We live in a world where people have polar opinions about a good number of things. This includes topics like periods, casual sex, homosexuality etc. Way before Indian teenagers had unlimited-data internet, and even before the emergence of people mocking taboos in stand-up shows, there existed television ads that would mould one’s mindsets. If you are a kid who grew up when television ads were the in thing, then you could have missed Sanitary Napkin ads while catching up your daily dose of entertainment on TV.
While the world is busy cringing/supporting a ban over condom TV ads, we people should surely take a minute to thank advertisements of sanitary napkins.
The society that is highly deprived of sex education, have certainly learnt to acknowledge the existence of periods because of these advertisements. A good number of young boys would have perhaps never got to learn what menstruation/periods are if such commercials were never made, and that too in a very mature manner.
Certainly, young boys went-out out shopping with their moms would have wondered that what do their mother asked for from the shopkeeper in an otherwise whispering tone.
While these advertisements never gave a hundred percent knowledge about menstruation, they did give a glimpse, a familiarisation. For example, a blue liquid held by the napkin did give boys an idea that the geelapan (wetness) being talked about is something that the user won’t like being unheld. Well, obviously sab daag achchhe nahi hote (not all stains are good).
Also, these ads did give a window of conversation to Indian mothers to talk with their sons regarding woh din (those days).
Sanitary Napkin ads: Without using many technical (read offensive) terms, these commercials did pour in (lame pun) the idea of talking about periods among the pre-internet generation.
Sanitary napkin ads, unlike condom commercials, never cast bold (maybe seductive) divas. They generally had a school girl cringing over periods. This girl would then be approached by a grown-up woman who would lend a helping hand, and eventually, these two ladies would have a conversation that Indian girls have with their mothers in a closed room.
While the banned condom commercials would end-up (intentionally or unintentionally) making things more awkward for Indian families watching TV together, the sanitary napkin ads have always made things easier for young girls. That is what I feel as a boy growing up in the era of television commercials.
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The dream of a utopian kingdom is yet to come true, but maybe till then, we can cherish such torchbearers who have been throwing light on a topic that should never have been a taboo.
The views expressed are the author’s own.