Project Abstract (2017)

Menstruation is a normal, healthy process for women, yet according to current research, many women experience stigma and shame in regards to their periods. Much of the stigma stems from a lack of education surrounding menstruation, which leads women to educate themselves through media. Advertisements are an inherently persuasive form of media, and as such, have a substantial influence on women’s perceptions of menstruation. Adolescents are particularly susceptible to such influence, given that they are shaping their views on menstruation post-menarche. This study evaluates whether the marketing of menstrual products today contributes to adolescents girls’ attitudes toward menstruation. To understand how the advertisements affect adolescent perceptions of menstruation, this research will make use of a two-pronged approach: a content analysis and a questionnaire. To determine the nature of the commercials, a coded content analysis made use of markers for insecurity and empowerment. From the content analysis, advertisements that prominently exhibited either empowerment or shame were selected to show participants. To quantify the effect of advertisements on the consumer, a Likert-scale questionnaire was administered to three groups of participants: a group exposed to empowering commercials, a groups exposed to shameful commercials, and a control group. The results will be compared to provide insight into the correlation between exposure to period commercials and adolescent attitudes towards menstruation. Understanding the role that advertisements play in shaping perceptions is a key step in reversing the stigma against menstruation.

Normal yet Stigmatized: An Analysis of Adolescent Reactions to the Marketing of Menstrual Products