We're so accustomed to seeing period blood depicted as blue liquid in advertising that many of us never even question it. Marketers may think they're making periods more palatable by sanitising them in this way, but they're also telling women and girls that their natural bodies are dirty, shameful and unfit for public (read: male) consumption.
So three cheers for Bodyform, which has decided to present period blood honestly, as red – not blue (gasp!) – in its latest ad campaign in a bid to normalise periods and break the taboo that depressingly still exists even in the UK.
A new short film from the brand, part of its #bloodnormal campaign, shows periods and period blood in true-to-life contexts: a woman showering with period blood running down her leg, another showing up to a fancy dress party as a bloodied sanitary towel and a young man nonchalantly buying pads from a shop.
While Bodyform told Refinery29 that they didn't use genuine period blood for health and safety reasons (but rather a substitute made from corn syrup and food colouring), the move is an admirable step in the right direction. The film will be shown across its social and digital channels, with the aim of "breaking taboos via positive conversation and debate".
And it's a hugely necessary and important discussion to be having – a fifth of women say the lack of open discussion about periods has damaged their confidence and nearly half (42%) believe future generations of girls will suffer in a similar way if the silence persists, according to recent research commissioned by the brand. In an attempt to combat this, Bodyform will also conduct free educational classes in schools, which will raise issues surrounding mental health and self-esteem, as well as the period 'taboo'.
“We were so shocked by the results of our research that we publicly vowed to address the continued silence around periods," said Traci Baxter, Bodyform's marketing manager. "We know that the 'period taboo' is damaging. It means people are more likely to struggle with the effects of period poverty, while others struggle with their mental health and wellbeing."
The company believes that, like any other taboo, the more people see period blood depicted honestly and openly in advertising, the more normal it will become. "For Bodyform, after showing real blood and a real, in-situ sanitary towel [in 2016], bringing the two together was a natural next step."
You'd probably be quite alarmed if you looked down and saw blue liquid on your pad or tampon, so share Bodyform's video and don't let other companies get away with misleading portrayals of menstruation.
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