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DAME bus
courtesy of DAME

A tampon string is appearing on the sides of buses for the very first time

We’ve come a long way from blue period blood

When it comes to periods the general sentiment has traditionally been out of sight, out of mind. From the ubiquitous blue liquid and coded language that is often used in advertisements to Instagram’s history of censoring images of blood-spotted sheets and sanitary pads, the message seems to be it’s fine to menstruate but don’t talk about it and definitely don’t show it.  

Last month, when Norwegian influencer Sophie Elise posted an image with a visible tampon string she received an outpouring of negativity. “I got so many nasty messages but the ones that shock me the most are those from women who say that I’m a bad role model and that I should just hide the fact that I’m on my period,” she told Metro. Instances like this show how important it is to break the cycle of negative messaging around menstruating and continue the push to normalise periods. This is the idea behind sustainable period brand DAME’s latest campaign.

Thanks to DAME, for the very first time tampon strings will feature front and centre on London buses – a direct challenge to our tendency to shy away from the subject. “Tampons and period products have been hidden in the shadows for too long,” DAME co-founder Celia Pool tells us. “Still today, major brands boast on their boxes about silent wrappers. Why? There's no shame in rustling a tampon wrapper in the next door cubicle. Periods are not shameful.” 

The campaign features Demi Colleen, a veterinary nurse, law student, and vegan beauty blogger, who also styled the image herself, standing in her underwear with a visible tampon string hanging down. It wasn’t an easy road to bring the campaign to light, however. “We faced many roadblocks,” explains co-founder Alec Mills who says he was told that the ad was too ‘racy’ and would encounter problems broadcasting it on breakfast shows. “Many iterations of our advert got rejected. This clearly demonstrates the vast cultural chasm between what is happening with women’s bodies and how they are portrayed in reality.”

DAME, who created the world’s first reusable tampon applicator in an effort to help cut down on single-use plastic and last year became the first period brand to be climate positive, are hoping that by showing the realities of periods the campaign will help remove the stigma that many women and people who menstruate face.

“This tampon string on the side of the bus is momentous, in that it hasn't happened before, but it's also utterly boring and normal. No one bats an eyelid when they see a tissue on the side of the bus, and it should be the same for a tampon string,” says Pool. “If every parent and carer were this cool about periods, period shame would be eradicated in one generation.”