnson.com if you want to read more.

Kimberly Johnson's picture


Really super offensive and ridiculous, to the point of being funny. Reality as satire. Thanks for speaking out with a voice of sanity and reason, and indignity!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thoughts on the 8 tips for MickeySix

Mickey six- I can't seem to find the comment here that landed in my inbox (for others- here's MickeySix's comment in response to our back and forth:)

lissa: i did play around on the site some more after i wrote the comment,
read some of your other posts and it certainly sounds like you know what
you're doing and talking about :) i also concede that i missed that
particular point in the article.

i commented on the list specifically because one of my facebook friends
linked to your article, and it touched off quite the firestorm especially
among the females who read it. the consensus was that it was overwritten at
best and condescending at worst. again, while it's understood the list isn't
the main point of the piece, it's still there and it detracts strongly from
the main point and the remainder of the article -- which is, no doubt,
absolutely rock solid and thoroughly enjoyable. confidence, always; anything
else is peripheral.

all that said, i understand much more now where you're coming from.Thank you so much for clarifying.

My response back:
Ooh- now my ears are burning! I love it when I set off controversy and frankly I'm not afraid to be criticized. But honestly, I can't begin to imagine how anyone could read that list as condescending. More condescending than washing your vagina?

I'm learning a very interesting lesson about context. Obviously, here at Owning Pink, where everyone knows me and knows each other- and we have ground rules that establish that everything posted in intended to be empowering and loving and pro-woman, no one gives a second thought to whether it would be empowering to wrap your employer in a "love bubble" when you ask for more money. When Dr. Christiane Northrup posted this blog on her Facebook page, 90 people wrote positive, supportive, empowering comments- because Christiane and I think alike.

But when I post on my blog on PsychologyToday.com or Care2.com or BlogHer.com, the comments are TOTALLY different because the community is different, the context is different, and most people aren't used to commenting on the web in a way that is loving. So controversy ensues, people get nasty, and- as you say- sometimes firestorms erupt. Which is fine....Somewhere in the firestorm, a little pilot light gets planted that maybe I'm not here to make women feel condescended to. Maybe, in fact, as readers will discover when they read my book What's Up Down There, my goal is to be a voice standing for women. But I'm with being misunderstood from time to time. And I genuinely believe that the tips I included DO work. Maybe they're a bit woo woo- but I guess I"m just a bit woo woo! And maybe some would consider my comment about "vajazzling" condescending, but I personally did this the first time I went on TV- and I have to tell you, it gave me quite the boost (inspired by Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts).

Anyway, thank you for being here and making me think! I really value your comments and love to hear about how things are being received outside of our pink love bubble here.

Warm hugs and gratitude,

Lissa Rankin's picture

One other quote from my book

Aside from douching, are there natural things you can do to make your vagina smell more fresh?

I’m going to assume that you’re bathing daily and that you’ve seen a doctor to make sure you are infection-free. But is there anything else you can do to improve your scent naturally?
1. Eliminate hair from your pubic region. Because hair traps odors, any funk you carry down there will get trapped in your pubic hair until you bathe again. Just think about how your hair smells when you’ve been in a smoky bar. Bare skin does not trap odors the same way hair does.
2. Wipe with baby wipes instead of toilet paper. If funky urine or residual fecal bacteria contributes to your odor, this will help.
3. Drink cranberry juice, which acts as a natural antibacterial in your urinary tract and may affect your smell down there.
4. Go panty-free whenever you can to keep the cooch aired out. Choose cotton panties when you do have to cover up.
5. Take probiotics to keep the vaginal flora healthy.
6. Avoid pantyhose and tight jeans.
7. Keep in mind that things that make your urine stinky can lead to vaginal odor. Eat a healthy, largely vegetable-based, whole foods diet, and avoid known offenders such as coffee, asparagus, beets, alcohol, broccoli, onions, garlic, and curry. Try drinking lots of green juice and eating raw foods instead. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and dilute the urine.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Matt & MickeySix, thanks for

Matt & MickeySix, thanks for chiming in. (And Mickeysix, you'll see, if you poke around OwningPink.com that my list is totally aligned with how I promote healthy vital living for women. And if you think my approach undermines feminism, spend more time here and check back with me. But thanks for your thoughts! I value them!)

