Brands are advancing the narrative around periods, making it inclusive of a wider range of experiences.
Periods are being ungendered and destigmatized thanks to a host of brands changing their language, marketing and products to better represent a variety of experiences.
In July, Superdrug released a range of gender-neutral tampons and pads for “people who menstruate.” The change in language aims to include transgender and non-binary people who have been ostracized or overlooked by traditional marketing from period brands.
Callaly is also changing how they talk about periods. Launched the same month, #TheWholeBloodyTruth campaign aims to give a voice to the trans people who menstruate and move the industry past the singular, narrow story about periods and those who have them. “It’s time we recognized that not only cisgender women have periods,” Kate Huang, CMO of Callaly told Forbes.
As part of the campaign, Callaly released research that shows two-thirds (66%) of people don’t feel their experience of periods is shown in the media and advertising. To being to amend this, Callaly has committed to using gender-inclusive terms like “period care” instead of “femcare” and “people with periods” instead of women, to better reflect the diversity of people with periods. “We want every person with a period to feel seen, heard and represented, and will continue to innovate with products that serve all people with periods,” Huang pledged.
Likewise, period care brand Saalt launched a July campaign reminding people that there’s no “right way” to menstruate. The campaign, called “How You Period,” aims to advance the category past the reductive marketing tropes of women smiling and twirling in white dresses. “We don’t have to do our periods in a traditional way,” reads an Instagram post from Saalt. “Periods and period care should fit our lifestyles and not the other way around.”
These campaigns follow Procter & Gamble’s removal of the Venus symbol—which is a traditional emblem of femininity—from Always period products and packages in October 2019.
“This isn’t a box-ticking exercise,” Huang assured, “it’s about understanding one another better so we can build a more compassionate, cohesive society.” And while it may feel like a footnote in the face of the many changes that have occurred this year, Huang argues that the sweeping upheaval is an opportunity to reexamine the restrictive and outdated narratives that are overdue for change. “Generations will remember this year for the seismic shifts we see in society. But out of troubled times,” Huang observed, “comes a new order, and—at last—we are creating space for long-overdue conversations about personal identity.”