menstruation,

  • Playtex tampon 1cae5

    In the UK, Tampax recently released a new television ad campaign which shows viewers how to properly insert a tampon. This ad campaign, dubbed “Tampons and Tea,” was launched after Tampax did research and came to the conclusion that 42 percent of tampon users were not inserting it correctly. The number jumps higher to 58 percent in the age bracket of 18- to 24-year-olds.

    The ad features a fictional daytime show where the host asks the question, “How many of you ever feel your tampon?” After a guest raises her hand, the host says that you shouldn’t feel your tampon and it might mean that it’s not in far enough. The ad then shows a demonstration of how to insert the tampon. The host then says, “Get em up there, girls!”

    With Tampax’s research, we know that nearly half of the tampon-using population doesn’t insert their tampons correctly. This can lead to mild discomfort or severe pain. It is important that we teach young people how to wear tampons, especially when we have such a stigma around periods.

    It was refreshing to see a straightforward tampon commercial where there was no beating around the bush about periods or tampons. It’s also refreshing because most ads about period products usually feature girls smiling and having the best time on their periods, dancing around. Most of us know that this isn't typically the case, especially those who are severely affected by PMS. While this advertisement had a smiling woman, it didn’t come off in the patronizing way that tampon advertisements usually do.

    The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) got several complaints about the advertisement. According to the complaints, the ad was disrespectful to women, had sexual innuendos, and was not suitable for children.

    Many were upset with the fact that the Tampax commercial aired during the show Britain’s Got Talent, arguing that it shouldn’t have been shown on such a family-friendly television program. One user on Twitter wrote that, “The new Tampax ad is just a step too far. ‘Get them up there, girls.’...The ad is digusting...no issue with the advertising the product, just the way it’s done.” Many people also complained that there were kids watching during the show which made the ad inappropriate.

    There were, in fact, others who found the advertisement to be helpful. People mostly found it helpful because it talked about periods and tampons in a candid way, despite the negative connotation surrounding them.

    Unfortunately, the advertisement was pulled from Irish television. The Advertising Standards Authority’s Complaints Committee stated that the ad caused “widespread offense” while also taking note that it “provided factual information in a manner that was neither explicit nor graphic.”

    The pulling of this advertisement works against everything that the advertisement was praised for: helping women know their bodies and taking the shame away from menstruation. Too often, young people in particular are too scared to ask questions about their periods and resort to practices that end up causing them more harm.

    Charlotte Amrouche hosts educational workshops on menstruation and stated that the ASAI’s decision was “disappointing and hugely frustrating.” Amrouche said that the decision “suggests that vaginas, periods and period products, are all offensive.” She also said that the advertisement was needed because there is misinformation and a lack of knowledge when it comes to period products in Ireland.

    While Tampax did pull the ad in line with the ASAI’s decision, a spokesperson for the company said, “Our advert was designed to address a very common usage question and to help educate how to use the tampon correctly in a straight-talking way.... We will continue in our efforts to normalize periods and help end period stigma.”

    Ending the stigma around periods is so important, and something that needs to be talked about more. The shame young women feel about something that is natural and that they can’t control is absolutely ridiculous. Even if little kids were watching the advertisement, it could’ve helped a young person who was too scared to ask how to use a tampon. The advertisement could also help the (apparently large number of) people that don’t know how to insert a tampon correctly. We need to start talking about menstruation in a productive way, just like this advertisement did, period.

    Header image via Wikimedia Commons / FastilyClone

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    Periods. They’re a fact of life. Every month, for about a week, uterus-having folks deal with what Cher Horowitz iconically termed “the crimson wave” - an outpouring of blood that’s been taboo for centuries. It’s also linked to a ton of garbage.

    Typically, menstruating folk manage their periods with disposable pads and tampons. These products, containing superabsorbent polymers, single use plastics and unsustainably grown cotton, are a major source of environmental waste. In North America alone, 20 billion pads and tampons go to landfill every year. Even worse, each of those discarded pads and tampons are expected to take at least 500 years to decompose.

    Bottom line? Every pad and tampon ever made is still in existence somewhere on this planet. That’s a lot of garbage!

    Lots of companies have been tackling this problem - it’s time to get plastic out of periods for good. However, letting go of the Tampax habit you’ve been nurturing since grade school can be hard. We’re here to make it easy.

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    Wash And Wear

    The easiest way to get started might be to purchase a pair of period undies and try them out overnight or on a lighter day of your cycle. When you are picking out a pair, be sure to look for breathable fabrics (keeps the vulva happier) and a leakproof barrier, so you know your undies can keep Aunt Flow under control. Luna Undies, a line of organic cotton period undies from Lunapads, features a breathable gusset and an additional absorbent insert to help you customize your protection and feel fresh all day.

