Bloody awesome

Advertisements for female sanitary products have never been very realistic. A Google search on ‘vintage sanitary ads’ reveals that in the olden days, periods were very much secret business, and products were designed to facilitate your carefree, athletic life without you ever having to say the taboo word period, deal with any actual blood, or ever experience tiredness or cramps.

When I was growing up, the ads were also quite cryptic. Happy girls and women jumping, running, dating – and doing all of this in pristine, tight, white clothing. You wouldn’t know, the first time you watched these ads, what you were being sold.

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There might have been brief references to the ‘product’ but these were shrouded in secrecy. The packaging was meant to be ‘discreet’ and the theme was that no one would know.  There was also not a single mention of blood. The most daring ads had visuals of a sanitary pad being absorbency-tested with an odd, blue liquid.

Thank goodness, then, for Libra Australia, who have adopted the manifesto of their parent company, Essity, and decided that it is time for Australia to normalise periods, two years after the campaign was released in the UK. “Contrary to popular belief, women don’t bleed blue liquid, they bleed blood,” says the tagline of their campaign, #bloodnormal. “Periods are normal. Showing them should be too.”

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#bloodnormal

About bloody time.

The ad is controversial. It features real-life situations where girls and women deal with having a period. And yes, some of it is unpleasant. After being aired on prime-time Australian TV last month, there were over 600 complaints from viewers that the ads were inappropriate – the highest number of complaints for any ad in 2019.  The complaints used words like disgusting, offensive and confronting. But Australia’s industry regulator, Ad Standards, dismissed the complaints as not being in breach of viewing standards but in fact “promoting equality and the demystification of menstruation.”

Perhaps the controversy is precisely the reason why these ads need to continue. Libra aims to educate, not to shock. The more we see it, the more normal it becomes, and normalising periods is the goal of the campaign. The director of the #bloodnormal video, Daniel Wolfe, was inspired by a quote he saw on social media which said, “Can’t wait for the day when women no longer pass tampons to a friend like they are a Class A drug.”

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Indian company NH1 Design’s award-winning campaign in 2017

If nothing else, this research from Libra Australia is reason enough for encouraging open conversation about periods:
“67% of teenage girls would rather fail a subject at school than have their class know they were on their period.”

Now that’s confronting.

©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

National Bikini Day?

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July 5th is ‘National Bikini Day’. I only know this because I get a lot of junk mail. Scanning through my inbox, I find a swimsuit company (Australian) proudly declaring this special day via email. There is even a hashtag: #nationalbikiniday. They aren’t just imparting useful information, of course, they are also sneakily trying to sell me swimwear.

But as I read this email, while wearing thermal pyjamas and drinking hot tea out of a thermo-flask, I sense it isn’t National Bikini Day in Australia, where July is the coldest month of the year.

So, as any curious writer would do, I Google it. And here’s what I find:

  • The bikini was first revealed on 5 July 1946 in Paris by French mechanical engineer turned fashion designer, Louis Réard
  • Réard wanted the name of his new swimsuit to be shocking, and for the launch to be ‘explosive’, so he named the garment after the Bikini Atoll, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean where the atomic bomb was being tested in 1946.
  • Bikini Day is observed on 1 March in Japan, to commemorate the Japanese fishermen who became accidental victims of nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll.

But while we’re talking about shocking swimwear, I feel the need to discuss the new micro swimwear trends that have bombarded the internet recently. Buckles instead of straps, bikinis that look like they’ve been put on the wrong way round for the lack of coverage, and swimsuit bottoms cut so high they reach your armpits.

Exhibit A. Swimwear I don’t understand from an online retailer that I love. bikini-day.png

A few observations:
1. I am not surprised this is on ‘Final Sale’ – must be hard to shift. Out of your crevices.

2. ‘This product cannot be returned or exchanged unless faulty.’ Well. Seems there is already a fundamental fault in the product, i.e. it would be tricky to swim in it.

3. The discount, because I had to check, works out at 66.6%. The greatest trick this ‘one-piece’ ever pulled was convincing you it is a swimsuit.

4. $29.71 (plus postage) is not the final price you will pay. What about the additional considerations of waxing, tanning, chafing, and then the cost of another swimsuit for actual swimming.

But that email isn’t just a marketing ploy. Sources confirm 5 July is indeed, Bikini Day. Other notable days this month include:
10th July: Piña Colada day
13th July: International Rock Day
16th July: Guinea Pig Appreciation Day
31st July: Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to celebrate July by sitting on a rock, Piña Colada in hand and preparing to play the comb & tissue paper. Until the sun comes out, I’ll be accessorising my bikini with a full-length puffer jacket and Ugg boots.
#bikiniday? #i♥guineapigs

©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd