Yesterday, as I was flipping through People, I came across an advertisement that scared me to death. What was it marketing? Feminine hygiene products, of course. Because, I mean, what could be scarier than a period?! The Always Infinity ad features a dangerous tornado-like whirlpool swirling ominously into a gigantic maxi pad. A pad that, apparently, has the power to absorb ten times its weight— “so your heavy days won’t spin you out of control.” (If you care to see the full, 3-D, moving visual, check it out here.)
Period or no period, I’m not spinning out of control. I don’t sit in my bed the week before Aunt Flow comes, anticipating the next five to seven days while flinching in fear. And I don’t burst out of my pants, gulf down ten chocolate bars, and scream at my friends when the big day arrives. By advertising our time of the month as such, we’re not helping women, we’re just freaking people — especially dudes — out. Because, seriously, when I’m watching TV with a guy, the last thing I need is a heart attack-inducing ad comparing my period to a deadly storm that can only be stopped by a heavy-duty, mega-absorbent pad with extra large “wings” and an extended “tail.” If you are going to advertise my vagina as having the potential to unleash the next Hurricane Katrina, at least limit the commercials to female-targeted media outlets. No wonder there’s all that hoopla about men being scared of us during “that time of the month.”
Now let me get something straight. I am 100 percent comfortable with my period (or, in the words of the most recent print ad for Midol, my exclamation point!). I don’t think it’s disgusting. I’m not repulsed by myself during my time of the month. I don’t blush when someone says the word “tampon.” My period is part of my womanhood, and I think that’s fabulous. But it’s a period, not a wild animal; it doesn’t need conquering.
I’m not saying we need to advertise periods as pretty, pink ribbon-wrapped packages (although I don’t mind the ad that does) or that we should dance and spin in circles when our period comes, I’m simply asking that we treat a period as what it is: an inevitable annoyance that can easily (I’m aware that the character in “Mean Girls,” with a “wide set vagina and a heavy flow,” might disagree) be dealt with, and that is not worth obsessing and freaking out about. We get our periods. We deal with it. And the world keeps turning.
I remember another ad for Midol a few years back that featured three women at the beach—one of them with her (god awful, handicapping) period. The two friends’ jaws nearly fell to the floor when they realized it was their friend’s time of the month. She had made it to the beach while on her period??? Huh?!
Yes. You can have your period, and still get stuff done.
Now that I’m done with my rant, I will go on to praise some awesome period commercials I’ve seen. One tells the story of a woman who spends some quality time pampering her pet beaver (Ha. Ha. Get it?), enjoying taking advantage of all the world has to offer (sunbathing, hot dudes, pedicures) while she does so. Another for Playtex Sport features awesome chicks — with their periods — dominating in athletics. These ads rock because they say “have your period and move on with your life” instead of “LOOK OUT. YOUR PERIOD IS COMING.” Amen to that.