The other day I read a post on Medium about what advertising teaches us about periods. To be honest, I had never paid much attention to adverts on sanitary products/menstruation and I found the post quite amusing (mostly).
The post starts off with:
They are often sexist, strange, and silly, but advertisements for menstrual products are an important source of information about periods for many people. Advertising reaches huge audiences and has the power to spread stigma and shame around menstruation — or to inform and empower viewers.
The first print advertisements for sanitary aprons and belts appeared around 1920, promising discretion, convenience, and a solution to “an intimate feminine problem,” and many of the tropes used then are still common now.
Periods were a taboo topic that was not directly spoken about, only alluded to. It took until 1985 for the word period to be said in a TV commercial by none other than Courtney Cox.
In the 1950s Modess promoted the fact that their sanitary napkins came in a plain brown paper box to save embarrassment.
Many brands still use terms like “virtually undetectable” or advertise that their product has a “discreet wrapper” to ensure “discreet protection.” This suggests it’s important to hide the fact you’re menstruating. In 2010, Kotex challenged period shame with their “Break the Cycle” campaign, showing that it’s cool to carry your tampons proudly in a transparent handbag.
I loved when the author of the post wrote:
There’s no need to hide the fact you are menstruating from your partner. Periods shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment.
The author did make a number of other positive statements surrounding menstruation and you can read the full post here. For instance, in times long past:
Menstruation has long been portrayed as a hygiene issue in advertising: the focus is on cleansing and deodorizing with the underlying message being that periods (and by extension, the people who have them) are dirty and smelly.
And the author very kindly emphasised that Your vagina is not dirty and there’s nothing wrong with the way it smells.
I especially loved:
The ubiquitous blue liquid used in many ads sends confusing a message to young people about what periods are and what these products are for. It also suggests that period blood is too disgusting to show on TV, when blood is regularly shown in sports, medical dramas, and horror films. If your period is blue, please see your healthcare provider.
The post ends with:
At Clue we’re running a campaign called Just Say Period to smash taboos around menstruation. The idea is to encourage people to speak openly about periods, instead of using a euphemism or not talking at all. Menstruation is a normal and natural process which is nothing to be ashamed about. We invite you to tweet #justsayperiod with the most ridiculous period euphemism you’ve ever heard.
Then I saw this video by Bodyform
The video was a response to a man’s comedic rant on the bodyform Facebook page. You can read the comment here.
As someone who turns into a creature from the depths of hell when I’m menstruating, I feel that there should be no stigma attached to a natural body function. I mean, without it, the human race would be extinct. As a mom, I am writing this post to ensure that in, at most, 10 years time, any stigma left would be no more.
If you are a man reading this post, tell all the women in your life that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when they are menstruating.
For more info about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, click here. Did you know that the 28th of May is menstrual hygiene day worldwide? No, me neither!
Have a great day folks!