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How did Oprah factor into the circumcision debate?

Television personality Oprah Winfrey attends HBO's New York premiere of the documentary Beyoncé – Life is But a Dream in New York on Feb. 12, 2013.


Of all the topics that Oprah Winfrey may cover on stage in Ottawa Wednesday night, she probably won't spend a lot of time on the beauty secrets of her favourite foreskin face cream. To cover that ground on her behalf outside Scotiabank Place, a group of so-called "intactivists" have vowed to protest male circumcision and Winfrey's misguided skin care choices. Now that's foresight; making a big flap over a little flap on the PR energy of world's most famous woman.

The group, called the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project has made protesting Winfrey's Canadian events a central strategy to raise awareness about their opposition to allowing the circumcision of male babies – a practice it argues should be equated with female genital mutilation. (CAN-FAP believes infant male circumcision violates children's human rights and performing it as a matter of routine or for religious reasons should be outlawed. The science community continues to have mixed views on the health risks and benefits of the procedure. )

The group first rallied outside Winfrey's show in Vancouver in January. The peg? Apparently, the media magnate is a fan of the TNS Essential Serum, which contains the cultured cells of human foreskin. One ounce of the product Winfrey has reportedly called her "magic fountain of youth" costs about $260. To clarify, the company says it used one piece of actual foreskin decades ago to grow the cells that now make it into the cream itself. As the Huffington Post explained, apparently any baby skin would have worked, but "foreskins were the only available samples at the time."

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Anyway, you have to admire CAN-FAP's marketing cheek, if not the taste used in their poster slogans. They plan to show up in Montreal and Hamilton this week as well. And her shows will be packed with the moms and grandmas who may be drawn in by a poster of a crying baby, or at least curious as to how Winfrey, known for her social justice work, factors into the controversy over circumcision. If there was ever a phrase asking for a Google search, it's "foreskin face cream." The protesters just better hope the well-known Oprah Effect doesn't work in the wrong direction – with all her fans suddenly wanting an ounce of her age-defying "miracle" for themselves.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More


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