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Periods are normal. Three simple words in a sentence that need to create a revolution in the country. Periods. Are. Normal.
We’ve been fighting age-old dogmas where our mothers and grandmothers prohibited us from entering kitchens, touching pickles and being around men during our menstrual cycles because we would be tainting that environment.
Then, came a slight change - coloured television began to show advertisements of sanitary napkins. Women rejoiced because television in India was, for the very first time, normalising periods.
One slight problem though; period blood, just like normal blood, is red; not blue.
And that’s where international sanitary-ware brand, Bodyform comes in and really shakes things up! In their 20-sec advertisement, the brand shows a woman actually having her period! Yes, blood dripping down her thighs in the shower, and all. What’s more? The liquid poured on the pad isn’t blue and pristine-looking. It’s hardcore, period blood.
The campaign, called, #BloodNormal - which released on 17th October 2017, on their YouTube channel and has already garnered approximately 1,444,514 views - is the need of the hour when it comes to fighting against prejudices and taboos around women and sexuality. And menstruation makes up for a large part of it.
Paying close attention, you’ll notice the realness of the visuals shown in the ad - a guy picking up a packet of sanitary pads for a woman. Real period blood on a pad; and on a woman’s skin. It’s where most ads for periods go wrong. The artificiality of the portrayal. And it’s rather strange that after years of fighting sexual and gender injustice - legalising LGBTQ rights and all - we still need to skirt the issue surrounding period blood.
Brands like Whisper, Sofy, Stayfree and all may be trying to revolutionise period comfort for women, in terms of the science, techniques and fabrics being used to develop pads and tampons. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where it all stops.
TVCs still show women having drainage problem while they sleep! If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is. And that’s not all.
For aeons now menstruation has been the place where no one must venture. We continue to call it ‘chums’; being down and God knows what; because, somewhere, that’s where the taboo is born - in our heads. We’re still trying to accustom ourselves to publicly acknowledging that we’re menstruating, plain and simple. We’ve been trained to treat a woman’s period as the white elephant in the room that we’ll all just turn a blind eye to. As long as it’s happening.
Why is it that we’re ready to show a rape scene in a movie for a good few minutes - in the most graphic way possible - but, dare we show real blood on a sanitary pad in a 20-second TV commercial; all hell would break loose. Why are we so pro showing violence and bloodshed so openly; but, yet so averse to a little period blood on a napkin? More so, when the latter is supposed to the more normal of two scenarios.
What a strange and distorted world do we live in?
While we’re on the road to change - penalising rape culture and normalising LGBTQ culture - maybe we should also realise period culture and start showing it for what it really is? And this is very much part of the feminist movement we so grandly harp on. We’re flaunting body hair and talking about real women; equal rights and the wage gap. We’re still not talking about the most basic, rawest form of womanhood that is made to hide within the confines of the panty-liners of our underwear.
Doesn’t that reek just a little of double standards; even amongst women?
Maybe we should start by talking more openly about our period blood. This ad by Bodyform is definitely one way to get the conversation going.
Who’s going to raise their voice next?