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How adverts portray periods

Warning: Your period may come with unexpected side effects. This includes bleeding blue liquid, and getting an overwhelming urge to smile whist leaping in the air.

If femcare adverts are to be believed, then our periods are a time of care-free frolics and joy. I’ve seen many of these adverts in my 26 years and I never connected with the portrayal of that ‘time of the month’.

For a start, we do not bleed blue liquid. This is a fact, yet when I think of ads for tampons, pads and liners I instantly picture that dreaded blue fluid being used to demonstrate product absorbency. As women, we all know the truth; that period blood is red.  Whilst advertisers have started to acknowledge this, it’s taken a surprisingly long time to get here.

The perfect period

Menstruating women have been force-fed ideas of the ‘perfect period’, but does this even exist? Reality is, many women suffer a string of period peeves including bloating, cramps and mood swings, which rarely evoke feelings of intense happiness.

Here’s a roundup of what the ‘perfect period’ looks like courtesy of decades of femcare advertising campaigns:

  • Three cheers for your period

Every month women welcome their periods with a cheer and an air punch. This is a popular message that has been used time and again by brands. Turning a blind eye to PMS, these adverts suggest women should feel elated during the time of the month – Hip, hip hooray!

  • On our periods, we wear white

There are numerous adverts with women sporting white clothes; white shorts, white bikinis, white bodysuits… the list goes on. Whilst these adverts strive to drive confidence in the product, they fail to acknowledge the truth. In my experience, and having had this confirmed by my female peers, white is often low on the list of what to wear during your period, especially a white swimsuit(!)

  • Let the adventure begin

Another popular choice, adverts suggest that our periods inspire adventure. A time to cram in a hike, a swim and even a sky dive. Whilst exercise can help symptoms of PMS, it’s difficult to imagine having such an adventurous period. Personally, I would much rather settle for a gentle yoga session and warm bubble bath, leaving the sky diving for another day.

  • Save us from our periods

A common theme in tampon adverts from the past up to the present represent periods as an invisible cage. They suggest women are trapped by their menstrual flow, reclusive and miserable.  This is where the product can enter as the valiant hero to release the sad female, freeing her up to see friends and attend parties. If this were true, then for approx. 12 weeks a year (3 months) us girls would be down in the dumps. Admittedly, I can admit to feeling rundown during the time of the month but does a tampon solve this problem? Not entirely. Whilst the products are no doubt essential, we can handle ourselves and do not put life completely on hold.

Will these adverts soon become a fixture of the past?

The arrival of realistic blood being used in femcare advertising is a step towards reality. How other brands now respond is crucial to ensure we can finally see an accurate portrayal of periods in adverts. But this poses another question, how much detail can we get away with when society still views some aspects of menstruation as ‘TMI’?

What do you think? Tweet us @totmorganic!

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