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SINGAPORE – Back in 2019, the UN warned that stigma around menstrual health was disempowering women worldwide, calling for action to end it. Instead, in rural parts of Nepal and India, the practice of banishing women to outpost huts or houses is common when they have their periods.
In metropolitan parts of Southeast Asia, while the attitudes towards menstruating women aren't as archaic, stigmas surrounding periods still exist to some degree.
To help drive a more open conversation around periods, Kotex launched a social video campaign titled Unfiltered with the aim of instilling confidence and encouraging girls to talk about menstruation at an early age.
The Unfiltered video featuring a diverse range of girls between the ages of 11 to 14, spotlights the unfiltered questions around menstruation shared by girls across Asia – questions that not too long ago would have been stigmatised to ask in public.
To find out more about the campaign and the creative process behind it, we spoke to the campaign's video director Amanda Tan.
Talk us through the angle and direction you took in making Unfiltered
Talking about periods has long been a taboo subject, and we wanted to put an end to this. Hence, Unfiltered was developed to help break the silence and stigma around menstruation and to celebrate the genuine, unfiltered questions that young girls have on periods.
With that in mind, we reached out to a range of girls with different experiences, upbringings, and backgrounds so that every voice could be heard. We want girls who watch this to be able to see themselves in the video, to know they are not alone. By spotlighting these unfiltered questions by young girls, we are one step closer to changing the way we talk about periods.
Was there a reason girls between the ages of 11 to 14 were chosen for the campaign?
Today, we are starting to see a younger generation of girls challenging the stigma. We believe that these conversations need to happen with young girls who are starting to experience their first periods, hence the decision to spotlight the questions from young girls between the ages of 11 and 14. This new generation of girls is so full of knowledge and much more open, which is why we wanted to put them forth and encourage all young girls to feel comfortable talking freely and confidently about their periods.
Tell us more about your experience interacting with these girls and if there was anything interesting you encountered while working with them?
It was refreshing to be able to talk about something that we usually keep under wraps. Talking to these girls brought me back to my own teenage years, where I also had questions and insecurities around menstruation, and it really allowed me to interact with them on a personal level and find out their concerns.
Why do you think it's important to talk about periods?
Periods are a natural part of life, yet many of us still feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it because of the stigma surrounding menstruation. How else can we navigate a crossroad in our lives if we don't talk about it!
As a filmmaker and creative individual, how do you think the media could move the needle on discussing period stigma?
The media plays a very important role in increasing public awareness and collecting the views, information and attitudes toward certain issues or topics, and it is a powerful force that helps dictate social norms. Young girls are so influenced by what they read and see online, so I would love to see more conversations and articles normalising talking about periods, women's bodies, gender biases.
Could you share some of your experience talking about periods and any stigma you've once felt?
When I was a kid, I guess the norm was to have people go "ewww" or make it seem like something unnatural. I believe that it is our social responsibility to educate both young boys and girls to embrace what is natural to help break the stigma.