On October 25th 2016 easy period released our first ad campaign with agency Cossette titled, No Shame. The campaign consists of a series of four images that depict situations where women might normally feel ashamed during menstruation. For example, taking a bath, leaking on bed sheets, having painful cramps or being naked with a tampon in.
These ads come at a time where the issue of menstrual shame is beginning to make its way into mainstream media. Earlier this year the cover of newsweek was graced by a tampon with a headline that read "THERE WILL BE BLOOD Get Over It." This wasn't just a sensationalized headline, inside they featured a comprehensive article written by Abigail Jones on the fight to end period shaming.
Despite news coverage like this, many still have questions. What is period shame? Is it real? Does it really effect women in North America, and how?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (purchased for me in hardcover by my father as a grade 8 graduation present at which time I was told I would thank him later for it- I do) Shame is: a feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour; a regrettable or unfortunate thing; reason to feel ashamed.
Although everyone is aware that periods are natural the shame that has become associated with them often stems from a silencing of this experience for women. We are made to feel wrong for menstruating if we can't be open about it. This experience that takes place monthly for women and the pain that comes along with it is something we should be able to discuss freely. The consequences of not having an open dialogue about menstruation can be seen today. These include:
- A lack of access to menstrual hygiene products in public washrooms, school washrooms, hospital washrooms etc.
- Menstrual hygiene products being taxed as luxury items in many states (this tax was removed in Ontario last year)
- Very little innovation in menstrual hygiene technology over the last century, despite it being a $30 billion dollar industry globally
- 500 million girls globally lacking access to menstrual hygiene products
- The FDA not regulating the ingredients of tampons leading to potentially harmful ingredients sitting in the super permeable tissue of the vagina (which is why easy period sells 100% organic cotton products with no synthetic fibres)
Our ads received varied feedback. Some women felt liberated and inspired by them others found them offensive. We expected some backlash as nudity and blood tend to make people uncomfortable. The goal was to get people to think about and talk about this discomfort. Often if something is kept quiet and relegated to the private sphere it has the opportunity to create shame around it and eliminates the opportunity for reform. So yes, the argument that periods should be kept private is understood, however, when a private issue has such public consequences, it's time to get people talking. This campaign certainly succeeded in doing that.
To read more about the campaign, see the articles below: