Indian sanitary pad advertisements mainly focus on their own version of women empowerment and how women can live a carefree life even when on their periods. But using a sanitary pad does not contribute in helping us climb mountains, dance or run errands at night. So are these advertisements far from the reality of our periods? They deviate from explaining what the society actually needs to know about menstruation. The use of euphemisms such as un dino (those days) or mushkil din (difficult days) in the commercials is even more troublesome. Why can’t we refer to periods directly? Here are 5 basic problems with all sanitary pad commercials.
1. The use of the colour blue
The first and foremost problem with how Indian advertisements sell sanitary pads is the use of blue colour to represent menstrual blood. This only promotes the stigma around periods and doesn’t educate people. The commercials are made keeping in mind the ‘discomfort’ viewers might face looking at the red colour. If the purpose is to ensure a greater sale of the product, what is the harm with using a shade of red and give it a more real touch?
2. The all-white concept
The commercials show how you can wear white clothes and sleep on white bedsheets during your periods but do not get anything stained. In reality, our clothes and bedsheets do get stained even if we are wearing a pad and that’s okay. This way the sanitary pad advertisements drift away from the actual world. The approach should be promote menstrual health and not hide period stains.
Time for us to change the language? Use of euphemisms such as un dino (those days) or mushkil din (difficult days) in the commercials is inappropriate and feeds into stereotypes
3. Little or no presence of men
Why don’t we find a woman talking to her brother, father, male friend or partner about the monthly cycle in the advertisements? Oh wait, why isn’t there any conversation at all about periods in these commercials? All this because ‘shhh…you can’t discuss periods’. Including males in the advertisements will appear ‘unusual’, isn’t it? Men need to be part of the conversation on periods.
4. No representation of rural India
Why do the sanitary pad advertisements never show the struggle women in rural India face during periods? As we know, the availability of sanitary pads in villages is limited. Also, women in the rural areas don’t have enough knowledge about how they should deal with periods. The ad campaigns can be directed towards promoting menstrual hygiene and educating people about menstruation in the under developed parts of our country.
5. Periods are thought to be a disease
A common notion in all sanitary pad advertisements is to project women as being self conscious or suffering from under confidence during their periods as though menstruation is some sort of a disease preventing them from leading a normal life. Yes, periods suck but they are just as normal as any other bodily function. Women need not be dejected or lock themselves up in rooms just because it’s ‘that time of the month’.
Women face periods every month. It is a part and parcel of their lives and they embrace it whole heartedly. Sanitary pad advertisements need to recognise this
The taboo created by the society is what comes as a hindrance and prevents them from discussing it freely. Advertisements, which happen to be the only way to communicate the idea of menstruation to people also happen to be flawed at so many levels. How and from where are they then supposed to get detailed information? TV commercials need a serious upgrade to deliver the correct message to menstruating people.