We've come a long way when it comes to talking about and depicting periods, but clearly not far enough. While these days it's more common to see realistic portrayals of what menstruation is like (and less blue liquid being poured on pads), period blood seems to still be taboo – at least, according to Facebook.
On September 16, period underwear label Modibodi launched a new film across multiple platforms, including social media. One platform was Facebook, where a 60-second cut of the ad was rejected due to a "violation of Facebook guidelines", according to Kristy Chong, Modibodi CEO and founder.
Chong and her team say they received an automated response email outlining the guidelines breach. "The “offending” scenes were a sheet with a bloodstain, a woman wringing out her underwear in the shower, and a bin overflowing with disposable hygiene items," Chong tells Broadsheet. "Specifically, they have quoted this clause: ads must not contain shocking, sensational, disrespectful or excessively violent content.”
The Modibodi team say they requested three human reviews of the ad, but were again rejected by the policy team at Facebook – even though YouTube, which had also flagged the video, eventually approved it. It's a disappointing outcome for Chong, as the film was created to actually work against the idea that period blood was shocking.
“Our aim for this film was to open people’s minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function. It was not made to be deliberately sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods,” says Chong. “It’s the 21st century and it’s disappointing Facebook doesn’t want to normalise the conversation around menstruation.”