fitness

Expanding the conversation about menstruation

Last fall quite a number of friends circulated a new advertisement for BodyForm menstrual and intimate care products. It’s a lovely piece of advertising combining music, art, animation, and film describing a variety of experiences with menstruation. Here’s the link in case you haven’t seen it yet:

BodyForm made waves a few years ago when they decided to stop using blue fluid to represent menstrual blood. When you think about it, it is past the time when we have needed to think differently and talk openly about menstruation.

I like the advertisement for its acknowledgement of the myriad experiences of menstruation. It looks frankly at the experiences — the hopes, the fears, the anxieties, and the pain — this aspect of reproductive physiology represents and its physical and emotional effects on people who menstruate.

It packs quite a bit in its three minutes and the company acknowledges the contributions of people who shared their wombstories with the ad’s creators. We see everything from the beginning of menstruation and its ending to assisted reproduction, anxiety over possible conception, and unhappiness over missed conception.

Could this ad do more about changing our beliefs, biases and attitudes towards menstruation and the kinds of people who experience it — the joy, relief, sorrow, anger? Ability, age, binary, non binary, trans? Absolutely. Is it a stepping stone to more interesting conversations about menstruation? Yes indeed.

Periods and fitness have a complicated relationship. When I was growing up you could be excused from gym while menstruating. Being active while menstruating was also seen as risky — the world would fall apart if you leaked because then everyone would know!

You didn’t talk about it but you managed. Back in 1969, a huge uproar erupted when Gordon Sinclair, a retired male journalist asked Olympic swimmer Elaine Tanner how she dealt with periods while training/competing.

We’ve talked about menstruation before here on the blog. Back in 2018 fieldpoppy wrote what is now one of the blog’s most popular and most read posts. We’re seeing more spaces opening to talk about a process that half the population experiences for a good two thirds of their lives. Even the language we use to talk about it — people with uteruses — is changing to recognize the diversity of identities of people who menstruate. With the BodyForm advert, the intimate priduct industry and the marketing agencies behind them are also making sure we see these experiences differently too.

MarthaFist55 is a writer exploring all the ways she can make her body move in this world.

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