    Get A Cup That Fits You

    There are tons of menstrual cups out there now, and it can be hard to find the one that’s right for you. A key thing to consider is cup firmness; a very firm cup can be uncomfortable but also can be the best choice for very active folks or those who experience a cup that slips down. A softer cup can be more comfortable, but also may require more manipulation to place correctly and to prevent leaks. A firmer cup may also be easier for beginners. Try the online quiz at Put A Cup In It to find out what cup works best for you!

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    Not Your Mother’s Cloth Pads

    Cloth pads might evoke thoughts of Woodstock and the farmer’s market, but there are newer versions with high-tech fabrics that are as comfortable as underwear but bring the heat when it comes to heavy flow.Lunapads’ Performa line features a wicking cotton top layer, an ultra-absorbent core and leakproofing that can take on the heaviest flow, no problem. They’re lab-tested to be three times as absorbent as a comparably-sized disposable.

    Remember - when you’re choosing your zero waste period kit, check that the company helping you make their sustainable choice is also practicing sustainability. Do they have low carbon or zero waste manufacturing? Do they use sustainable materials like organic cotton or recycled polyester? Do they hold third-party certifications like B Corp or 1% For The Planet?

    Choosing an eco-friendly period is easier than ever - with cloth pads, period underwear and cups coming in tons of variations for every body and every flow. 

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  • kotexad 57e2a
    Kotex has finally decided that menstrual blood now runs red, not blue. 

    Thanks to a new ad campaign released this month by the Kimberly Clark Corp.’s feminine hygiene brand, Kotex, it appears as if the commercial industry is finally taking steps to destigmatize “that” time of the month. 

    “Blood is blood,” said Sarah Paulsen, creative and design director for North American feminine-care brands at Kimberly-Clark. “This is something that every woman has experienced, and there is nothing to hide.” 

    But, the idea that a woman’s period is “nothing to hide” is somewhat of a new one. 

    Since the beginning of feminine hygiene ads, the 1920s, period products were branded as “discreet” or represented as blue, not red. 

    Period shame is exists in many cultures outside of the U.S. Though banned in 2005, a Nepali practice called “chhaupadi” forces menstruating teens/adults outside of their homes into menstruating huts.Menstruating women are seen as “unclean” and for this “are banned from touching people and certain foods as well as entering temples, using communal water sources or kitchen utensils.” Countless people have died from this practice.

    Though women are no longer banished because of their periods today, they are shamed. According to a 2018 poll commissioned by THINX, periods are still something society treats as taboo. 

    Polling 1,500 women and 500 men across the United States, the study revealed that there’s still a lot of shame surrounding this aspect of female health. According to this study 43 percent of women experience period-shaming. One-in-five state that they have experienced this kind of shaming due to the comments of a male friend. The study doesn’t stop there, though. It goes on to reveal that 12 percent of women have also received period-shaming due to the comments of a family member and one-in-ten said they have experienced this type of shame because of comments made by a classmate. 

    This study revealed that period shaming is even worse at work with 51 percent of the men polled stating that they believe period-talk at work is inappropriate.  

    “Period-shame is something a lot of women feel, starting with their very first cycle, which can occur as young as eight years old,” A THINX spokeswoman said. “Those feelings of embarrassment and self-hate are then reinforced by society, which tells women that their bodies should be clean and tidy, and if they aren’t, well that’s not something to be openly and honestly discussed. By anyone.”

    This period-shaming doesn’t end with the initial comment, however. The THINX study showed that due to period-shaming 58 percent of women have felt embarrassment when on their period, 73 percent have hidden menstrual hygiene products up their sleeves or in their pockets before using them, and 29 percent have cancelled plans because of their period. 

    Period-shaming does have a negative effect on women, the study reveals. That’s why Kotex’s ad campaign that accurately depicts menstruation blood is not just a step, but a leap forward in destigmatizing periods. 

    Other companies in the past have tried to do what Kotex is doing now—depict menstrual blood as the color it is, red—like Libra, an Australian feminine care company, or Cora, a U.S. startup, but the ads were not well received. 

    In 2019, Libra released ads depicting realistic-looking blood on both women and period pads. Though the ad did not breach industry standards, it prompted hundreds of viewer complaints, bringing the ad to the attention of the country’s regulators. 

    In 2018, Cora’s ads—ads that used red liquid to represent period blood, like Kotex now—were initially removed from social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. They were flagged as overly graphic removed. But, Cora Co-Founder Molly Hayward fought for her ads. Facebook and Instagram eventually restored them to their platforms. 