Shileen- here's a quote from my upcoming book What's Up Down There about diet and how coochies smell:

My boyfriend says my vagina does not taste good. Are there foods that will help improve the flavor of my vagina?
If you’re as sensitive about your smell and taste as most women, I apologize on behalf of your lover. No woman wants to hear that she doesn’t taste yummy, but I give him two thumbs up for honesty. I can only assume that he’s motivated to improve your taste so he can give you some love, if you know what I mean.
Is there a way to make the vagina taste better? Maybe. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to support a link between diet and vaginal taste. (I just cracked myself up trying to imagine getting that study past the Institutional Review Board!) But some swear that certain diets and habits can change the taste of your vagina. Rumor has it that cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol can make you taste bitter, while red meat, dairy, garlic, onion, curry, broccoli, asparagus, spinach and multivitamins may make you taste salty or sharp. Vegetables high in chlorophyll, such as wheatgrass, parsley, and celery are reputed to make you taste sweeter, as are spices like cinnamon, peppermint, and cardamom. Eating fruit may also sweeten your taste, as can drinking lots of water.
Vegan diets, particularly diets high in raw vegetables and fruit, are reputed to make you taste fresh and sweet. My hope is that, regardless of how you taste, your lover will be singing the praises of the delicious mouthful that is YOU. A note to your partner: bon appetit!

mickeysix's picture

Re: Matt & MickeySix, thanks for

lissa: i did play around on the site some more after i wrote the comment, read some of your other posts and it certainly sounds like you know what you're doing and talking about :) i also concede that i missed that particular point in the article.

i commented on the list specifically because one of my facebook friends linked to your article, and it touched off quite the firestorm especially among the females who read it. the consensus was that it was overwritten at best and condescending at worst. again, while it's understood the list isn't the main point of the piece, it's still there and it detracts strongly from the main point and the remainder of the article -- which is, no doubt, absolutely rock solid and thoroughly enjoyable. confidence, always; anything else is peripheral.

all that said, i understand much more now where you're coming from.

mickeysix's picture

you had me...

... until your list. you ruined a perfectly delightful, humorous and poignant read with that load of tripe.

there aren't 8 things to do when asking for a raise. there is only one, and it applies to everyone:

1. know your s**t, state your case, ask for a raise and be confident. end of story.

woman's day is obviously out of touch and completely out to lunch, but that list reads like "a man's idea of a woman's list of how to get ahead in a man's world." when a vagina contributes in any fashion to getting a raise, then the heart of feminism is torn asunder.

Matt's picture

Another man's perspective!

I’m a man, but I’ll add my voice to the mix. Looks like just another company trying to make a profit from insecurities under the guise of promoting women’s empowerment, though in this case they’re clearing focused more on stoking insecurity than on empowering. And really, it’s my understanding that unless you’re got something medically wrong, your vagina smells exactly the way it should, and speaking as a man who loves women, it’s a good smell. Not to be crude, but I’ve smelled, and tasted, my share of vaginas and I’ve never had anything but a pleasant overall experience! When a guy gets down between your legs I assure you he has other things on his mind than what you smell like. And if your boss is close enough to your vagina to notice the smell, you should be thinking more about the sexual harrasment charges you'll be filing than a raise!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Raw vegan diet

By the way- one more point. I'm friends with a bunch of raw vegans and they SWEAR that their veggie diet makes them smell more fresh. My hubby- who loved my smell the way I was- swears it's true. Ever since I started guzzling green juice and indulging in lots of raw foods, he says I smell even better. So maybe instead of washing with soap that smells like rain, we should improve our nutrition and fill our bodies with yummy veggies.

Just sayin'....

Shileen's picture

Healthy Diets/Detoxing

Hm!! I find that extremely interesting! Yet another good reason to eat healthy!!! If you think about it, Lissa, that makes perfect sense. The more we detox the better we smell ... even in general. A healthy body does not have a body oder. Soooo ... that would include our southern region. lol Very interesting!!!

Lissa Rankin's picture

vagina air

Daria, that's brilliant! And of course it's true. Our pheromones are meant to not only attract the opposite sex but to help us pick people with HLA types dissimilar to our own so we produce genetically varied offspring. It's an evolutionary thing, and if we try to cover it up, we're shooting ourselves in the foot! (or in the cooch, as the case may have it.)

Great point!

Daria's picture

Vagina smell

I forget which show I was watching, but it was a scientific study that had men rate the attractiveness of women under 2 different controls.

1) Just breathing normal air.

2) Breathing air that had women's secretions in it during the time of ovulation.

They had it to have no noticable aroma, but the men consistently rated the women more attractive (Statistically significant results) when they were breathing the *vagina* air.

