Social media is habituated to waves of activist fervour, sometimes it is for toilets, sometimes for workplace harassment, and sometimes for Sanitary Napkins. From Culture Machine’s idea to include paid leave for periods, to the Padman Challenge, talking about sanitary napkins and female hygiene remains elitist, and aloof from ground reality.
With the Padman Challenge before the release of the film, actors have started posting their pictures with a sanitary napkin in hand. The effort in manifestly to remove taboos about menstruation hygiene, and latently, a gimmick for movie promotions.
The who’s who of Bollywood is taking it up. From Amir Khan to Dia Mirza, from Deepika Padukone to Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma.
Thank you for tagging me @akshaykumar ! Yes, that’s a Pad in my hand & there’s nothing to be ashamed about…It’s natural! Period. #PadManChallenge Copy, Paste this & Challenge your friends to take a photo with a Pad! Here I am challenging Badminton Champion & Olympic Medal Winner @pvsindhu1
But one wonders whether this social media wave will do anything real for girls?
Stand-up comedian Aditi Mittal tried to break the barrier by talking about sanitary napkins. How the pharmacist wraps it in layers deeper than cocaine smugglers on Afghan border, and how the intricate designs on the pad remind her of ancient architecture.
The debate on female hygiene products was revived again when the GST was introduced. The 12 percent Tampon tax invited many protests, as it was clubbed under a luxury item. And the women were upset that periods were not a luxury they desired, but a natural burden they had to bear.
The campaign #LahuKaLagaan, to persuade government to make sanitary napkins tax-free, garnered a lot of support from the celebrities like Vishal Dadlani, Aditi Rao Hydari, TaapseePannu and others.
Then came the advertisement showing blood for the first time. The new ad from Bodyform and Libresse is the first in the UK to depict real period blood. It is a part of their campaign Blood Normal. The ad also shows a boy buying a pack of napkins in a superstore.
The society needs to realise that this is a natural aspect of womanhood. Neither are they victims, nor do they enjoy it as a luxury. It is as basic to them as being humans. It is normal and it is a fact of their lives.
But the present Padman Challenge, with high celebrity quotient, may actually do little to stop women to walk with haltering steps when they enter a pharmacy once a month, or make them more comfortable around men during their time of the month.
The glamourized advertisements with girls winning sports championships, and spending the whole day out due to a commercial brand of sanitary napkins also have resolved the taboo that surrounds a pack of sanitary napkins.
Better efforts could be the one like the videos by girlyapa, who show sanitary napkins as everyday objects in other routine stories. Girls pay off debt for a cutting chai with one napkin, and keep the pack when they do bigger favours. This routinisation of the pad will do more to remove the assumed profanity, than celebrities taking picture before a Friday movie release.
Read Also: Did You Know These Bizarre Myths About Periods?
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