What If Sanitary Pad Ads Didn't Use Blue Fluid?

"When it comes to your period, what's the first thing that comes to mind?"

Ladies, don't you hate that time of the month, when your body gently exudes an inoffensive, light-blue liquid?

The parody ad above, by the UCB comedy troupe, shows us what happens when perhaps the most famous of advertising euphemisms is shattered.

(Warning: The video is uncomfortable to watch—the substance they use has both the color and viscosity of the real thing.)

Here's one of the original "blue liquid" ads, from 1997:

Color isn't the only menstrual taboo in advertising: In 2010, Kotex was told it couldn't use the word "vagina" in its ads on three broadcast networks, and "down there" was also forbidden.

“Fem-care advertising is so sterilized and so removed from what a period is,”  Elissa Stein, co-author of the book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, told the New York Times. “You never see a bathroom, you never see a woman using a product. They never show someone having cramps or her face breaking out or tearful — it’s always happy, playful, sporty women.”

Of course, now feminine product makers are starting to turn our discomfort with menstruation into a marketing tactic.

"I tied a tampon to my keyring so my brother wouldn't take my car," a print ad by Kotex reads. "It worked."

Presented by

Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

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