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an open letter to carefree

Dear Carefree,

Thank you. Thank you for calling my vagina a vagina. Thank you for talking to me like I’m an adult. Thank you for not reducing my menstruation to a pun with a stuffed beaver. Thank you.

Growing up, I often wondered why the creators of commercials for pads and tampons thought my blood was blue. It was curious to me that the makers of these products had no grasp of female biology. Recently, I started to understand. I am supposed to be ashamed. I am supposed to be uncomfortable that I have bodily functions. I am supposed to be ashamed of vaginal discharge and the fact that it exists. I am glad you have called bullshit on that one.

A friend of mine sent me an article about the ‘controversy’ surrounding your frank and direct ad. You know, the ad that uses the words vagina and discharge when discussing panty liners for vaginal discharge. The interesting thing for me was that he said he thought the use of the word ‘discharge’ was far more unsettling than ‘vagina’. Why is that? Why is either word triggering complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau? I am a woman. Fifty-one percent of the world population are women. We menstruate. We have vaginas. Vaginas discharge. It is biology. It is my biology and I will not be made to feel ashamed of it.

I wonder what this kind of societal shame surrounding female anatomy does to us. When people complain about using the anatomically correct terms for female anatomy, what does that say about society’s feelings about women?

Recently, in the Michigan House of Representatives in the United States, Representative Lisa Brown said, in response to a bill restricting female reproductive rights, ‘I am flattered you are all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.’ Brown was not allowed to speak in the House for two days. Republican Representative Mike Callton said Brown’s comment ‘was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.’

We need an antidote to this shame. I am grateful that your commercial has acknowledged that and is standing up for women’s bodies. Your campaign spokesperson, Debbie Selikman said, ‘Women have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed about and should be confident of their body’. Thank you.

I hope your company continues to acknowledge the female body, in all its functional glory. I hope your actions encourage more open discussion about women’s health in the media. I hope at least one confused teenage girl sees your ad and feels a little less confused as a result. I hope this ‘controversy’ only encourages you to create more of these great discussions.

Thanks again.

Yours sincerely,

A grateful woman

(Image credit)

7 thoughts on “an open letter to carefree

  1. Also Carefree,

    On behalf of we – the male populous – thank you for bringing a new simply gorgeous talent to our screen. Casting indeed, deserves a ‘golf-clap’; she delivers with a natural confidence & conviction the essence of the Brand. You’d be suprised just how often we given the task to pick up the ‘essentials’ for our girlfriend’s vagina (kudos to the letter prior).

    Brands are intrinsically complex entities!
    Thank you,
    Ipikata

  2. Pingback: Feminist News Round-up 22.07.12 | Featured | News | Lip Magazine

  3. Hi Sara.
    My name is Michelle Forster and I am the Women’s Health Manager at Johnson and Johnson Pacific. I wanted to let you know that we have seen your open letter on our Carefree campaign and wanted to thank you for your kind comments. In fact we have printed it out and hung it over our work area to remind us of your challenge about encouraging more open conversations about women’s bodys.
    Kind regards
    Michelle Forster

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your response. I am sure you have received a flood of positive feedback (amongst the ‘backlash’), so I feel very humbled that you have hung my letter up in your office and taken the time to reply. Women feeling empowered in all areas of their lives is a cause very close to my heart. Seeing an organisation like Johnson & Johnson actively involved in honest and accurate conversations about women’s health inspires me and a lot of other women.

      Thanks again,

      Sara

  4. Had to comment with a Thank You of my own. This is beautifully said and I agree wholeheartedly.
    It’s so refreshing to have an advert without the twee, fuzzy, “cute” and careful euphemisms.

  5. Pingback: Carefree Discusses Vaginal Discharge On The Telly (Again) | Featured | Lip Magazine

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