So, you know what? Maybe time it around your ovulation cycle, but regardless your smell is GENETICALLY geared to make you attractive to men. It's a physical response. Revel in it!!

Daria's picture

Vagina smell

I forget which show I was watching, but it was a scientific study that had men rate the attractiveness of women under 2 different controls.

1) Just breathing normal air.

2) Breathing air that had women's secretions in it during the time of ovulation.

They had it to have no noticable aroma, but the men consistently rated the women more attractive (Statistically significant results) when they were breathing the *vagina* air.

So, you know what? Maybe time it around your ovulation cycle, but regardless your smell is GENETICALLY geared to make you attractive to men. It's a physical response. Revel in it!!

Meagan Francis's picture

holy cow

I laughed out loud reading this post--but it was that head-shaking, can't-believe-what-I'm-reading kind of laugh. I think Summer's Eve and other companies like it are freaking out. I'm 33, and I've known since I was 12 that douching is a bad idea and that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. The generations that were brought up with those awful sexist ads are aging and will eventually die off. What will happen to douche companies when they have no willing customers?

Earlier I told my husband, even on the sweatiest day I'd take a good airing out to a shot of Glade in the nether regions. I have to think more women my age would agree with me, than not.

Jen Davenport RN's picture

Wow...of course if its that smelly you've got other problems :)

First: I demand to know what orifice it is that men have to scour in order for them to get a raise. Oh wait! They have penises; my bad.
Second: The aspects of the ad I find so demeaning is A, the blatant reminder that not only do we work so hard in the first place but have come up with shenanigans just to get recognized for it. If that’s what you have to do just to get a raise, what the hell do you have hose out to get the job in the first place? Their basically saying that no one would bet odds on the substance of what you’ve done, i.e. met goals, went above and beyond, astounded clients etc. That of course means nothing from a woman. But ya! That whole make-your-pussy-smell-like-a-Glade-air-freshener will completely do the trick. We’ll take it to the bank. Holy Crap Bat Man!
And B, I don’t recall the goddess sending us with care packages when she was designing us, including a case of lavender-infused pouches with inserts that read “In case of the need to prove yourself, rinse repeatedly.”
Shame on any woman’s magazine that involves themselves in this kind of stupor!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Rock on, Just-A-Male

LOL! Thank you for showing up and being the male voice of reason. We women need to be reminded that you like us the way we are!

Just-A-Male's picture

Don't wash for me... I love your natural smell...

I love the article and share the author anger. As a man who is absolutely devoted to pussy I want to shout from the rooftops... Let it smell... Let it smell and taste like a pussy. THAT is what brings my hard-ons and insatiable appetite to go down on you ! If I wanted it otherwise you would see me licking a bar of lavender soap... Dearest pussies - be YOURSELF!

Thea's picture

Another post on the subject you might like...

I just read another post about that ad that takes the same position, but with more cursing and less medical validity.


Honestly, I have no relationship to this blog other than to think that the author is extremely funny and generally right on. We went to the same college, but don't hold that against her. She is a misunderstood genius.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Anonymous

I hear you, love. And yes, don't worry. I'm not out to skewer anyone, including you! Honestly, I hear what you're saying, and I get it- these people have a job to do, sales quotas to meet, and your'e probably thinking, "There but by the grace of God go I." I understand that. And yes, clearly, this brand didn't do this to slam women. That would be shooting themselves in the foot. They obviously genuinely thought that this would empower women and make them buy Summer's Eve products.

That's part of what's so sad about it to me. Is the notion that feminine odor is so disgusting so pervasive that they could honestly think women would find this message empowering? What concerns me most is that, while some of us were lucky enough to be raised with supportive parents and positive body image messages that allow us to ignore an ad like this, most are not. These subtle messages that we see in advertising and media all over the place serve to undermine our value as women and as individuals. We can't help but be affected by us. It's everywhere, at least here in the US.

Having a discussion about advertising or the media is a whole other conversation, and I'm certainly not trying to diminish the value of the work you do. But I do think it's important that brands be conscious of the power they hold.

May more truly loving, empowering messages infuse the advertising/PR world so that we all might be lifted up together.

And yes, may we always remember that we are beautiful and whole and perfect- and no ad campaign can ever take that away from us.

I'm sorry if I've upset or offended you. It was genuinely not my intention.

