In advertisements about sanitary napkins, the most important words and images are generally pseudonymned. For example, the word ‘periods’ becomes ‘Woh waale din’ (that time of the month). But the most prominent feature of the advertisements are blue-coloured period blood. Sanitary napkin companies refrain from showing what actual period blood looks like. Nope, they always have to be blue liquids poured into sanitary pads by white coat lab dudes. Because lord save the world if a man knows what period blood really looks like! Some brands would rather have entire swimming pools soaked up by a napkin than show what period blood actually look like.
But a sanitary napkin company called Bodyform in the UK is here to change things up a bit. According to a report, it has launched an advertising campaign called ‘Blood Normal’ which shows the actual colour of period blood by pouring a red-coloured liquid on the sanitary napkin, instead of a blue-coloured one. The idea behind the campaign is to normalise periods and to break a few taboos associated to them. It’s primary tagline says ‘Periods are normal, showing them should be too.’
Taboo does play an important role in the way menstruation-related advertisements make their way into print and visual screens. In a country where men still awkwardly shift in their seats at the mention of ‘periods’ and mothers still insist on not talking about periods openly or even the embarrassed whispers of ‘do you have a pad?’ in a room full of women (I will never understand why women whisper this), advertisements that depict what actually happens to women during periods would do a fat lot of good. Bodyform’s advertisement gives more than one lesson in how to handle period topics like a boss. It not only depicts the real colour of period blood, but also shows a man buying sanitary napkins like he’d pick up groceries. It wonderfully blends periods into an everyday picture of normalcy, as it should be.
Meanwhile, sanitary napkins in India continue to show blue-coloured period blood and women who have the most fabricated smile on their faces during their ‘woh waale din‘. While there has been progress around conversations about menstruation, the mainstream advertising world still needs to take a leaf out of Bodyform’s book and start being more realistic about depicting periods in their advertisements. Maybe a good place to start would be getting the colour of period blood right.