People / Resolutions

Question, why are we still treating menstruation as something shameful?


It's a genuine question that I think many of us would like the answer to.

Since 50% of our world's population have menstruated or will menstruate at some point, isn't it baffling that we have to cloak the whole process as a shameful secret?

People who experience periods didn't ask for them. It's something that just happens. It's natural, it's normal. But, they're also uncomfortable, painful and often hard to deal with. But discussing them in a helpful and compassionate way is taboo. And heaven forbid if anyone or any company tries to discuss their occurrence casually. Apparently, the whole topic is something to kept secret - and a recent Facebook advertisement ban only confirms this.

Period underwear brand Modibodi, recently released a campaign, ‘The New Way to Period’. It was a bid to end the centuries-old view that periods are ‘gross’ or shameful -  in addition to heralding a more sustainable approach to managing menstruation.

According to Modibodi:

"After three reviews by Facebook’s policy team, the 60-second film has been barred for advertising use for violating guidelines regarding shocking, sensational, disrespectful or excessively violent content...

Facebook has indicated for the film to be used for advertising, three offending scenes which use the colour red to represent menstrual blood have to be edited out."

Likewise, YouTube also initially banned the ad. But the company later rescinded the decision following a review.

Since the initial publication of this article, Modibodi has advised on the afternoon of October 1 that Facebook has rescinded its original decision and is now allowing the ad to run unedited. This decision came following the torrent of press around the initial ban.

This is certainly not the first time something like this has happened.

Women who grew up watching Libra or Kotex commercials will be very used to seeing bright blue liquids showing off the absorbency power of certain of sanitary products. And there's a reason these brands are almost required to use a blue liquid - because it's the furthest colour from red. A bid to distance us from the reality of menstruation, lest someone be made 'uncomfortable' by the topic.

A similar situation arose in 2019 with Libra's #bloodnormal campaign. In a new video advertisement, the brand chose to use a red liquid instead of a blue one in order to offer a more realistic look and to breakdown stigma. The ad received over 600 complaints, many arguing that the ad was 'disgusting'. Thankfully the Australian body that handles these matters dismissed the complaints and allowed the ad to air.

The pattern continues. Modibodi CEO and Founder, Kristy Chong criticised Facebook’s recent decision on the brand's 2020 ad as outdated.

“Our aim for this film was to open people’s minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function for women. It was not made to be deliberately sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods.

“We’ve used red to represent blood from day one and ‘The New Way to Period’ shows the real side of menstruation and that there are better options available than eco-damaging disposable pads, liners and tampons.

“It’s the twenty-first century and it’s disappointing Facebook doesn’t want to normalise the conversation around menstruation. We also note that other media platforms have not taken the same direction as Facebook,” says Kristy.

The ban coincides with Pantone's launch of a new shade of red: Period. It's part of a campaign and partnership with Swedish-based brand INTIMINA to end the stigma around menstruation. According to Pantone, Period is an "energising and dynamic warm red shade encouraging period positivity".

As the volume increases to normalise menstruation, why are some companies still choosing to ban its mention? It's clear that if anything, we need more campaigns and initiatives like Modibodi's. Facebook's ban was archaic to say the least - especially to demand any visual of red be edited out.

Recent research by Modibodi found that one in three young girls are afraid of talking about periods. Is it any wonder why?


Stay inspired, follow us.

Image: Modibodi