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?"
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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."

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Olga Khazan is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

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