From inexplicably happy roller-blading women in white shorts, to the unspecified science experts pouring an unknown blue liquid on sanitary towels as a proxy for menstrual blood; tampon and sanitary towel adverts have historically been the commercial pinnacle of society’s collective squeamishness with women’s bodies.
However, if in the past the advertising surrounding period products was the worst-excesses of one-dimensional gender stereotypes, Bodyform’s latest campaign could also be the tipping point, which finally ushers in a progressive and profoundly different narrative for women in advertising and beyond. ‘Groundbreaking’ may well be one of the most overused words in advertising but ‘Womb Stories’ created by AMV BBDO, marks a fundamental shift in the depiction of women’s bodies in advertising.
The campaign is a creative love letter to the unseen, unspoken and unknown stories of women’s wombs. The film spans understanding endometriosis, fertility treatment, menopause, periods, being childfree and experiencing miscarriage. Director Nisha Ganatra uses animation and film to weave together the emotional complexities of women’s bodies.
With #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse are aiming to push back at what the team describe as “the single, simplistic narrative girls are taught from a young age”. A linear narrative arc which begins with starting your period in adolescence, repeat with ‘a bit’ of pain, want a baby, get pregnant, have more periods, stop periods and fade into the menopausal background.
The reality is, of course, much messier, but society doesn’t encourage women to talk openly about the highs and lows of their intimate health, especially in times of global uncertainty. Yet new research by Bodyform & Libresse found that two thirds of women who experienced miscarriage, endometriosis, fertility issues and menopause said that being open with family and friends helped them to cope. An honesty which literally brings the oxygen to the room of women's experience; not only empowering them to not feel alone in their experience, but to seek and demand medical attention when they need it.