Period product companies that monetise your shame

As the new year gets in to full swing we are SUPER pumped to be planning all our #PeriodPower missions for the year to help spread the good vibes and, of course, all things menstrual cup awesomeness.

One of our biggest missions is to help change the conversation around periods. We’re thrilled to see so many other people and organisations take steps to reduce the stigma and shame (and all around old fashioned ridiculousness) around menstruation.

But in a new poll it showed that nearly half of women have experienced period shaming at some point.

So, why is period shame still a thing? And what role to period product companies have to play in all of this?

We’ve been shocked by some of the things we’ve seen in the media recently and this is why...

Period product marketing impact

Companies have a voice, often very loud ones, with the power to shape mindsets in our society. Their messages are on our TV’s, in our magazines and tugging at the periphery of our headspace throughout the day on social media.

They try to sell us things by telling us stories. Stories about what it means to be a successful, healthy, happy person. Stories about how their product helps you achieve those things.

If you hear the same story over and over again it’s easy to start to believe it.

This can be a really powerful tool but often in a negative way, especially when companies use their marketing stories to make us feel unsuccessful, ugly, afraid or ashamed.

Not all companies are bad guys of course but when every purchase you make is funding an idea it’s important to know what you’re buying in to.

Shame marketing in the period product industry

We could rant all day (and often do in our spare time, believe you me) about the diet industry’s need to make us feel fat or the beauty industry’s need to make us feel ugly.

But today we want to talk about something a little closer to home to our mission and that’s the shame around periods.

The story of shame around periods and how companies and advocates are shaping the vision of “modern period” (que the skinny, glowing, care-free woman skipping merrily along the beach as if her menstruation was sparkly pixie dust energising her with unicorn magic from within her vagina) is not a new one.

But in a world where we’re trying to drop crappy taboos like hot potatoes, not all companies are heading in the right direction.

For example, time and time again we’re still seeing adverts that play on you feeling ashamed or embarrassed simply for buying period products in the store.

Often with some random dude or store assistant in the background looking disgusted at the thought of...god forbid...a person menstruating.

Then telling you to buy a menstrual cup so you can avoid that embaressment and shame.

Erm, say what now?

The issue in this kind of story is NOT the purchasing of sanitary’s the dude in the background apparently judging her for buying a perfectly normal, practical type of product that half the population use.

(sarcastic sidenote: because don’t forget your self worth is determined by complete strangers at your local supermarket!!)

Companies that do this are telling us that, not only are periods shameful but that it’s the responsibility of the person on their period to hide it so that no one feels weird about it.

It’s wrong, it’s infuriating and unfortunately it really does resonate with a lot of consumers.

Lots of other period product brands also focus too much on being “discreet” or avoiding embarrassment. And y’all don’t get us started on the over representation of skinny, white middle class women in all the ads (we’ll be talking about that more this year!)

When period product companies get it right

Thanks to lots of awesome people and organisations, the unecessary and archaic shame surrounding periods is being challenged….slowly, but surely.

Just last year Bodyform started using red liquid in their TV commercials instead of the infamous and quite frankly odd blue alien-like stuff of before.

period shame marketing, monetising shame, period product companies, Lunette

Kotex also did a great campaign using transparent bags and the slogan “If I had something to hide, I’d carry a safe”.

Then there’s the brilliant No Shame campaign by Easy. who showed images of situations where women might normally be ashamed like leaking on bed sheets or being naked with a tampon in.

period shame marketing, monetising shame, period product companies, Lunette

YES, YES! Take THAT judgemental dude in the grocery store!

This is a big deal because it tells a better story. A story where periods are, in their real form, normal, healthy and nothing to be ashamed of.

Fun fact: At Lunette we’ve been using red liquid right from the start! Check out this old promo video from 2014.

Period shaming: why this is important to us

Because this is a movement that we, at Lunette, are genuinely passionate about.

Yes, menstrual cups are convenient, awesome and more people can benefit from using them (and we’re pretty darned good at making them for sure!). But, importantly, no matter what products you choose to use, we want to help change the conversation and stigma around a subject that affects every single one of us.

Working with other organisations means calling out bad industry practices and learning from them.

No one is perfect and at Lunette we’re always trying to figure out how we can create a better, truer story around periods. For example, this year focusing on including more types of bodies in our campaigns and talking about menstruators who aren’t just people who identify as girls or women.

What you can do about period shame tactics

Call out companies who are telling the wrong kind of stories and remember that your money funds the company as well as the product. Choose the ones you admire and trust.

Tell us what you think! Are there any period product ads you love or loathe?
Give your input on the comments below or tweet us!