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No one bleeds in blue

Monthly bleeding is a woman's natural condition. Since it is nature, we should not shy away from it. The media needs to earn its red wings and start portraying periods for what they are: bloody messes.


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Misrepresentation of women in the media is prevalent in tampon and sanitary napkin (pad) commercials. There is a time and a place for cleanliness and tactfulness in advertising, but right now things are totally backward.


Tampon and pad commercials are replete with dancing white ladies in white dresses or sleek white lab coats pouring blue liquid from a test tube onto a pristine white pad. Then a French-manicured hand will pretend to wipe the pad and reveal its palm to the camera (so absorbent!). They show women dancing while a brief graphic of a tampon expanding like a Flamenco skirt flashes on the screen.


Things are portrayed as clean when they are inherently messy and most items are portrayed as sexy when they are inherently asexual. Forced, over-the-top sexuality in advertising has become so redundant that people are practically immune to it. Sexy cheeseburgers? People apathetically accept this. Sexy car insurance? Sign me up!


Meanwhile, the manufacturers of a hygienic product have the most sterile commercials. This makes sense to a certain extent because they are trying to emphasize that the product will keep you clean. However, tampon and pad commercials would do well to emulate Carl's Jr.'s advertising tactics. Maybe they could use a slogan like, ""If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your pants.""


It is false advertising to pretend that the product prevents leaks perfectly. Even on a light day, my period apparatus of choice (whether it be a sanitary napkin or tampon) does not come out as squeaky clean as they propose. Moreover, I certainly don't bleed in blue.


Yes, periods are dirty. Yes, female hygienic products are for reducing the mess. But at least other cleaning products commonly juxtapose a dirty ""before"" with a surreptitiously clean ""after.""


Take the Stanley Steemer commercials, where children are given free reign in a room to defile a carpet with ice cream, soda and sticky goodies. Then they show us how their magic vacuums suck it all up and make it clean.


Why are pad and tampon commercials so transparently fictitious? Why can't they be true to reality as well? Men and women alike have to watch those commercials; they might as well be entertaining.


I want to see tampon commercials with torrents of blood exploding through the walls while the Kool-Aid Man comes to a woman's rescue with a bouquet of tampons. I want to see tampons corking up boats on the Red Sea. I want reality so that the media will stop subconsciously shaming women into thinking that they are inherently dirty.


In her book ""Clean: A history of personal hygiene and purity,"" Virginia Smith notes that in Greek times ""women were considered to be creatures of darkness, the moon, the left side, and metaphysically 'unbounded.'"" She goes on to quote Anne Carson, saying, ""She swells, she shrinks, she leaks, she is penetrated. She suffers metamorphoses.""


Women are clearly many things, but sterile is not one of them, especially not during that time of the month. For a product that is expressly marketed toward women, these advertisements fatally fail to acknowledge that women (and men) can have a sense of humor about periods.


Maybe I'm wrong and there is a whole slew of demure women with trickling blue-blood periods. Maybe that's what happens when you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. But I have yet to meet the woman who matches these criteria, despite the plethora of them dancing in tampon and pad commercials.


I hate to break it to the manufacturers of women's hygiene products, but I'm more inclined to buy cotton for my cooch based on what's on sale, not based on some prissy advertisement that I saw on television that doesn't even remotely reflect anyone's personal periodic experience.


- Alexandria Kassman is a creative writing and Spanish senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Updated December 5, 2021