Most women know the reality of periods is not that clean-looking blue water they pour on pristine sanitary towels in the ads – it’s more a mess of red splodges and dark brown patches, paired with the continued panic of ‘am I leaking? It definitely feels like I’m leaking…’.
Since the birth of television, advertising around period paraphernalia has featured quick shot of a sanitary towel or tampon, glossed over with shots of oh-so jolly women diving into a pool, laughing over lunch, then dancing the night away. Not a hint of women curled up in bed with a hot water bottle or wiping the blood off their thighs after forgetting to change their pad.
However, Bodyform is about to change all of that. Its latest ad, entitled ‘Blood Normal’, is the first to show something that actually looks like real period blood, as well as many other reassuring scenes — the familiar ‘sending your boyfriend out to buy an emergency pack’ scenario, followed by a striking shot of period blood running down a woman’s leg in the shower.
The whole thing comes to a climax with the slogan: “Periods are normal. Showing them should be too.”
And it those eight words, Bodyform have said it all. For too long, periods have been represented in a rose-tinted way, with adverts showing women getting on with life as normal while menstruating — if not seemingly even better — rather than capturing the awkward and icky moments that actually occur.
With period poverty and shaming both very real and very current issues — one in ten women can’t afford sanitary products, while many teenagers are missing out on school because of this — it’s about time the conversation around periods became a more honest and open one. Better, more realistic representation is step one.