In a day and age where very few topics seem to be off limits, menstruation continues to be a taboo subject. One company is aiming to normalize the stigma around periods.
From the time that a young woman experiences her first period, there is a hush-hush attitude surrounding the topic of a woman’s monthly cycle. Nearly every teenager could share a horror story about a bloody mishap, and many young women experience insecurities around their periods. Teenage boys are rarely taught about menstruation, and even if they are aware, it’s typically not something that is discussed openly.
The media has not helped matters, as anyone who has seen a commercial for feminine hygiene products can attest. The typical ad is as follows: A clean white pad is on display, while a nicely manicured female hand pours a blue-dyed liquid over the pad, seemingly to demonstrate its ability to absorb the mysterious fluid.
Bodyform, a UK-based feminine protection product brand, whose mantra is “Live Fearless,” has kicked off a campaign to normalize the female period. Instead of using a mysterious blue liquid to depict menstruation, Bodyform is using realistic-looking red blood. From menstrual blood being poured on a sanitary pad to the more graphic depiction of blood running down a woman’s leg in the shower, Bodyform is pulling out all the stops.
The ad also depicts a young man buying sanitary products at a convenience store, and a woman resting on a pool float shaped like a pad. The tagline of the video reads: “Periods are normal. Showing them should be too.”
The commercial was created as part of Bodyform’s #bloodnormal campaign. The online campaign reads: “Periods are a natural part of life, so why are they rarely given any screen time? Surely hiding something so normal only adds to the shame and embarrassment many women feel when it comes to their periods. Let’s be open about it.”
According to their website, an online survey of over 10,000 men and women revealed that nearly 75% desire to see a more realistic depiction of periods in advertisements.
The 20 second YouTube advertisement has garnered close to 1.6 million views. While reception has been overwhelmingly positive, there are a few who feel that the ad goes too far.
One response reads, “Please stop trying to glorify periods. We all know what comes out when we’re on our periods and we all know the blue stuff in the ad was meant to be blood, and there’s a reason it was blue, because no one wants to see that sort of stuff on TV. That doesn’t make periods seem shameful, it’s about what is and isn’t appropriate. No one looks forward to their period, it’s simply a natural bodily function if you’re a female and shouldn’t be ‘celebrated.’”
The Bodyform ad did not get to air without an enormous amount of persuasion. Art Director Nadja Lossgott explained, “Every setback shocked and surprised us and it proves just how deep that shame runs. We had to fight tooth and nail with lots of different bodies over many months, scene by scene.”