Many women feel shame surrounding periods, now a new campaign demands for this to change.
According to Plan International 48% of girls in the UK feel embarrassed by their period. This shame can stem from a whole host of reasons. The lack of education about the subject at schools, stigma at home where the subject is not discussed openly and period poverty when girls cannot afford to change their sanitary product often enough or in some cases don’t have access to them at all are just to name a few.
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‘Period’ isn’t a dirty word. Having a period does not make you ‘feminine’. Not having a period does not make you ‘masculine’. The ideas that periods are unhygienic and something only women experience are damaging. Having a period is nothing to be ashamed of, regardless of your gender. But the language used by supermarkets, both online and in-store, to signpost period products perpetuates the idea that periods are dirty, and only experienced by women. These taboos cause shame for many, and body dysphoria for some. We’ve started a petition to change this – for supermarkets to ditch ‘feminine hygiene’ and ‘sanitary products’ for ‘period products’. Sign the petition via the link in our bio. #RenameDontShame #periodproblems #periodstigma #periodpride #periodpositivity #periodstigmaisreal #peoplewithperiods #transrights #periodsinpandemics
Natracare, a company that sells eco-friendly pads and tampons, believe that the language supermarkets use to name menstrual products is another source of this shame. Their new campaign #RenameDontShame demands that supermarkets ditch the words ‘feminine hygiene’ and ‘sanitary products’ and replace it with ‘period’ or ‘menstrual’ instead.
Exclusion and shame
They argue that the use of the word ‘sanitary’ and the avoidance of the word ‘period’ creates shame because it suggests that periods are ‘dirty’ and ‘unhygienic’ when this is not the case. The word ‘feminine’ excludes trans and agender individuals who do not identify as female but have a menstrual cycle.
The petition has been signed by over 12,000 people but the campaign has received mixed reactions. “I’m not really bothered what they name the aisle. Call it Aunt Flo. So long as we know where to find the tampons,” one wrote on a public Digital Spy forum.
“I’m a male, and don’t get this at all. Are people actually offended by the phrase “sanitary towel?” said another. “I have entirely positive associations around the word sanitation. Sanitation is never a bad thing,” added a third.
The debate goes social
In support of the campaign a user commented on Instagram: “Yes this is exactly why I’ve always felt uncomfortable but have never been able to put it into words thank you!”. “This is the sort of language so many of us don’t even see, which makes it difficult to be aware of how it colours our assumptions! Great thing to draw attention to” another added.
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You've seen the stores getting it right, but sadly so many are still getting it wrong! 💔 we've been taking notice of what our local stores call period products, and we've been disappointed to find that many are using gendered and stigmatising language. Reminder: not everyone with a period is a woman and not all women have periods ❌ Let's call for supermarkets to #RenameDontShame period products, by calling them exactly what they are. Tag them in the comments below so they can see that we want change! Get involved by signing the petition linked in our bio and sharing your own supermarket selfies (please wear a mask!) with the hashtag #RenameDontShame 🩸
Social media influencers @yasminjohalx and @UnjadedJade have promoted the campaign in a paid collaboration with the brand. Users have also taken selfies next to aisles displaying “feminine hygiene” and have tagged British supermarkets to get their attention.
Campaigns surrounding periods are nothing new, in January of this year Aldi scrapped their own brand plastic tampon applicators after the environmental activist Ella Daish launched a campaign to make all menstrual products plastic free. Sainsbury’s was the first supermarket to decide to become a plastic-free period product retailer.
Ending period poverty
Moreover, ‘Heygirls’ a company which campaigns to end period poverty supply supermarket giants Asda and Waitrose. For every period product they sell, they donate one to match (funded by Big Issue Invest’s Power Up programme).
It is clear that campaigning has worked in the past to change the way people think about periods in general. But it is not yet apparent if Natracare will succeed in managing to persuade supermarkets to rebrand their products.