The Latest Oprah Controversy: Protesters Upset Over Skin Cream Endorsement

Oprah Winfrey attends Beyonce's movie in New York on February 12, 2013. (Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)Activists in Canada are protesting Oprah because of the talk show queen's decade-old endorsement of a pricey skin cream made with cells that came from discarded foreskins.

Yes, you read that correctly.

TNS Recovery Complex by SkinMedica boasts the "highest levels of patented growth factor blend" (read: human foreskin cells) and promises to remove wrinkles and enhance skin tone. It costs about $165 for 0.63 of an ounce. Oprah once called it her "fountain of youth."

Yes, you read that correctly, too.

Pro-foreskin activists (they're a thing) are outraged. “How would Oprah respond if a skin cream for men hit the market that was made using cells from the genitalia of little girls? I think she would be absolutely disgusted and appalled, and rightly so. So it’s crazy that she’s doing the opposite,” said Glen Callender, founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project. “We think it’s extremely hypocritical and distasteful that Oprah Winfrey — who is herself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and an outspoken opponent of female genital mutilation — at the same time uses and promotes a product that wouldn’t exist if not for the forcible genital mutilation of boys."

Yahoo! Shine's call to Callender was not returned by press time, but his group has planned a series of protests targeting Oprah. On Saturday night, they'll be picketing in front of the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario (where Oprah is scheduled to appear), dressed in "provocative" outfits, including men in white jumpsuits with red crotches, Callender told the Ottawa Sun. The group first protested Oprah's endorsement in January in Vancouver, where they were joined by a drag-queen dressed as the famous talk show host ("Fauxprah," natch); they also picketed her earlier this week in Montreal and Ottawa.

Earlier this month, SkinMedica founder Dr. Richard Fitzpatrick defended the product, saying that the cells used in the anti-wrinkle cream were grown from a single foreskin obtained more than 20 years ago, The Toronto Star reported.

“Initially, there was a misunderstanding and people thought we were actually grinding up the foreskin. So, there was a lot of snickering and laughing about people putting this foreskin product on their face,” Fitzpatrick said.

Still, it means that someone, somewhere, looked at that bit of discarded epidermis and thought, "I'll bet I can make something out of this." And instead of getting all Silence of the Lambs-y about it, he (or she) invented an expensive skin cream. Of course.

Glen Callendar (center) and protesters with the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project are targeting Oprah. (Photo: …Never mind that Oprah endorsed the product a decade ago (as did Bo Derek), that it was also featured in Allure magazine and on "The View," or that the fibroblast cells derived from foreskins have plenty of legit medical uses, like re-growing skin for burn victims and healing ulcers. The latest anti-circumcision protest has a big presence on Facebook, where the event page warns that there is a chance of snow and promises to provide signs for protesters to hold.

“It is an outrage that infants are still forced to endure genital mutilation in 2013, it is unconscionable that children’s genitalia are targeted for use in cosmetics products, and it is shameful that respected public figures such as Oprah Winfrey aid and abet this deplorable flesh trade,” Callender said in a statement. “Until Oprah apologizes for using and promoting SkinMedica, and publicly defends the human right of all children to grow up with whole bodies, we will continue to rub her face in the fact that she rubs unethical foreskin products on her face.”

Male circumcision is not considered medically necessary in Canada, but still doctors routinely circumcise baby boys (circumcision of girls younger than 18 is illegal). In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that the overall public health benefits of the procedure -- preventing sexually transmitted diseases and reducing rates of urinary tract infections and penile cancer -- outweighed the risks for individuals. However, in both Canada and the United States, the rate of circumcision has been dropping. Beneath the inflammatory rhetoric, that debate may be what this protest is really all about.

“If you tied down an adult male and cut off a piece of his penis without his consent you would be charged with aggravated assault,” protest co-organizer Franny Max told Metro Canada. “So why is it OK to do that to a baby? Just because he can’t complain? I’ll tell you if the baby could talk he wouldn’t be saying yes.”

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