Five days ago, Bodyform released a new ad as part of their red.fit programme which aims to keep women exercising throughout their period. The ad features women being brutally bloodied through gruelling training and exercise. And boy, has it got everybody talking.
Equating the bloody injuries to the menstrual blood women deal with whilst exercising, the strapline reads “No blood should hold us back”. And here’s the thing for an ad about periods, they actually depict blood. Not of the menstrual variety, but blood that is, for once, not strangely blue or watery. Nor does it arrive on screen out of a test tube.
Avoiding making periods a taboo or portraying menstruation with sunshine and happy images – set to a catchy (oh so catchy) theme tune – Bodyform has started a new thread of the ongoing conversation: when will we get real about the female body?
The ad continues the narrative that a woman’s body is not just for the sexual appetite of men; an object which is tarnished by openly acknowledging natural bodily functions (read: menstruation, breast-feeding). In essence, the ad refuses to sugar-coat periods in order to avoid making people uncomfortable.
We are all aware that periods are a natural occurrence for women and so it does seem a little unnecessary for ads to manufacture a sense of unrealistic mystique on their behalf. But then, bowel movements are also a natural occurrence, and nobody’s hoping for that Andrex ad.
So does being transparent about mother nature have any real benefit? There has been much applause for the ad from those who would seem to believe it does, and perhaps beginning a discussion is benefit enough. But, as one would expect, its received some criticism too from those who feel the move is unnecessary in the scheme of things and a shock tactic to shift more stock.
Whether you like or loathe the ad, Bodyform’s #redfit campaign is taking charge of the conversation surrounding women’s bodies. And it’s hard to argue that their chosen visual of strong, athletic women over girls prancing on a beach is a negative one. So the real question remains, is society ready to man up and accept that women are done hiding what’s naturally theirs?
Or is this one conversation that just needs to end?
Image @ BodyForm UK