Since the dawn of television (perhaps even print media) advertisers have grappled with the task of selling what society has established as discreet consumer products: pads and tampons. For a while we were sold netball players and horse-riders in all white, and then a blue liquid that turned to jelly. That was until 2010 when Kotex asked the question on most of our minds: Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?
Now our very own Lil-lets has stepped up to the challenge. Judging from the tweets South African women are really connecting with their new “We are women” print and television campaign. It was designed by an all-woman team who say they wanted to appeal to their consumers’ femininity and celebrate it.
But is there really one true essence of femininity? General consensus is that there is, and that it consists of caring for others, heartbreak, shopping and pulling off mean feats in heels. While most of these experiences are arguably universal to being human, they are repeatedly envoked to support a very limited idea of what it means to be a woman. Just as the experience of motherhood has nothing to do with my understanding of my own womanhood, other women might relate much more to the image of a champion body builder than two giggling girls on a bed.
The advert really only hits home for me in one of the last few frames when they acknowledge that “Periods aren’t fun.” They touch on an experience that is a guaranteed reality for very member of their target-market; they menstruate. Advertisers shouldn’t tip-toe around that fact and the not-so-fun truths that come with it including cramps, tears and pain. They can make us laugh about it or pull on our heartstrings if they want to, just as long as they let us know that they get it. And that it’s not weird or taboo or gross.
We’re certainly getting closer, they actually used the word “period” instead of “That-time-of-the-month” or “Red robot.” It would be great to see rival advertisers take the movement further. Let’s kill all the ridiculous euphamisms and taboos around a bodily function that is as natural as sleeping!