Facebook has banned an ad from Australian period underwear brand Modibodi for its depiction of menstrual blood.
The ad, which premiered a week ago, boasts that Modibodi's selection of period underwear offers women a different experience of menstruation, sans uncomfortable tampons and lumpy pads.
The ad was praised by women for its seemingly authentic representation of the experience of having a period, with one woman featured clearly suffering from cramps, images of bloody sheets and sanitary products, and another woman rinsing the blood out of a pair of period underwear. The campaign also features women from diverse backgrounds and with a range of body types.
But Facebook has said the ad violates its guidelines about "shocking" and "sensational" content because of its images of menstrual blood. Modibodi has attempted to fight the ruling three times, but Facebook has maintained the ban, News.com.au reports.
Founder and CEO Kristy Chong said in a statement that Facebook's decision was "outdated". "Our aim for this film was to open people's minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function for women. It was not made to be deliberately sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods.
"It's the 21st century and it's disappointing Facebook don't want to normalise the conversation around menstruation."
The ad, which runs on regional free-to-air and subscription TV, was also banned on YouTube at first but was later reinstated. The brand is expected to take out the three scenes using the colour red in order for the video to appear as an ad on Facebook. The original video is still available as a pinned post on Modibodi's Facebook page.
"From the very beginning, I was repeatedly told we'd need super glamorous models to make supposed unmentionable topics (menstruation and incontinence) tolerable to Australian women and the media," Kirsty's statement continued. "I refused to believe this was the only way we could have a presence in the market and from day one we've sourced customers or everyday women from diverse backgrounds to help model and sell our products."
If anything, it's refreshing to see a company honestly reflect the reality of being a person who menstruates, rather than the advertising norm of blue liquid and other metaphors for the normal bodily function. Avoiding showing images of blood just contributes to stigma and shame around menstruation and women's bodies.
Last year, more than 600 people complained about the first ad on Australian TV to show menstrual blood. The Libra ad included footage of a woman in the shower, with blood and water running down her legs, and a girl removing a bloody pad. At the time, as the ABC wrote, the industry body handling such complaints, Ad Standards, found that the ad did not breach the advertising Code of Ethics.
Here's to teaching women — and social media companies — that there's nothing shameful about periods, in all their bloody glory.