Periods Are Normal, Says First U.K. Commercial to Use Red Liquid on a Pad

Period blood isn’t blue. Women know this, but it's possible men don't, particularly if they've  been watching feminine hygiene product commercials. For years, advertisements have demonstrated period blood stains on sanitary pads with a mysteriour blue elixir.

Related: The Fight to End Period Shaming Is Going Mainstream

Until now. An advertisement from Bodyform is reportedly the first to use a red liquid to demonstrate a pad's absorbency. “Contrary to popular belief, women don’t bleed blue liquid, they bleed blood,” reads the description of the 20-second spot. With the simple yet novel act of red liquid hitting the pad, a voice issues a familiar claim: “With ultra-absorbent core!” The ad continues with scenes of a man unabashedly buying pads at a convenience store, a woman dressed as a giant pad arriving at a costume party, and blood rolling down a thigh in the shower. “Periods are normal,” the ad concludes. “Showing them should be too.”

10_19_Period_ad Bodyform's newest ad ditches the infamous blue liquid audiences have grown used to seeing in feminine hygiene product commercials for more realistic red "blood." The ad's tagline is "periods are normal. Showing them should be too." Bodyform/YouTube

The commercial is part of Bodyform’s “Blood Normal” campaign, which seeks “to call time on period taboos.” The company cites the results of an online survey that polled men and women between the ages of 13 and 50 living in the U.K., France, Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, China and Malaysia. Three-quarters of respondents said they wanted periods to be presented more realistically in advertising.

"We know that the 'period taboo' is damaging," Bodyform marketing manager Traci Baxter was quoted as saying. "As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma. We believe that like any other taboo, the more people see it, the more normal the subject becomes."

Last year, Bodyform claimed to be the first to show a pad being used as it would be in real life with an ad featuring a trapeze artist putting one in her underwear. It has previously shown blood in a commercial, though it was shed during physical activities like boxing, rock climbing and dancing. The tagline: “No blood should hold you back.”

If it seems absurd that media in 2017 continues to shy away from realistic depictions of menstruation, consider that the word “period,” as in menses, wasn’t even uttered in an American television commercial until Courteney Cox, in her pre-Friends days, said it in a Tampax commercial in 1985. Feminine hygiene products made their television advertising debut just a decade earlier, in 1975.

The infamous blue liquid, which looks like Gatorade or laundry detergent, “paints a wholly unrealistic picture for young girls who have yet to start their periods," Nadia Mendoza, co-founder of The Self-Esteem Team, has said. "Starting your period for the first time is hard enough without the fear associated with the unexpected sight of blood. It's scary. It's unsettling, and it's unnecessary."

The fight to end period shaming is growing, but U.S. advertisers, for the moment, remain color blind. Or maybe the guys making the adds really do think menstrual blood is blue? 

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