    “There is a greater appetite and readiness for honesty around this,” Hayward said, the Wall Street Journalreported. 

    Hopefully, Hayward is right and Kotex’s new ad campaign will be better received than its predecessors and make a positive impact on normalizing periods because “that” time of the month comes for all women and that’s not something to be ashamed about. 

     

    Top Photo still courtesy Kotex/Instagram

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    In the Maine state legislature, state representative Richard Pickett of Dixfield (take a moment to consider how fitting the name is) just voted against a measure that would have provided free menstrual supplies to incarcerated women, transgender, and nonbinary people. Rep. Pickett stated in a hearing: “Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club,”

    According to the Maine Beacon, Whitney Parrish, director of policy and program for Maine Women’s Lobby, said during testimony: “Imagine you’re a person who has their period inside of a correctional facility...you’re given a limited supply of menstrual products per month, often of low quality due to cost saving, and when you run out, you’re out…You may have no money to go to the commissary, and if you do, you may have to weigh that purchase against other necessities, like making phone calls to your children or attorney.”

     

    The bill, LD 628, was voted through 6-4.

    Lack of adequate health care and menstrual supplies in jails and prisons is a major issue in this country. Menstrual supplies are often pricy or straight up unavailable. Though activists have had new reasons to hope- thanks to the passage of last year’s First Step Act, federal prisons are required to provide inmates with free tampons and pads.

     

    However, federal prisons represent only a fraction of the jailed population in this country (of which women are only 7%), so there is still a lot of work to be done. Of the over 2 million incarcerated people in the United States, most are held in state prisons or jails and are often subjected to different treatment because of this.

    Bottom line - we don’t choose to have periods. There should be healthcare infrastructure in place to deal with this fact of life. Menstrual supplies should be a right, not a luxury.

    Top credit: Wikimedia Commons 

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    England Will Provide Hospital Patients With Free Sanitary Products

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    In many parts of India, menstruation is often associated with dirtiness, making it a taboo subject. The origin of this taboo can be traced back to The Vedas, or ancient Hindu scriptures, which associates menstruation with the myth of Indra’s slaying of Vritras. In the text, menstrual flow is a manifestation of Indra’s guilt for the murder and appears every month for women because they have taken the guilt upon themselves. This core myth, along with other cultural factors, has contributed to the country’s modern stigmatization of menstruation. In many areas, when women are on their periods, they are considered ‘impure’and are prohibited from cooking or touching their families.

    However, there has been a recent uptake in activism against menstruation stigma. This was reinforced by a supreme court decision in 2018 to lift a decades-long ban on women of child-bearing age (between 10 and 50 years old) from entering the Sabarimala Temple in the southern state of Kerala, inspiring national conversation about women’s rights.

    Recently, Indian food delivery company Zomato has taken a slightly unconventional approach to this work by offering up to ten days of ‘period leave’a year to women and transgender folx as part of an initiative to combat gender discrimination. “There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Zomato’s chief executive, Deepinder Goyal, wrote in an email to staff. “You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day.”

     

     

    India is not the only country to have offered menstrual leave. Indonesiaoffers two days per month to employees; in Taiwan, three days per month; Zambia, one day per month. Japan, in particular, has held a menstrual leave policy since 1947: requiring employers to grant women days off for difficult menstruation (but leaves it up to firms to decide whether to pay them or not).

    While this may seem like a bold strike against stigma, unfortunately, this type of regulation does not always yield the desired results. Zomato's decision sparked an online debate that falls in line with the typical reception to these types of policies -- some arguing that women are receiving "special treatment," while many others warn that menstrual leave could leave them vulnerable to gender discrimination in the workplace.

    In areas where women are paid and evaluated based on how many hours they work, asking for leave could have negative repercussions. Additionally, some women have expressed fear of sexual harassment or discrimination by announcing one’s menstrual cycle to the office. Ranjana Kumari, the director of the nonprofit Center for Social Research, which advocates for women's rights in India, told CNN that menstrual leave may demarcate women as having a disability and make it harder for women to get employed.

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    These concerns are markedly similar to the debate around women’s maternity leave. Data collected from many countries demonstrates that the longer new mothers are away from paid work, the less likely they are to be promoted or receive a pay raise after their leave. This puts them at greater risk of being fired or demoted.

    It is important to consider that this regulation could disproportionately affect transgender workers, too, who already face a myriad of discriminatory obstacles in the workplace as is: transgender folx are more likely to experience refusal to hire, privacy violations, sexual harassment than cis-gendered individuals.

    Thus, Zomato’s got us really thinking--does menstrual leave help or hurt?

    Header image via @grocharioson Unsplash

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