What I can tell you, as someone brands are seeking out to help them develop empowering positive messages aimed at women, is that I do say what I think. And had Summer's Eve asked my opinion about this ad, it might never had appeared in the first place. I do tell the truth about how I feel about products, which means that the ones I DO support have the full force of my loyal brand support behind them.

Thank you for being here- and thank you for your candor.
Warm hugs and love,

Shileen's picture


Love this article! Thanks for being so honest and putting it out there!

Anonymous's picture


I know I will probably get heat for what I am going to say... but I need to say it so please, be gentle!

I am have a vagina. I am also an advertising rep (not for this magazine or any of its affiliates!). I totally agree that making your cha-cha smell like roses is NOT what you need to ask for a raise, and I detest the fact that media dictates things like this... lets remember what it comes down to - a paid advertisement. Not a magazines opinion / editorial. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech blah blah blah..

Why are we allowing our self doubt (or whatever anyone wants to call it) to arise from an ad? Instead of bashing an idea that an ad rep (like myself) had, why not focus on positive reinforcement. By the way, this person who came up with this campaign (and probably made their boss very happy when they sold the idea) he or she may not have seen it that way, but seen a cute way to personalize the product & make their sales goal which in turn equals their paycheck to feed their families. Now because of negative comments on a companies PAID ADVERTISEMENT, this person may have lost their job & respect...

It is not fair for a publication to monitor ads like that... one persons opinion is just as valid as anothers. No matter how we may feel about it. It is up to us to be strong enough to love ourselves & our smells!!! :-)

Bottom line, by getting pissed off by an ad we are actually creating a greater brand awareness for Summers Eve! I don't even read that magazine but I now have seen the ad & heard the brand name several more times than I would have in my regular day-to-day life...

Ok... anyway!!! <3


Lissa Rankin's picture

Amen, Lisa!

You're absolutely right, sweetie. This IS an opportunity to teach our children and each other that our value lies not in our appearance, our smell, or any other external manifestations of who we are, but rather, in our hearts, minds, and spirits.

Lisa Townsend's picture

Spread the word

I am the mother of a 20 year-old college daughter and I plan on sharing the ad and this string of comments with her. I've raised her to be proud of WHO she is, not what she looks like, dresses like and certainly not what she smells like. Thankfully, she hasn't bought into most of the crap that this ad is trying to put out there.
But, this is so blatant that it's also one of those instances to reinforce once again and use as a teaching tool, right? Because no doubt there are girls and young women out there that do take this idiotic marketing theme to heart- friends of my daughters, daughters of ALL of our friends. So, within our disgust, anger and frustration ladies, let's use this as an opportunity to educate our girls and young women to how beautiful they are AS IS.

Lissa Rankin's picture

No, sorry! MS is safe!

Sorry for the confusion. That was a tweet @Eve_Cares sent to @MsMagazine. In other words, Ms mag was pissed like the rest of us and Summer's Eve is apologizing to them. The ad ran in Woman's Day magazine (shame on them!)

Lissa Rankin's picture

You tell 'em sisters!

Soooo....Twitter is ALL atwitter over all this! Summer's Eve has started a new Twitter ID just to apologize to people on Twitter. Here's what they're posting:

@msmagazine It was not our intention to make any offensive implications. We are sorry to have offended you and have stopped the ad.

So I guess ranting works to affect social change! Unfortunately, it's too little too late. The damage is done. This ad is already in print and niggling its doubts into the minds of women. Someone on Twitter asked me what Summer's Eve could do to undo the damage, and I said they should start a campaign aimed at assuring a woman that she is beautiful and perfect just the way she is- and that her natural smell is lovely! (Of course, this would put them out of business. But seriously, would that be a bad thing?) Someone on Twitter even started a new hashtag #Summerseveshouldgooutofbusiness. Made me giggle.

Anyway, thank you all for your support. And thank you Madame Salon for responding to Quel. I agree with what you said!


connie's picture

Ms. Magazine???

Ms. Magazine ran this? Some of us are old enough to remember when that magazine started and how all the conservative types were concerned it was ground zero for the fema-nazi movement. And all these years later they are running ads like this? Makes me wonder if the women's movement has been driven into a ditch. All these women going to work showing their cleavage has been of concern to me lately...do they really think this helps women be taken seriously?

