Written by Ashley Davies

Health

Woah, Bodyform!

A gritty new commercial for sanitary towels has Ashley Davies roaring with approval.

screenshot from Bodyform ad

Not, it’s not blue: the new Bodyform ad features an unusual amount of blood.

Jeremy Paxman going on Celebrity Big Brother, Kim Kardashian saying: “Do you think it’s too tight?” and Michael Gove retraining to be a teacher. Three things I thought were more likely to happen than me getting goosebumps from a goddamn sanitary towel ad.

That was before I saw the new commercial for Bodyform, the main thrust of its Red.Fit campaign. And then I saw it again. And again. I’ve watched it half a dozen times now and I’m still astonished by how impressive it is. I even cried a bit on the third viewing and I’m not even on me moons. Or ‘shark week’, as an excellent young relative of mine refers to it.

There are no fountains, no tight white jeans (who, other than Elizabeth Hurley wears those, by the way?), no chocolates, scented candles or inexplicably blue liquid. Just a bunch of impressive, hard-assed babes playing tough sports, getting hurt, laughing off or fighting through the pain and BLEEDING. Yes, a feminine hygiene product acknowledging the existence of the sticky red stuff. That’s a breakthrough.

To a soundtrack of rousing tribal music (sounds naff but it’s not) brought to life with a pounding dance beat daring us to surrender to euphoria, we see sweaty, often muddy, women playing rugby, mountain biking, doing ballet, boxing, surfing mountain climbing and (slight mystery, this one) doing a sort of Brienne-of-Tarth-off-Game-of-Thrones impersonation on a big horse. Then we see their injuries – the dancers’ mashed-up toes, a bloody, punched nose in the boxing ring, and various other haematic cuts and scrapes.

bloodied toes

Ouch.

A caption reads: “No blood should hold us back,” and at this point I well up a little bit and want to roar with pride and joy on behalf of half the population who are made to feel embarrassed and yucky because of this thing our bodies do as part of the process of sodding well ensuring that sodding humanity doesn’t sodding well die out.

It brings to mind that quote, unfortunately mis-attributed to Betty White off The Golden Girls: “Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”

Periods can be shit. They can be really sore and they can be messy and those of us who have them deserve to be respected for toughing it out as regularly as we do. Rather than girls being made to feel ashamed of them, they should be high-fived for getting through them without calling in sick, and those athletes and dancers who push their bodies to the limit when most of us would rather curl up with some gin and a book deserve ticker-tape parades.

The ad, which introduces Bodyform’s new ‘live fearless’ motto, was created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and has the backing of sports bodies such as the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Institute of Sports Exercise and Health. What’s more, Bodyform has recently invested in a two-year PhD programme – with University College London and St Mary’s University, Twickenham – exploring the effect of the menstrual cycle on women’s exercise and health.

And yes, of course Bodyform is doing all this to shift more units, but I, for one, am pleased with the way they’ve gone about it. Woah, Bodyform.

@msashleydavies

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Written by Ashley Davies

Ashley Davies is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor and the human behind animal satire website thelabreport.co.uk.