America’s Least Favorite Relative

By Becka Wall

Girls and women are all familiar with it: the dreaded monthly visit from Aunt Flo.

Always Pad Ad

She means well, but man, can she screw up a pool party or a special event. Americans have always seemed to be majorly uncomfortable with periods. Women in commercials for

feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons) are shown dancing around in white skirts, synchronized swimming in pools, and laughing hysterically as they walk down the street. Marketing campaigns show blood as a blue liquid that looks Gatorade – and until recently, there was no red shown in association with periods in either print or television advertisements.

That’s right – an ad for Always ultra thin with Leak Guard has a single red spot in the middle of the pad in their print advertisements for the product.

This is a historic moment – the first realistic interpretation of what color women’s menstrual blood is! But the impact is limited – the ad only appears in print, and there has never been red shown on television on a pad or tampon. There’s also been a movement to get rid of the cheesy schmaltz that comes along with tampon and pad commercials.

It’s almost hilarious that these things are considered such breakthroughs – seeing as, when a woman is on her period, one red dot hardly even covers the first hour of the 3 – 7 day event. And the movement to make period ads less cheesy and expose marketing techniques is admirable, but she is still racially ambiguous and wearing all white – those subliminal messages are just called to our attention.

Americans have always had a problem with accepting this decidedly messy and unladylike period (ha! period pun.) of every month – when women get cramps, cravings, and constant trips to the bathroom. We’re marketed products to only have our period a couple of times a year instead of 12. Women on television are shown rarely getting or discussing their periods. The website TV Tropes has a huge piece on this – the topic is only discussed on television in episodes discussing pregnancy or exploring a girl’s first period – her entrance into growing up and puberty. Sometimes it’s used for comedy, but typically it’s shown as turning a woman into a PMS nightmare and a topic to force men to leave. Girls in sci-fi and action movies never get their periods.

I don't think a maxi-pad would fit under there anyway...

The list goes on and on, but you get the point – women’s periods are a taboo topic on television – and apparently, so is realistic depictions on the airwaves. After all, what does it say about us that a single red dot in the middle of a menstrual pad is a groundbreaking move in the world of advertising?

Becka also writes for her own blog, Becka Tells All.

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24 Comments on “America’s Least Favorite Relative”

  1. Super Interesting. When I first got mine, I was so embarrassed and didn’t want to talk to anyone, including my mom, about it. You’re so right though. Periods are never worked into movie plots or story lines for sitcoms. Just like other bathroom activities…maybe that’s why no one really mentions it truthfully?? Either way, great post xo!

    • Randi says:

      You have shed a ray of sunhnsie into the forum. Thanks!

      • Horacio says:

        Hola recien lo decsargo, lo provare para luego decir como me fue, pero les adelanto que esto de los softwares es muy importante para el desarrollo de los universitarios y no la porqueria de esos ingenieros que ensef1an a lo antiguo, es decir solo teoria

      • Evelyn says:

        This info is the cat’s pamsaja!

      • Puput says:

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    • Chyna says:

      Hahahaha. I’m not too bgriht today. Great post!

  2. feministcupcake says:

    A couple of years ago I was in a Feminist classroom and we were discussing the film SuperBad – I don’t know if you saw it but there is a scene in the film where a drunk girl dances with one of the guys and her period gets on his pant leg. Those of us who were well read in feminism viewed the period differently thatn others – we were making the argument that the scene was over the top and didn’t value the sacred force – the cycle of a woman’s ability to create life – inother words we were saying that the period was a blessing not a curse – and that the treatment of it in the film was degrading. After much talk of this nature a girl non of us knew too well freaked out and piped up saying – that we were gross – that the scene was gross and that discussions of the period were not meant for the classroom. Really? The period is natural – and the fact that we fail to discuss it openly is just another way of shaming women and fearing the human body.

  3. This is so true it’s sickening. It’s a sad thing that advertising for these products sucks, even worse is the cost of the products themselves, the mark up must be over 100%. About a year ago or so there were ads for those new Kotex pads and tampons that come in a black box; the ads were realistic in that they didn’t show Gatorade being poured on to them, but in that they showed a woman looking really tired and saying things like this: “. . . And by the third day, I feel like twirling. . . ” then she rolled her eyes telling the viewer how stupid that statement is. I only saw it once, late at night, maybe during “The Daily Show”. Anyway, those ads were pulled really quickly because they depict the bleeding woman as we really are during our periods; tired, grumpy,and crampy. Instead, we are shown unrealistic, vapid ads for vastly overpriced products that lie to us about what menstruation is really like. I hate that we treat this as a curse in this culture; it’s nauseating to say the least. Let’s work together to destigmatize the flow!

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  5. Kenelm says:

    Four score and seven mnuties ago, I read a sweet article. Lol thanks

  6. Sondi says:

    Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my quesotins are answered!

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