Can you remember the last time you heard someone talk about vaginal discharge on the television, or even just in public? Probably not, because we're conditioned to think of discharge as "icky." Vaginal discharge beats out even incontinence for the title of "She Who Must Not Be Named" in the feminine hygiene industry; it's as if we've all made a collective oath to pretend it's not a normal, healthy body function all women experience in the hopes that if we continually refuse to acknowlege its existence, it'll just go away.
Except Carefree did some research before launching a new ad campaign for its underwear liners and found that women are sick of feeling embarrassed about their bodies and just want to call a vagina a fucking vagina. Predictably, the ad — which just went live last night — has already received enough complaints to force the company to defend its controversial decision not to giggle about "ladyparts" and "feeling fresh."
"How well do you know your body?" asks a naked woman in the ad, her body tastefully covered up behind white flowers. (Sure, she's nude, but we've seen way more skin in Carl's Jr. ads and Disney movies.) "Even that bit of discharge...is our body working to keep the vagina healthy." OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!
A spokesperson from the Advertising Standards Bureau told ninemsn that the ad started receiving complaints as soon as it launched last night. What's more depressing — that some people have nothing better to do than call in complaints about ads that barely have any views on YouTube yet, or that the word "vagina" is still considered controversial and "discharge" is still considered abnormal even within the context of trying to sell women products for their vaginas?
Debbie Selikman, the campaign's spokesperson, said that the ad was revolutionary because "It's the first time a major brand has had the guts to use real words, not euphemisms or diminutive terms." (It's actually thought to be the first ever use of the word "vagina" in a New Zealand ad.) And why the nudity? "It shows women have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed about and should be confident of their body," she said.
The nudity is kind of silly — how many "real women" do you know who hang out nude behind white flowers? — but the ad is a much-needed departure from other feminine hygiene campaigns. A few weeks ago, we wrote about the UK-based FemFresh, a self-described "daily intimate wash," which uses words like mini, twinkle, hoo haa, flower, fancy, yoni and lady garden to describe the vagina. It's refreshing for a company to admit that women aren't beautiful, vagina-less flowers (even if they're hiding behind them), and that discharge is perfectly normal and okay.