Caoimhe McGee, Contributor.
When I first heard about Bodyform’s new ad, my initial reaction was one of surprise; how could this be the first advertisement for period products to actually feature period blood? I quickly got over my surprise, however, as I snapped back to reality and remembered how much of a stigma surrounds periods.
In my eyes, an advertisement for a product that soaks up blood should be no different to an ad for a washing powder or stain remover, where they showcase the product doing its job, in order to sell it to its targeted consumers. If sanitary pads and tampons were seen as semantically as this, simply as personal hygiene products, their advertisements would have featured blood from the beginning.
Instead, there is an entire culture surrounding periods, where they’re considered to be something crude and inappropriate; something to be discrete about; something that’s not brought up in polite conversation. Most notably, menstruation is something that most children don’t learn about until they’re twelve or thirteen, despite it being a natural part of the human experience that a large portion of the population goes through. Even then, in my school the class was split up when we were given the sex ed. lesson in primary school so only the girls were taught about periods, further estranging the boys from the concept.
I recently had to make a quick run to the shop across the street to buy tampons after Mother Nature caught me off-guard at my Dad’s house, and as I made my purchase I wondered whether I should be subtle about it when I returned to my Dad’s. A large part of me didn’t care about being seen carrying a pack of tampons because I know that that’s ridiculous. Still, the little doubting voice in the back of my head lead me to ask the cashier for a bag, which, after giving me a nod of mutual understanding, she wrapped around the pack in an attempt to conceal the logo and preserve my dignity.
I left the shop wondering whether I would’ve been judged had I not asked for a bag, and had walked across the street and into my Dad’s, tampons fully visible, no subtlety about it. I shouldn’t be judged. I shouldn’t even have to wonder. Buying sanitary products should be as regular as buying toothpaste or toilet paper, since it is just as necessary.
There is something intrinsically misogynistic about the taboo that surrounds period products and the way in which women, as well as trans people, are made to feel ashamed of their bodily functions and reproductive systems. The only way to break down this stigma is to normalise the idea of periods and open up a dialogue about why it’s taken so long to get to the point we’re now at. Bodyform’s ad, although long overdue, is a significant and important first step in doing so.
Please find below Bodyform’s Advertisement: