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#BloodNormal: The importance of Bodyform's new campaign

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For too long, menstruation has been unfairly associated with red shame. Periods may not necessarily be pleasant, but they are a healthy, normal and natural part of female life.

Bodyform's #BloodNormal campaign is revolutionary. In the hopes of breaking down the period taboo, the advert boldly depicts periods with blood-red liquid in their advert.

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'Blood Normal', Bodyform advert, YouTube (screenshot)

Inherent in every previous advert that used blue liquid to depict periods is an implicit notion that bloody periods are too shocking, or even shameful, to be accurately portrayed in mainstream advertising campaigns.

These unhealthy and unrealistic depictions of periods with blue liquid have likely been impacting how menstruation is discussed in everyday conversations.

A "Period Taboo" survey by Bodyform found that one in five women felt less confident because periods were not openly discussed with them. This disappointing, though not wholly surprising, statistic must change.

In Bodyform's advert, the red liquid is seen immediately and unmistakably, as a female hand carefully pours it onto a sanitary towel. Repeated references to blood throughout this advert reinforce the message that periods are normal.

Although this use of red liquid in a sanitary-product advert is ground-breaking, it has taken too long to happen.

Bodyform's new campaign comes over 24 years after the banning of the Vesper Silhouette sanitary products advert, which showed women talking openly about their periods. Claire Rayner discussed the advert in The Independent in 1993, saying "I hate to think what sort of uproar there would have been had we used red".

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'Blood Normal', Bodyform advert, YouTube (screenshot)

Traci Baxter, marketing manager for Bodyform, says "we fundamentally believe that periods are normal and that showing them should be too."

She tells me, "periods are a part of everyday life, but missing from everyday conversation and often misrepresented in, or missing from, mainstream culture. We want to change that."

Since the launch of the campaign, Bodyform have seen positive responses from audiences.

"During the launch week positive sentiment was at a huge 71 per cent", says Baxter, adding that it is "fantastic given the level of healthy debate surrounding the content."

In recent years leading up to Bodyform's campaign, the historical stigma attached to menstruation has been increasingly challenged and broken down. The 'End Tampon Tax' campaign, led by Laura Coryton, has highlighted the injustices faced by women regarding their periods.

Since starting the campaign, the petition has had over 320,000 signatures on Change.org. The incredible success of this campaign has seen a tampon-tax-ending amendment accepted by Parliament, which is due to be implemented by April 2018 at the latest.

Coryton describes Bodyform's new advert as "kick ass".

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'Blood Normal', Bodyform advert, YouTube (screenshot)

 

"I have been in close contact with Bodyform for a while now," Coryton tells me. "We have been discussing normalities within the industry that perpetuate the period taboo and umbrella injustices such as tampon tax and period poverty."

With their recent campaign, she says, "they decided to do something about that."

Part of the success of campaigns such as #BloodNormal and 'End Tampon Tax' is that they spark necessary debate, helping women talk openly and comfortably about their periods.

By reminding us that period blood is normal, Bodyform's new campaign shows that menstruation may be physically uncomfortable, but we should all feel comfortable and confident discussing it.

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