This period products brand got backlash for showing menstrual blood in an advertisement, and ugh

Advertisements for period products typically include a few things: Some sort of sporting event, smiling women proving how periods aren’t that bad, and either a clean, dry tampon or pad or one doused in a sort of blue liquid. What they don’t include? Menstrual blood—literally what the product being advertised is used for. This depiction of a stress-free, clean period experience just isn’t realistic. One brand is trying to change that.

Australian sanitary product brand Libra recently launched a campaign called Blood Normal, with the straightforward slogan, “Periods are normal. Showing them should be, too.”

We couldn’t agree with Libra’s mission more, and we’re cheering them on as they work to break the stigma of periods. Unfortunately, hundreds of people took issue with the advertisement, considering it graphic content that’s inappropriate for children to see on television.

In the ad, people are seen doing everyday things—lying in bed, reading, kissing, crying, swimming, laughing, wincing in pain—all things that occur during periods. In one scene, a woman speaks across a dinner table filled with both men and women and asks, “Do you have a pad?” And guess what? No one gasps or stops their conversation. It’s as if she asked for a tissue to blow her nose—as it should be.

About halfway through the ad, a trickle of menstrual blood is seen running down a woman’s leg in the shower, and a pair of white underwear is stained red with blood. At the end of the ad, a teenage girl removes a bloody pad from her underwear in a bathroom stall.

Hundreds of complaints claimed that these scenes were “graphic.” The Australian Advertising Standards dismissed these complaints in a statement to The Guardian, saying,

“The panel considered that the depiction of blood in the context of an advertisement for feminine hygiene products is not against prevailing community standards on health.

They continued, stating:

"The panel noted that the depiction is an accurate presentation of a real physical occurrence."

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. The statement also addressed the claims that this content was inappropriate for children to see—even though some children have periods themselves.

“The panel noted that although some members of the community would prefer not to see bodily fluids displayed on television, it was not a depiction which could be found to breach the code and its depiction in an advertisement which would be viewed by a broad audience including children is not inappropriate.

Menstrual blood is one of the most prevalent period symptoms, so it’s baffling how most sanitary product brands avoid showing it in their advertisements.

Leaving visible menstrual blood out of the narrative only encourages the idea that it’s taboo.

Another scene that stood out in the Blood Normal advertisement was an out of office email saying, “Thanks for the email, I have a very heavy period so will be working from home today.” Yes, periods can be manageable for some, but they can also cause people unbearable pain—and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Brands working to end the stigma of periods are so important, and normalizing menstrual blood is the best place to start. (After all, if there’s no blood, what are you using a tampon or pad for?) We salute Libra for leading the way for other sanitary product brands to hop on the visible menstrual blood train. Watch Libra’s Blood Normal advertisement below.

To quote Libra, it’s bloody awesome.

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