Gemma Styles: Shock Horror - Women Bleed
Periods shouldn't be a huge event.
Rapturous applause around the globe - there's now a period advert that features ACTUAL HUMAN BLOOD. From women and everything! Bodyform, age old purveyor of sanitary products, has released the new campaign, which features women getting shit done in various physical and sporting fields - taking some knocks in the process.
This shouldn't be a huge event. Most women of childbearing age, as well as others with female anatomy, experience menstrual bleeding for a good percentage of the time. From the time you start your period to when you reach menopause, chances are you could be "on" for 25% of your days. Of course there are exceptions to this because of medical circumstances, contraceptive choices, hormone treatments etc. - but around the globe there are two billion people dealing with their monthlies on the regular. How are we still scared to see a bit of blood on TV?
The problem is that the 'shame' of periods is deeply ingrained into our behaviour. Talking about periods has, for a long time, been something of a taboo and not something to be discussed... except for in hushed, secretive tones in a tampon emergency when you've been caught short. Even though this is silly, societal trends have lodged into our brains that periods are not something to be discussed openly, or that they're something to be embarrassed about. Even with these burdens on us, in the western world we have a pretty good deal, with the majority of people having good access to sanitary products and at least some education on what periods are. Around the world, many women don't have these luxuries - some girls have no idea what a period is until they get it, some think it is a disease and others miss school because they just don't have the supplies or facilities there. Some women aren't allowed to enter their places of worship... or even wash themselves.
Considering how enlightened we are about menstruation compared to other parts of the world, you wouldn't think there'd be a ~bloody~ issue! What does a period mean? You haven't become pregnant that month. That's it. So why are we still seeing adverts with joyful women skipping about in tennis skirts, explained by clinical blue liquid in substitution of any blood? I'm not suggesting we get a full frontal demonstration of sanitary towels in every advert - but this kind of media does subtly get under our skin and make us think that being on your period is something to be ashamed about.
The fact that a period advert featuring human blood is causing such a stir just goes to show what a weird and dodgy situation we're still in - well done to Bodyform for doing what people have been scared to for too long. It might be a small step, but it's nonetheless a movement towards destigmatising something incredibly common; by seeing women bleeding in any capacity it helps us to soak in the message that, no, there's nothing disgusting about it. And no, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Women are going to get on stuff whether or not they're on their periods... probably without the skimpy white skirts. It's probably raining.