By Lauren Rearick
Shopping for period products can be a semi-annoying habit at best, or a financial struggle that can impact a person’s ability to eat or go to school at worst. But now one company is support the fight towards making the process that much more inclusive: On Tuesday (October 22) Procter & Gamble announced it will be removing a Venus symbol from Always brand sanitary pads.
In a statement provided to CNN, Always announced it was removing the symbol from its period product packaging, including on pad and tampon wrappers. As noted by NBC News, the symbol is typically associated with the idea of feminitiy, and some transgender and non-binary people had expressed concern regarding its apperance on Always’s products, given that more people than women experience menstruation.
The symbol was a relatively new addition to packaging, by several account; it had appeared as early as last year on products, according to NBC News, and has continued to be a topic of conversation on Twitter. (MTV News has reached out to Procter & Gamble for clarity on when, and why, the symbol was first included, but they did not respond by publish time.)
“Not every person who menstruates is female,” one person tweeted in April 2018. Another person shared similar sentiments, writing, “I understand what you may be trying to do by adding the Venus symbol all over your packaging, but please consider that not every person who uses your products is female. Men and nb folks can get periods too.”
Although it’s unclear whether continued social media pressure directly led to the recent change, the company did confirm it wanted to be more inclusive. “For over 35 years, Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” Procter and Gamble’s media relations team said in an emailed statement to The Independent. “We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion, and after hearing from many people across genders and age groups, we realized that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female. To ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable in doing so with Always, we updated our pad wrapper design.”
Joanna McClintick, youth sexual health coordinator at The Center, told MTV News that decision is particularly significant given how impactful a period can be for transgender and non-binary people. "The simple fact of having a period can be traumatic or gender dysphoric for young people in the gender nonconforming and trans male or masc communities; it can cause disappointing feelings about how their body is going to change in contrast to their identity as they grow,” they said. “That's compounded when you think about how much we associate period language and products specifically with 'womanhood.' That's why this move to be more inclusive with product packaging is so important: It's a reminder to everyone that getting your period is just part of puberty, regardless of your gender. It creates more room for everyone to navigate this part of their life without promoting shame." The redesigned packaging is expected to be seen on products around the world by February 2020, NBC News reported.
A change in period packaging is a positive step forward, but as Nadya Okamota, the founder of PERIOD previously explained to MTV News, continued work in making menstruation more inclusive is needed. “We try to come at [periods] from a very gender-inclusive way, starting with our language,” Okamoto said of her organization, “and we acknowledge that not all women menstruate, and that not all menstruators are women. Femininity is about gender expression and has nothing to do with the biological process of menstruating.”
Even with the significant change in packaging, the Always website still contains language that equates having a period with a specific gender. MTV News asked whether the company intends to change that messaging, but did not hear back as of publish time.