Menstrual stigma in the public discourse has been cultivated for many years and menstrual product advertising has been an active contributor to strengthening its effect. The notion of secrecy and shame around menstruation is deeply rooted in the concepts of impurity and curse and aims to control and discipline female bodies through objectification and sexualization. Menstrual activist brands by opposing the standards of the conventional femcare industry and building their personality around affordability, sustainability and inclusivity, create a new destigmatizing direction in menstrual discourse. By qualitative thematic analysis of textual and visual content of 175 Instagram posts by menstrual activist brands, this paper aimed to answer the research question: “Destigmatization of menstruation: how do menstrual activist brands from the UK represent menstruation and menstruators online and challenge the perception of younger generations?”As a result, eight themes of the menstrual narrative were established, among which six were classified as destigmatizing and two as stigmatizing, showing that even among menstrual activist brands menstrual stigma is present. The destigmatizing themes determined that menstrual activist brands challenge the perception of young generations on menstruation through the open and honest educational approach to the body, its biological functions, and physical features, by promoting a progressive outlook on femininity and sexuality, by eliminating the concept of menstrual impurity and environmental noxiousness and to some extent by discovering empowerment in the process of menstruation. Nonetheless, it was established that by pushing their marketing goals forward these brands also perpetuate popular stigmatizing narratives present in the media for decades: menstrual shame akin to the promotion of advanced concealment of menstruation, and the cultivation of an image of an out-of-control, PMSing female menstruator. Additionally, the dominant themes of visual brand identity communication of each brand and the analysis of visual branding elements were examined to determine the variety of ways in which menstrual activist brands establish their brand identity and communicate it to their younger target audiences. The study has important academic and managerial implications as it develops a framework for the destigmatization of menstruation which can be further reevaluated by academic scholars but also could serve as a blueprint for menstrual product producers, who seek new ways of communication promoting menstrual normalization.

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Dr. Niels Frederik Lund
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Adrianna Monika Matczak. (2022, July 25). (De)stigmatizing menstruation how do menstrual activist brands from the UK represent menstruation and menstruators online and challenge the perception of young generations?. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from