Farewell to the twentysomethings giggling and splashing each other in the sea. Goodbye to the rollerblading teenagers and to a 1980s Courteney Cox in a leotard and leggings. Never again to the strange blue liquid that confused teenage girls everywhere. Because it happened. It finally happened: an ad for sanitary products actually featured period blood.
As part of their new campaign, #bloodnormal, Bodyform released a new ad that aims to challenge the taboo around periods with a shot of a menstruating woman. The shot itself is nothing graphic – it’s a close-up of a woman’s thigh while she’s standing in the shower; her blood is mixed with the shower’s spray and it runs quickly down her leg. Somehow – and believe me, this is something I never thought I’d say – it’s actually really beautiful. It’s only two seconds long, sandwiched between clips of a man picking up sanitary pads from a supermarket, a woman lying on a pool toy shaped like a pad and a woman at a fancy-dress party, fully outfitted in period paraphernalia.
On top of that, instead of the infamous blue liquid, Bodyform has used red liquid in its demonstrations of the pads' absorbency. Nadia Mendoza, from The Self-Esteem Team, which provides free educational classes to school children about mental health, believes this change will help send the message to the younger generation that periods aren’t something they should be ashamed of: “The use of blue liquid to represent period blood can be damaging. It not only suggests that period blood is unsightly, shameful and something that should live firmly behind closed doors, it also paints a wholly unrealistic picture for young girls who are yet to start their periods. Starting your period for the first time is hard enough without the fear associated with the unexpected sight of blood. It’s scary. It’s unsettling and it’s unnecessary.”
One in five women said their confidence was damaged because periods weren’t discussed with them openly and another 42 per cent believe girls’ confidence will continue to be at risk in the future if this silence continues
The new ad aims to show that periods are normal and that talking about them and showing them on television should be, too. According to a survey Bodyform conducted, one in five women polled said their confidence was damaged because periods weren’t discussed with them openly and another 42 per cent believe girls’ confidence will continue to be at risk in the future if this silence continues.
Traci Baxter, from Bodyform, explains: “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. We believe that, like any other taboo, the more people see it, the more normal the subject becomes.”
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new norm in advertising standards for periods and that the last generation of girls who are expecting their periods to be blue is now behind us.