Devon's picture

Douchebags promoting douchebags

Here's what I wrote to Summer's Eve on their website:

Your ad that appeared in Woman's Day about how to get a raise was wildly offensive. Implicating that a woman's vagina has an offensive odor that may inhibit her from being promoted or getting a raise is archaic and misogynistic. Add to that the fact that most douches and 'feminine hygiene' products do more harm than good by disrupting that delicate natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, and that making women feel self conscious about natural bodily changes so that you can make a profit is cruel and greedy, and the overall picture of your product (and probably your company) is shameful. I will NEVER purchase a Summer's Eve product, and I will discourage every woman I know from ever purchasing a Summer's Eve product! My vagina smells just fine, thank you, and if I want a raise, all I have to do is saunter in and rely on my superb job performance to do the talking for me.

On the 'Contact Us' page, they ask for a 'Lot Number,' assuming you're contacting them to let them know about a product of theirs that you've purchased. I just made one up, and it took my email. Let's tell them how much ire this ad has generated!

Devon's picture

Douchebags promoting douchebags

Here's the Summer's Eve website:


Go to the 'Contact Us' link and give them a piece of your mind! I'm going to write them right now!

Lai Har 's picture

You are amazing!

Thank you Lissa for your courage!!!

It's a shining example for us all.

Lai Har 's picture

Thank you for your great work!!


You are an amazing example of the stand that we all have to make in life. There comes a time when the spirit's call is stronger than the temptation of the material world. I applaud you and I thank you for your strength. The generations after you will benefit so much from your courage now.

Stay Fierce and Fab!
Lai Har

Emma's picture


Excellent response Lissa. Living in the UK (London) means your book isn't available here yet, but I have it on pre-order and can't wait to read it. Thanks for responding on every womans' behalf to the Summer's Eve ad in such an eloquent and pro-active way. Emma x

Lisa Elia's picture

The Stupid Douche Commercials Continue!

When I was in college, one of the douche companies had a stupid commercial where the daughter walks up to the mother with her hands behind her back and says, "Mom, guess which hand has the freshest idea in douching." I turned to my friend and said, "Leigh, don't you and your mom play the douche game?" It became a running joke. Invariably, most commercials for feminine hygiene products are ridiculous and seem to assume we all have IQs of 70 or less.
This ad just proves it. Thanks for sharing it and your wise insights!

Quel's picture

I do agree that the wash your

I do agree that the wash your vagina, get a raise connection is ridiculous.

Quel's picture

But what's so wrong with wanting to smell fresh?

I guess.

I get your message, but we are a society that doesn't embrace body odors in general. We wear underarm deodorant, use deodorizing soaps and wear colognes. Doing all these things are second nature to most of us, male and female, daily. We value looking and smelling "fresh". What's so wrong with using a deodorant soap (externally) "down there" along with all those other things in the name of general freshness?

Yes, it's supposed to smell like pussy, but only to the person who is using/sharing it intimately. Not to the person who is sitting next to you or across from you at work.

MadameSalon's picture

a friendly response:

@Quel: if a woman has a strong and noticeable odor, she needs to be checked by a doctor as some infections definitely produce such odors. A healthy pussy never has a smell that someone sitting next to you could detect. I will say that some women may not change their panties or pads/tampons as often as they should; and especially in the humidity of summer, this could well create a strong "aura". Sadly, some of us are almost phobic about touching our pussies and may not care for them as well they should. Wearing super tight jeans constantly is not a good idea either, as they trap moisture/sweat and often chafe. Ouch.
As Dr. Lissa said, a gentle soap and water wash-or just water alone-is sufficient to clean the vulva. Again, if one is healthy, there is no need for deodorant soap on your genitals. Such soaps are way too harsh for the delicate skin of our pussies. After you dry yourself thoroughly, a light touch of a cornstarch based powder(or just plain cornstarch as it is pure, unscented, and absorbs moisture well) just in the area between thigh and outer labia is pleasant during the warmer months.
You are absolutely right in your observation that in America, people depend upon deodorants; Americans don't even like "smelly" cheeses as the French do!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Bless you Sheena!

Really, bless you all..
Fighting the good fight with you

Sheena LaShay's picture


Hands down, this is the best article all week. I've seen others respond to this but yours is the most eloquent, in your face, god honest truth, relate-able response. Also, I love that you countered with your own list of how to get a raise. You are a true Goddess!!! Thank God I found Owning Pink when I did!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Bless you dear ones!

Oh my. I've been away from the computer all day (something I'm reluctant to do when I post something I'm passionate about). But I'm now back from family day in Sonoma and so happy to read that I've touched a nerve in many of you!

Grrrrr back at you all, and thank you for the wonderful support!
Big love and natural smelling vaginas,


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