Advertising and What it Tells Us About Periods

11-year-old me thought she knew all about periods with all those advertisements on TV, but boy, was I wrong. The purpose of advertising should be to educate audiences, not strip them of all information.

Advertisements often stigmatise the natural process of menstruation by veiling the truth and projecting a false facade. Getting your period is, unfortunately, not a sudden burst of energy that pushes young women in white to run marathons. Advertisements use the carefree woman to show how much she trusts a company’s sanitary product; not only is she skydiving while on her period, she is doing it while wearing white because she will definitely not stain.

Then there’s the blue liquid: an easy, calming colour – nothing like the vibrant red of period blood, full of clots. Though blood is completely okay when it comes to medical dramas or horror movies, menstrual product advertisements show a discreet blue liquid because period blood is “too graphic” or “too repulsive” to show on TV.  Menstruators do not bleed blue, and if you do, you should probably visit a doctor right away.

Advertising isn’t just a brilliant way to market a product; it’s a tool, shaped by the current status quo, to inform viewers about the prevalent culture that exists in society and where we stand as a community. Period advertisements have come a long way – from men complaining about having to suffer through their wives’ menstrual cramps to UK’s Bodyform (a feminine hygiene brand) showing red liquid to depict blood for the first time on TV. In the modern age, where advertisements have become a powerful medium to empower and educate young women, shying away from displaying the reality of periods, in its true sense, only strengthens the stigma around menstruation, preventing the normalisation of a natural process. Periods are normal – their portrayal should be too.

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