• I knew was that having your periods was not something you talked about to other people. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Let's face it, if you can watch Game of Thrones, a little period blood should not put you off.
By
Saman Shad

20 Sep 2019 - 10:36 AM  UPDATED 20 Sep 2019 - 12:14 PM

OPINION

One of the most embarrassing things to happen to me growing up was to go to PE in high school in a white pair of shorts and have my periods start without me realising it.

No one told me I had bled through to my shorts. Only after I got home did I realise and immediately wanted to die - I was a teenager so I didn’t feel things by halves. It didn’t matter that all the girls I knew had started their period or that all the women around me had their period. It didn’t matter that almost all women bled once a month. All I knew was that having your periods was not something you talked about to other people. It was something of a curse and burden to most women and something you delicately kept hidden from the rest of the world. And to publicly reveal to everyone that you had your period was humiliating.  

I knew was that having your periods was not something you talked about to other people.

It’s this deep down shame that we feel about periods that lead to the Libra ad showing red blood as part of its #bloodnormal campaign becoming the most complained ad of the year

One of the complainants even said: “It is also extremely offensive and inappropriate to show young teenage girls, between the ages of 12 to 16, getting their period, with blood dripping down their leg and of them peeling off a period stained pad from their underwear. It appeals to pedophiles to see young girls in this manner and is exposing to young females and extremely dangerous for young girls.” 

Sorry, what now? 

My daughter will very soon be hitting the rollercoaster puberty years and seeing periods being normalised in this manner is exactly what I want her to see on TV. I want her to see the awkward messy side of it, not the ‘hey I’ve got my periods so I want to take up all the adventure activities’ sort of ads I grew up with. I want her to see that the blood coming out of her will be red and not a chemically blue liquid being poured from a test tube onto a pad I was used to seeing on TV. 

It’s this deep down shame that we feel about periods that lead to the Libra ad showing red blood as part of its #bloodnormal campaign becoming the most complained ad of the year

Even those tame tampon ads of yesteryear would invoke deep horror in me as a young person if I happened to watch the ads with my parents. No one had told me outwardly that having your periods was something to be ashamed about, but they hadn’t told me otherwise. It was everyone’s silent embarrassed attitude to this monthly bleeding that I intrinsically absorbed. I wish my parents had turned around to me during those ads and said you know what, this is a natural part of being a woman and all women go through it. 

Instead I, like most women, grew up feeling like having a period was something to conceal. And we carry this burden, continuing to whisper awkwardly if we’ve been caught short without a tampon. Hiding our sanitary products in our pockets or purses or even up our sleeves when walking to the bathroom at work. It’s almost as if admitting that we bleed every month is a stain on our femininity. 

Imagine if men got their periods, I suspect there’d be a lot of high fiving when Aunt Flow came calling and there would be bowls of sanitary products being offered for free in all public bathrooms. Not to mention the compulsory period holiday every month for those days they just didn’t want to get out of bed. 

I want my daughter to grow up feeling that periods are nothing to be embarrassed about. 

But since it’s a “woman problem” we get horrified responses to the sight of red period blood on screen and it wasn’t even the real thing - in the ad they actually blurred out the image of the red blood on a pad, and we got a sight of a test tube with red liquid in it going onto a pad. 

It amazes me that this has gotten people so worked up. I mean, did these complainants even watch Game of Thrones or the many movies and TV shows where blood, gore and violence is just commonplace? 

I want my daughter to grow up feeling that periods are nothing to be embarrassed about. That most women will get them every month for decades - and despite this we still continue to function as normal - working, mothering, daughtering, partnering, doing all that is expected of us and often more. And damn if that isn’t a superpower, I don’t know what is. So let’s not hide it, let’s talk about it, let’s normalise it. So if in the future if my daughter ever gets caught short without a tampon, she doesn’t have to awkwardly whisper whether someone has got one but can hold her head up high and matter-of-factly ask for it without any shame. 

Saman Shad is a freelance writer. You can follow Saman on Twitter @muminprogress

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