MENSTRUATION MATTERS

Tampax ad featuring tennis star Serena Williams.This advert for Tampax appears in the February 2010 issue of Marie Claire, and probably other ladymags as well. It shows tennis star Serena Williams posing in a victory stance with clenched fist in the foreground, while security guards cart off Mother Nature, who is bearing a red-wrapped gift for Serena. The legend printed across the picture reads, “Serena shuts out Mother Nature’s monthly gift”.

As I said previously, I have some ambivalence about these ads. In today’s period-hating cultural climate, it takes some courage for a celebrity to appear in advertisement for a menstrual product. And it’s great to see acknowledgement that an athlete can win contests at any phase of her menstrual cycle (even the Boston Marathon).

But look closely at this ad, and read the copy. What’s missing?

That’s right – there’s no mention of blood or menstruation. The word period, itself a euphemism, isn’t even used. Only the flowery, secretive euphemism “Mother Nature’s monthly gift” represents menses.

And Mother Nature is reduced from the clever, wise-cracking Aunt Flo portrayed here to a kooky sitcom aunt reminiscent of Gladys Kravitz. Who wants to receive her gift?

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