It looks like the stigmatization of periods and menstrual products is far from over. Earlier this month, a Tampax ad which aired in the UK and Ireland was pulled from the airwaves for being “vulgar,” “brash and disgusting and unnecessary,” and “crossing a line of decency.”
Titled “Tampons and Tea,” the ad addressed an issue so many people with periods are all too used too: being able to feel your tampon. In the commercial, an actress playing the role of a talk-show host explains that if you’re able to feel your tampon, that might mean that it isn't inserted far enough or that it isn't in correctly. “Not just the tip, up to the grip,” the actress explains by showing how to insert a tampon using her fingers to mimic the shape of a vagina.
To most, the ad was completely harmless. In fact, many feminists applauded the ad for being so candid about a basic practice millions of people have to deal with. Who among us can say that they actually learned how to insert a tampon in health class? Tampax UK took it upon themselves to show young people (and folks who are older but still might not know how to insert a tampon correctly) the ropes. Still, the ad received over 150 complaints of people citing that it was too graphic, despite the fact that no real depiction of anatomy, or even fake blood, was shown.
Because of the backlash, the advertisement has now been removed from television in Ireland. “We will cease to show this advert now in Ireland in line with the authority’s decision,” a spokesperson from Tampax stated, citing the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) decision that the ad “should not run in the same format again” despite the fact that it “provided factual information in a manner that was neither explicit nor graphic.”
As many unnecessarily critical comments the ad received, Tampax has received the same amount, if not more, in support. Fiona Tyrell of the Irish Family Planning Association stated, “For the ASAI to accede to the demands of the squeamish few and ban this ad is simply unacceptable. Censorship of information on sexuality and reproduction belongs in the past.” Charlotte Amrouche, who hosts menstruation workshops in Ireland added, “To ban the ad on the ruling of ‘general offence’ suggests that vaginas, periods and period products, are all offensive...I received so many messages and comments from people who said that the message of this advert — insert your tampon high up — would have been helpful for them as a teen or would be helpful to them now.”
Tampax has noted that they will continue to fight for an end to the stigmatization of periods and menstrual products. The next generation deserves to feel comfortable with their bodies, as well as deserves to know how exactly to use the products that are being marketed to them. As the advert stated on getting that tampon up there, “do it for comfort.”
Top Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
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Aliza is a Creative Writing BFA student and former BUST Magazine intern! When she's not writing, reading or scrolling through TikTok for hours on end, you can find her consuming copious amounts of iced coffee or doing something witchy. Follow her on Twitter @alizapelto.