For two billion women and girls worldwide, periods are a monthly reality. And yet, talking about them is still very much taboo.
The lengths people go to, just to avoid using the word ‘period’, is testament to society’s awkwardness about the subject. For years, marketers have used the infamous blue liquid to demonstrate their products.
A bold new campaign by leading global feminine hygiene brand, Libresse, is set to encourage positive cultural change around euphemisms. The ground-breaking campaign, called #BloodNormal launching in South Africa this month, anticipates ending period shaming by showing realistic depictions of periods in a short film.
Scenes showing a guy buying pads, a woman asking for a pad across the dinner table and school children passing a pad across the classroom send a strong visual message that periods are normal. Towards the end of the film we see women who are in pain, while the blue liquid has at last been replaced with a more fitting red.
Libresse brand manager Mpho Nojiwa says for years women have been subjected to the discomfort of openly addressing menstruation conversations and testosterone – fueled stereotypical ideas that men don’t buy sanitary products. #BloodNormal aims to debunk myths and educate society about normalising periods by confronting these sort of gender -biased stereotypes.
Periods are normal. Showing them should be too
The campaign tackles period shame head-on: women endure painful cramps and, most significantly, there’s real blood, as in bright, red blood, not the blue stuff. It appears on a pad, we even see it trickling down the legs of a woman taking a shower.
“There has been a huge gap for health education on puberty and adolescence. It is crucial that we engage girls in health education in order to demystify menstrual – related myths and break down societal taboos,” says Nojiwa.
Internationally, the integrated campaign also included elements such as “period underwear” created by French lingerie company Dessu, pad-shaped pool floats, which was a short film competition and even stand-up comedy performed by 12-year-old talent Saffron Herndon.
The conversation is shifting
Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it, and Libresse’s campaign hits the SA market at the same time as trending news that a new set of “period emojis” depicting a red droplet of blood, ovaries, a pad, etc will be introduced in the next emoji collection for phones in March.
“Girls need information and it’s our duty as parents to shift the harmful gender norms that surround menstruation. #BloodNormal aims to change mindsets, spark conversations, and allow women to embrace periods”, Nojiwa concludes.
It is, after all, a perfectly natural bit of blood.