Time of the month, the curse, shark week, code red, red wedding. These are just some of the nicknames used to avoid the word period. As a society for so long we have been avoiding the dreaded visit of Aunt Flow (honestly, who decided that lining of the uterus breaking down equated to the visit of an auntie?!)
I was 12 years old when I started my period. Scientifically I knew what a period was. We had studied the menstrual cycle in biology and pointed to our uteruses and during primary school sex education we all watched in slight traumatised horror as a tampon expanded in a glass of water (I say all, only the girls were privy to such scenes). But no one actually prepared me for the realities of having a period.
Needless to say, education was lacking, and a circle of shame formed around being on your period. I remember hiding pads up my sleeves when leaving class to go to the toilet (for context I went to an all-girls school so statistically at least 25% of the class were also on their period, but oh the embarrassment if someone knew I was menstruating).
For years adverts have shied away from showing blood instead replacing it with blue water but the mainstream media is slowly changing and menstruation is being normalised… Cue the rise of period TikTok. The addictive platform isn’t just filled with Lizzo and Louis Theroux dances there is a world of period education. Tips, tricks, product recommendations and general relatable content about the actual reality of being on your period and why we all need to be talking about it and break period shame.
American social entrepreneur and author of Period Power, Nadya Okamoto has dedicated her TikTok account to breaking the taboo on period shame. She is also the CEO and Co-Founder of lifestyle brand August, which works to reimagine periods to be powerful.
Through her content she tracks her flow on each day of her period, demonstrates how she applies her pads and tampons and shares with her viewers how her left boob growth warns her of her incoming period. But most importantly, Okamoto shows blood. Her real period blood. I have to admit that even I was shocked when I first found her content. Yet I see it myself first hand every month; it is only shocking as it isn’t normalised. Okamoto displays the leak proof nature of August’s products by showing how they actually work, with real blood and not a drizzle of red sauce.
Similarly actor and social media influencer Monica Geldart has paired up for an ad campaign with Tampax, informing her 1.1 million followers that there is no need to be nervous to use a tampon. The idea that a tampon hurts is a huge taboo, and playing the role of a Mum, Geldart informs her daughter Maisie that as long as she chooses the right absorbency for her flow “it will be so comfy she won’t even be able to feel it.” In another sketch she pretends to be the popular girl at school, taking her friend through an easy 3 step guide to inserting your tampon correctly: “your tampon is uncomfortable? Not to worry,” she reassures, “you see the trick is with a tampon you want to aim towards your lower back, and not go straight up with it.”
The Ad series is raising the conversation on uncomfortable tampons and educating women on how to insert one correctly, which can require a slightly different technique for everyone, all vaginas are different.
Other pages are dedicated to general tips and tricks to end period taboo. With almost 120k followers, Period tips n’ talk’s content includes debunking what each colour of period blood means, advising on different panty liner brands and even recommending what to do as a young girl if you are unprepared for the arrival of your period on holiday.