We all remember the day we got our first period and feeling like we had become members of some sort of secret, women only club. Huge bulky sanitary towels with loops and belts were smuggled into the house, magazines featured horror stories of how tampons caused toxic shock syndrome, hushed cryptic conversations with our mums shed no light whatsoever on what was happening and God forbid any of the men in our family should find out what was going on.
Back in the day periods were something to be endured and embarrassed about, rather than a celebration of the begining of our journey into womanhood. TV adverts featuring blue liquid poured onto pristine white cotton pads confused us and I longed for a little humour, honesty and acknowledgement that menstruation is completly normal.
These days a girl’s first period is cause for celebration, followed by a hug and an honest and open and honest mother/daughter conversation about what it entails. But commercials for sanitary protection don’t seem to have moved on and have remained deliberately vague and confusing – until now.
I recently came across the Hello Flo’s “Camp Gyno” commercial featuring a young American girl who gets her first period at summer camp and receives her “red badge of courage.” She becomes the designated camp gynecologist, until the other girls discover Hello Flo, which “is a monthly subscriptions service for your period” that sends customers boxes full of tampons, pads and pantyliners, as well as sweets. Or, as the camp gyno describes it “like Santa for your vagina.”
Hello Flo’s founder, Naama Bloom, told the Wall Street Journal that the idea for the company was born from her own desire for a period reminder service that provided sanitary products. She said “I’ve certainly had some men ask me what I would sell next, as if half the world’s population that menstruates once a month isn’t a big enough business. There are men out there who don’t think this is a very big market, but it’s $8 billion a year in the US.”
The funny, yet practical commercial is refreshingly honest, using words such “vagina,” “menstruation” and “period,” in a way that will resonate with women of all ages and hopefully marks the start of a more authentic online and offline conversation around menstruation.
After all, we bleed ever month for at least 40 years – I can’t see men keeping quiet about that, can you?