“Undercover Colors,” a Blessing in Disguise? | Teen Ink

“Undercover Colors,” a Blessing in Disguise?

March 26, 2015
By olivia.ashley BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
olivia.ashley BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

    Over the past summer, four North Carolina State University undergraduates invented quite possibly the most revolutionary nail polish in recent history.  When submerged in a liquid substance, like a drink, the nail polish can ‘detect’ a date rape drug if the drink has been contaminated.  This means that a woman can give herself a manicure with Undercover Colors nail polish and dip her fingers into her drink if she is skeptical of someone contaminating it with a date rape drug.  The nail lacquer changes color from a magenta pink to a deep, blackened cherry color if someone has tampered with the drink.  The polish can detect some of the most common date-rape drugs, including Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid).  Now, what could be wrong with a nail polish that can seemingly solve a huge and growing problem for women, and men, universally? 

However, critics have found some flaws with the product, as an article from Newsweek explains, “...Katie Russell from Rape Crisis England & Wales was critical of the idea, saying that the charity will not support the invention.‘Whilst Undercover Color’s initiative is well meaning, on the whole,’ she said, ‘Rape Crisis does not endorse or promote such a product or anything similar. This is for three reasons: it implies that it’s the woman’s fault and assumes responsibility on her behalf, and detracts from the real issues that arise from sexual violence’”. She continues, “‘For us, we work with victims to make them [realize] that they did nothing wrong,”’ she adds. “‘Among primary cases, some do ask if they could have done anything to stop it. Products like this suggest otherwise. The emphasis must be placed 100% on the perpetrator’” (Ilsley).   In Russell’s opinion, Undercover Colors implies that women are partially to blame, and it is their responsibility, as the most typical victims, to prevent date rape.  Instead, she thinks society should focus on finding ways to stop predators from drugging drinks to begin with, rather than helping victims to deal with the aftermath of discovering their drink has been contaminated.

On the contrary, inventors Ankesh Madan, Stephen Grey, Tasso Von Windheim and Tyler Confrey-Maloney, offer their reasoning behind creating the lacquer.  Newsweek quoted an interview with Higher Education Works, “...co-founder of Undercover Colors Ankesh Madan explained why the group decided to focus on date rape drugs. ‘As we were thinking about big problems in our society, the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up,’ he said. ‘All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on finding a way to help prevent the crime. We wanted to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use’” (Ilsley).  As he makes evident, the intention of the polish has always been to serve as a secret weapon for women, not something that is supposed to make them feel as if they are causing the problem.

    While the nail lacquer has been scrutinized, I for one think Undercover Colors is a very useful tool to have at your fingertips, (no pun intended).  I do agree there needs to be more of an effort to stop predators before they strike, however there is no harm in the product.  It is simply a preventative measure that has the potential to rescue countless victims from the all-too-common date rape.  This brand is still in a very early stage of development, and has plenty of time to grow and expand into a potentially revolutionary product line.  I am excited to see what the future holds for this company, as I believe they have a hand in changing a growing problem in today’s society.

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