Main Image: A still from Bodyform’s Blood Normal advertisement.
Celebration is in the air as Bodyform has become the first company to depict realistic ‘period blood’ instead of the blue liquid that is typically featured on sanitary product advertisements. The blue liquid it was always assumed was shown instead of red liquid in a bid to disassociate viewers from the actual content of the advertisement (i.e. the reality of what periods are like) and because of a fear that showing red liquid to demonstrate blood would ‘gross out’ viewers.
Since the word ‘period’ instead of other common euphemisms such as, ‘that time of the month’, was not actually said on an sanitary product advertisement until an 1985 ‘Tampax’ advertisement featuring Courtney Cox; it’s not a shock that even in advertisements promoting sanitary products periods were still something taboo.
However, there has been a welcome shift in attitudes in recent years thanks to the tireless efforts of charities advocating for menstrual dignity, like the charity Binti, which aims to dispel the stigma’s surrounding menstruation across the world.
This has led to many period companies promoting advertisements focusing on blood more and more within the advertisements, such as Bodyform themselves before this new advertisement came out. In their video ‘Blood’, they show women bleeding from their knees, their face and their feet, but still didn’t depict this as being directly related to their period.
This new Bodyform campaign entitled #blood normal changes that and right from the opening shot we are shown a hand pouring a vial of red liquid onto a sanitary pad. Why then did Bodyform finally take the plunge from implying a focus on depicting the reality of periods to actually visibly breaking a massive advertising taboo?
‘We know that the ‘period taboo’ is damaging. It means people are more likely to struggle with the effects of period poverty, whilst others struggle with their mental health and wellbeing.’
‘As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma, making it even easier for anyone to talk about periods, now and in the future.’
The advertisement in fact makes it it’s mission to tackle a number of stigmas surrounding menstruation to showing a man buying a sanitary product in a shop, to seeing a girl in a red swimsuit floating in a pool on an inflatable sanitary towel, to seeing someone bleeding in the shower implying that they’re on their period (it’s sad in itself that I’m still grateful that scene did not end in a full on Carrie showdown). The advertisement ends with the words: ‘Periods are normal. Showing them should be too’.
Something, which has been known to groups promoting period positivity for years. In fact, the campaign to have blue liquid dismissed from period advertising because of the way it perpetuates shame about menstruation has been a driving force for the charity Binti since their inception.
Something, which can be seen in their video ‘Blue Liquid Vs Blood #SmashShame’ in which they show young period expert Aaron showcasing red liquid on a sanitary towel, and proclaiming that we all know what the red liquid is and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed of it.
Founder and CEO of Binti International, Manjit K. Gill had this to say about the new Bodyform advertisement:
‘I am so excited that after campaigning for the past 2 years to eliminate blue water from advertising the absorbency of sanitary products that Bodyform has chosen to take the lead and stop.
When we met with their agency they commended us on our campaign and agreed it was time to make the change. We believe that effects of the sub conscious messaging that adverts have on young children really impact their belief patterns. The creative techniques perpetuate the secrecy and shame of not talking about menstruation and hiding it. It is a very normal bodily function and for years it has been kept a secret in fear of the viewers knowing that women bleed.
I have been in active discussions with all the leading brands in the market and am positive that we will move forward as an industry. I especially look forward to the day when all brands who are doing tremendous work educating those at puberty age also make a same change in their materials.’