When I first saw Bodyform’s new period ad, I have to admit, I cringed. I’m not very good at seeing blood. But, I have been waiting for an ad like this for a while now. One that shows real blood in the context of a menstrual product:
Women bleed in sports all the time, but it doesn’t hold them back. Why should periods be any different? What struck me as very brave in this ad is the realness of it. But frankly, it’s exactly this realness that kinda made me nauseous, especially the ballerina’s feet. That gave me a huge stomach quencher.
I cringe at seeing blood in this context because it’s not on a monthly basis that I fall or perform sports to an extreme that I end up with a bleeding wound. Period blood, on the other hand, is normal and familiar to me. I see it every month and I know what it is. It doesn’t make me nauseous and I handle the emptying of my menstrual cup like a pro.
This is how everybody should feel about menstrual fluid. They should feel like they know what it is and not be freaked out by it. Period blood is normal, it’s not dirty, nor disgusting. I’m not asking for ads to depict the emptying of a menstrual cup or dangling a bloody tampon in front of the camera – they’re not aesthetic and would not help at all in accepting periods.
But at least ads should stop showing what periods most certainly are not: blue, an easy-peasy event in a woman’s life (so easy-peasy that we’d best not talk about it anymore), a light spot on my underwear. Just no.
So why am I so crazy about this period ad? Because it just liberated me, you and everybody with a period:
1. Demystification. No more showing periods as something they’ll never be.
Bye-bye stupid disillusioned mythical creature who apparently has her menstruation and chooses to wear tight white pants and go horse riding. Bye-bye blue period blood! Need I say more?
Although this period ad doesn’t show menstrual fluid per se, it does show blood. Just the way it comes out of our bodies either from a wound or from menstruation.
That’s why it’s revolutionary. Periods are red, not blue, or purple or pink. They may have clots. They may sometimes be a thickish liquid or have a brownish color. That’s what it is. It ain’t pretty and it shouldn’t pretend to be. As soon as we stop making it look like something it is not, people will stop being so disgusted when they find out. Of the many things periods can be, there is one thing it most definitely is not: disgusting or shameful.
2. This is a huge step towards unapologetic periods.
The moment the media stops showing this false illusion of menstruating women, the damage and harm caused by this idea will diminish and finally stop. No, we do not feel like rollicking in white sheets and white underwear while menstruating. We don’t sleep better because of a perfumed pad. Stop spreading the idea that periods are light, easy, fun. It can be for some, but for the majority it’s not a thing you can just lightly brush off your shoulder.
Of course, we wish periods were like that, but it just isn’t the reality for most women. Spreading this illusion nags at our self-confidence when we can’t be that cool, easy-going person while menstruating. That we prefer to wear something baggy that day rather than those white tight skinny jeans.
I remember how proud I was when an ex-boyfriend once said to me: “Wow, I never notice when you’re on your period! You never act crazy”. I was so successful in covering up cramps, mood swings and all that jazz that he actually thought he could skip having any contact with it ever. That was hard work and took quite a few painkillers and a lot of willpower.
The only way he found out, I actually did menstruate, was when we wanted to have sex and I told him “I have my period”. Very surprised he would say: “Oh really? I didn’t notice! Bummer.” and then decided to put sex off for the next couple of days. Of course, I was too embarrassed to suggest we at least try to have sex, nevertheless (I did once, got rejected and it took a lot of time to get over it).
I remember how proud I was when an ex-boyfriend once said to me: “Wow, I never notice when you’re on your period!”
Simply not putting the idea of that type of woman in our heads is a huge step towards stopping us women from feeling weird about our periods. Or even worse, ashamed. Feeling like we have to apologize for not being the light-hearted fun girl in white long dresses when we’re menstruating is not okay.
3. No blood should hold us back.
No, it should not. It should not hold us back from wearing what we feel comfortable in while menstruating. It should not hold us back from discussing it, if we feel uneasy about a symptom. Do you know how many worries could easily be eliminated if women knew what actually were normal? That blood clots are normal? How much blood is normal? Do you know?
So, thank you Bodyform, for taking a step towards the disruption of this ridiculous illusion. It’s a step towards helping us not to feel ashamed about our period. Because it’s not discreet, not blue, and definitely not just a single red dot on a pad.
It should not hold us back from taking all the unapologetic bathroom breaks we want, going home early from work because we’re exhausted or have bad cramps and definitely not for being cranky because period pains are killing us.
It should not hold us back or make us feel embarrassed about asking if period sex is okay (informing the partner beforehand is a thing to do, but don’t ever feel bad).
May this be the beginning of the end of the mysterious women that has her period and runs around in white, flowing dresses on the beach. RIP.
The message is clear and we are ready: No blood should hold us back.
Never. Ever. Amen.