Supermarkets, stop calling period products “feminine hygiene”. #RenameDontShame

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Supermarkets, we want you to #RenameDontShame

We want to see supermarkets and retailers in the UK and North America commit to tackling the stigma around periods. We are asking them to change their product signposting in store and online from ‘feminine hygiene’ or ‘sanitary products’, to ‘period products’ or ‘menstrual products’.

The use of the terms ‘sanitary products’ or ‘feminine hygiene products’ suggests there is something unsanitary or unhygienic about having a period when this is not the case. Avoiding terms like ‘period’ and ‘menstruation’, as though they are shameful, upholds the very real stigma around this natural bodily function. This stigma affects people’s quality of life, every day.

As well as this, the word ‘feminine’ assumes that all people who have periods are feminine. This is not the case – trans men and non-binary people can have periods too. The use of the term ‘feminine hygiene’ suggests you need to have a period to be ‘feminine’, when trans women and plenty of cis women don’t have periods.

We think it’s time our society ditched the code words and started calling it what it is – a period. Then we can begin to have a mature and respectful conversation about the biology behind menstruation and remove some of the shame from the subject.
If supermarkets commit to making this small but powerful change, they will be sending an important message – periods are not dirty and they are not something to be ashamed of!

Why is this important?

Around 26% of the global population have periods every month*. Having a period is a very normal part of life for a lot of people. Despite this, there is still very little honest, public conversation about the reality of having a period, meaning that people who have periods are made to feel shame from when they first enter puberty.
48% of girls in the UK report feeling ‘embarrassed’ about their periods, and this figure rises to 56% when they reach the age of 14**. In the US, 58% of women have felt embarrassment from their period***

Who has already made the change?

New Zealand’s supermarket chain, Countdown, has sparked an international conversation about this issue, by being the first to change the name of their product aisles4. Multiple online retailers have taken the initiative in the UK, such as Abel and Cole, and Ethical Superstore – but so far, no physical retailer has made the change in the UK, nor in North America.

Who are Natracare?

Natracare was created in 1989 as a campaign to shake up the period protection industry and provide an eco-friendly alternative to the chemical and plastic laden products that dominated the market.

Natracare campaigns for healthy people, healthy products and a healthy planet.

You can learn more about this issue on the Natracare blog at https://www.natracare.com/blog/its-time-for-supermarkets-to-ditch-period-stigma

References

* https://menstrualhygieneday.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Menstrual-hygiene-matters-low-resolution.pdf

** https://plan-uk.org/file/plan-uk-break-the-barriers-report-032018pdf/download?token=Fs-HYP3v

*** https://menstrualhygieneday.org/nearly-half-us-women-experienced-period-shaming/

**** https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/26/new-zealand-supermarket-chain-countdown-becomes-first-to-use-period-label-on-menstrual-products