You’ve heard of face whitening, anal bleaching, and greased lighting but did you know that penis lightening is all the rage in Thailand these days? And not just among Thais. It seems men from all over the world are descending on the Southeast Asian nation to have their Willey’s whitened in what surely has to be one of the more unusual trends we’ve encountered in recent years. Although skin whitening is nearly as popular in Asian countries as football, the notion of subjecting John Thomas to several rounds of laser treatment just to give him a lighter countenance has even some hard-bitten locals scratching their heads.
To Do List: Take out Trash, Have Penis Lightened
While penis lightening is raising plenty of eyebrows, it seems to be more than just a passing fad or a somewhat dangerous kick enjoyed by a few people with too much time and money on their hands. In fact, the number of men having their bratwurst bleached has grown steadily over the past year and now averages more than 100 per month at some of the Thai capital’s bigger plastic surgery hospitals. Although many of the men in search of penis whitening treatments are members of Thailand’s gay community, the overall demographic is quite broad-based and encompasses both gay and straight men of all nationalities between the ages of 22 and 60. There’s no doubt that what started out as a trickle of seemingly unusual requests a couple of years ago has turned into an almost commonplace cosmetic procedure. But should it be encouraged or is it just another form of subtle racism being played out inside men’s boxers?
Why a Whiter Penis is not the Same as Whiter Teeth
Some of the reasons men give for undergoing weenie whitening are pretty funny and include everything from New Year’s resolutions to wanting to feel more confident in their bathing suits. But while it’s uncertain how anyone would be able to discern the color of your cock if you’re wearing a bathing suit what’s not at all uncertain is that most men undergoing the procedure are doing so out of a desire to appear less black.
While the notion that a pale complexion is an indicator of social status is not a new one or a particularly Asian one (Elizabeth I was famous for slathering on the whiteface five centuries ago) there are few places on the globe today where skin whitening is more popular than the Far East. A quick jaunt through downtown Bangkok provides ample proof of this fact as anyone paying attention is bombarded with ads for every conceivable type of skin whitener at every turn. Some will say it’s all a harmless pursuit, like teeth whitening, while others are not buying that excuse.
Of the many deep divides in Thai society, few are more cavernous than that between the wealthy citizens of Bangkok and those from the agricultural northeast. If you spend any time watching Thai soap operas, this divide is regularly reinforced with the well to do families at the center of the narrative all possessing pearly white skin and their hired help – typically seen kneeling obediently in the background – all possessing the darker skin associated with those from the northeast who work in the fields. Officially the country markets itself to the world’s tourists as a bastion of acceptance but spends a bit of time there, and a very different picture emerges. One where the media hammers home the notion of light-skinned superiority and many from those agricultural communities are subjecting themselves to all manner of cosmetic alterations (including skin whitening) in a desperate attempt to make the leap from social outcasts to social insiders. So the notion that penis whitening is all just a bit of harmless fun seems more than a bit disingenuous.
A Whiter Shade of Pale is Not Cheap
Beyond the apparent racist undertones at work in the penis lightening business, the procedure itself is not cheap. Five laser penis whitening treatments will typically cost upwards of $650. When you consider the average Thai office worker makes less than $1,000 a month you can see that this represents a significant investment. Still, that hasn’t stopped men from lining up for the procedure. And that includes foreign men for whom $650 is often little more than pocket change. One such patient who wished to remain anonymous stated that “it’s the kind of thing I could never have done in the West. I’d be branded a racist if I even mentioned it. Here, nobody cares about that stuff.” Indeed.
Is it Safe?
The larger, more prestigious clinics offering the procedure tout the fact that the equipment they use has all been approved by the Thai Ministry of Public Health. This equipment includes lasers that are used to break down the skin’s natural pigmentation to produce the whiter appearance. The process is often painful and can take the love gun in question out of service for up to a week afterward due to lingering tenderness and irritation. Still, for many men, a whiter Willey is worth the trouble.
The Future of Penis Lightening
Whether or not penis lightening is a phenomenon with legs or just the latest short-lived sign that something is very wrong with the world remains to be seen. Even the country’s typically non-interventionist public health ministry has issued warnings (albeit muted ones) about the procedure. A recent one states that penis whitening may cause sterility, result in the uneven coloring of the penis, produce erectile dysfunction and leave one with permanent scars on their private parts. In fact, in an unusually blunt assessment ministry bigwig Dr. Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn stated unequivocally that “Penis laser whitening is not necessary, wastes money and may give more negative effects than positive ones.” The good doctor’s warning, however, seems, at least as of this writing, to be falling on deaf ears, overridden by a desire to climb the social ladder one penis lightening treatment at a time.