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The period just went mainstream

Heather Watson of Britain hits a return to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria during their women's singles first round match at the Australian Open 2015.
Reuters/Carlos Barria
Smashing taboos.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In the UK, the press is agog after a British tennis player mentioned menstruation, confronting the world of sport with a topic that until now has remained strictly unmentionable.

Heather Watson, the UK player who crashed out of the Australian Open, said “girl things” were part of the problem, and became one of the first athletes to raise the issue. Turns out, it happens—and in sports, sometimes it matters. (paywall)

It’s encouraging finally to see one of these “last taboos” getting blasted out of the court. Maybe CEOs, entrepreneurs and politicians will follow suit. Online, meanwhile, the monthly cycle already has traction.

Several US startups have set up e-commerce sites that ship sanitary products to your door. (Though one, which promises to save customers the “shame of the store,” isn’t exactly an advertisement for liberation.) Some target their products as gifts for teenagers—more celebration than curse—while others have simply realized that menstruating women are a big market.

A more lighthearted approach to the “red peril” is emerging online, where women themselves are laughing instead of cringing with embarrassment. Those marketing to them are taking advantage, with sometimes-hilarious viral videos and advertisements.

One, from the sanitary products delivery service HelloFlo, imagines the most awkward party of all time (“Your grandpa is bobbing for ovaries like a champ!”). It has been watched almost 30 million times since it went online in July.

Established brands have also got the message that menstruation is now something women are happy openly to discuss, and to laugh at. In a 2012 video, the pad company Bodyform’s CEO apologizes for inventing the myth of a carefree period with “metaphors” such as skydiving and horse-riding:

A Russian Tampax ad went viral with some Vice-like humor, depicting a women being eaten by a shark because she didn’t use the tampon company’s leak-proof product.

Meanwhile, Mooncup, a reusable silicon cup that catches menstrual blood, pitted tampons against its own product in an epic rap battle:

It’s becoming clear that plenty of women are perfectly comfortable talking about, laughing at, and—when necessary—taking seriously their monthly bleed. They might as well do so in the open.

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