Recently, a campaign ad starring Radhika Apte, showed red blood coming out of a red balloon. While the ad demonstrated the problem of heavy menstrual flow, a common phenomenon experienced by all menstruating women, it was a landmark feat in removing the stigma around the period. Periods are normal and real and so is the blood, so why do we hypothesize it to be the colour “blue” as if it would reduce the normality of a biological phenomenon that every woman suffers?
One can only ponder that secrecy and shame surrounding menstruation is so deep that we are compelled to view it as an unnatural phenomenon. Media representation is a powerful source to inform and empower people. Unfortunately, their virtual discreet manner of advertising has only comforted us into admitting that period is an abnormality that makes women bleed blue! In fact, in the early days, ads did not even include the product description and sanitary napkins were branded in plain brown paper boxes to hide what was inside. Sometimes the trope of menstrual ads did not even mention the term period but gave a hint of it in the “that time of the month” phrase and showed women running or gliding over their worries while wearing white trousers!
Discomfort about menstruation and the use of mystery blue liquid in commercials highlights the consequences of ancient beliefs about menstruation and its impurities. Menstrual blood tends to be classified as human waste, akin to faeces and urine that requires disposal. Hence, many euphemisms are used to refer to them. The flagrant use of the colour blue for women or riding on horseback in white trousers during “that time of the month”, is only but a metaphor! The reality is there is no such thing as a happy period and many women struggle with period cramps and discomfort of period stains. There are mood swings and insatiable hunger and sometimes women suffer from heavy flows and/or prolonged bleeding, medically known as Menorrhagia. This is the reality!
The time has come for more brands to step up and stop their share in perpetuating period shame. This means tossing out the white pants, blue liquid and horse-riding women and presenting it as a phenomenon that subverts societal misconceptions and end period-shaming once and for all.
Blogger, G. (2018, August 7). How Ads Have Period-Shamed Us For Decades. Aisle. https://periodaisle.com/blogs/all/how-ads-have-period-shamed-us-for-decades
Joshi, S. (2020, July 20). A new TV ad shows period blood as red, instead of blue. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/a-new-tv-ad-shows-period-blood-as-red-instead-of-blue/articleshow/77066824.cms
Thorpe, J. R. (2017, October 20). Why Do Period Product Commercials Use Blue Liquid? The Practice Has A Long & Bizarre History. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/p/why-do-period-product-commercials-use-blue-liquid-the-practice-has-a-long-bizarre-history-2957963