Qu Puteh beauty products baroness Datuk Seri Hasmiza Othman, aka Dr Vida, aka Datuk Vida, aka the possessor of a smile that lines dreams and nightmares alike, has just been dealt another blow.
Last month, gossip columnists had their fodder confirmed: she was, indeed, filing for divorce. This month, some of her skin-whitening products have just been banned by the health ministry for containing harmful amounts of mercury. Excessive mercury has been known to be linked to all sorts of other conditions such as baldness and organ damage.
But “how?” and “why?”, you may be asking. She’s a Doctor, right? Well, not like a Dr House from House, no. And um … not quite like a way that Ross was a Doctor on Friends. Dr Vida is more of a Dr Pepper-type doctor. Totally unqualified to give medical advice, but gosh darn it, that’s some great marketing, kids.
Mercury poisoning is serious stuff, and the laundry list of side effects is enough to put you off that sushi habit (yes, excessive sushi consumption has also been linked to mercury poisoning). Exposure to the heavy metal has been linked to muscle weakness, poor coordination, numbness in the hands and feet, skin rashes, anxiety, memory problems, trouble speaking, trouble hearing, or trouble seeing. Long-term use can lead to kidney problems and uh, decreased intelligence.
Yes, that cream that people buy to make them “whiter,” could actually just be making them more stupid.
This is not the first time that the safety of the snake oil products she shills have been questioned. Brunei banned two of her creams last year over excessive mercury, and a slimming product, found to contain spironolactone, a diuretic that can cause heart failure. After these findings, Malaysian health ministry officials followed suit, banning Qu Puteh Whitening UV Pro 9 and Qu Puteh Whitening UV Block.
“Users had complained of ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hair loss,” said a Health Ministry official.
We know what you’re thinking, baldness AND decreased intelligence is a winning combination, but not everyone saw it that way. It should be noted that Dr Vida’s response to this was that users should just switch to other Qu Puteh products.
Dr Vida has become an enigmatic figure on the Malaysian landscape, since gaining fame in the last few years. A self-made millionaire, her work-ethic and business acumen are something to be admired: she made much of her fortune working as a single-mother. However, there is something rather unsettling that she peddles products to her consumers based on the politics that the whiter the skin, the more attractive the person. And then there’s that baldness effect.
Members of the public can check the status of a cosmetic product at npra.moh.gov.my