If you are active on social media, you probably know that the newest marketing gimmick for Bollywood to promote their movies is a set of challenges, wherein they dare three fellow celebrities to complete a task, setting of a chain of three challenges being issued.
While I personally feel it’s a smart technique to promote your movie, I have suddenly developed a sense of annoyance as well. Why, you ask? Well, thanks to current trend of celebrities holding sanitary pads and posting the picture on their social media profile with a caption: “Yes, that’s a pad in my hand & there’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s natural! Period.”
I see the movement is gaining pace and while it’s a great way to open a dialogue about normalising periods, I also feel there’s so much more they can do with it. To be honest, I am getting sick of looking at these pictures with identical captions and it all brings down to one question – how is holding a pad solving any problem?
The woke men and women in the 21st century, present on social media, already know that menstruation is natural, one shouldn’t be ashamed of it and seeing a pad in a celebrity’s hand is just as good as watching a sanitary napkin ad on TV. And if at all, the celebrities are addressing the people present on social media who still consider periods a taboo – what new wave are these celebrities hoping to create; ultimately, it’s just a picture with a pad, and the same repetitive caption? Nothing, right?
Having said that, I’d like to clear my stand that a movie like Padman will actually help bring a social change. But my problem lies in the fact that these celebrities, who have millions of followers on their social media profiles, are not using the same platform to raise their voices against the larger issues. They are influencers, and people, more often than not, follow their favourite celebrities blindly. Imagine how influential it would have been if our celebrities talked about the following:
1. Taxation on sanitary pads
Where were all these celebrities when #LahuKaLagaan was trending on social media, when women all around the country were fighting for making pads tax-free? Why is no one talking about how it’s extremely pathetic that our government won’t make a basic necessity like sanitary pads free from GST? Why is no celebrity talking about the real issue here? Imagine if the number of celebrities posting these pictures of pads holding a sanitary napkin with the same monotonous caption, brought the issue of taxation on sanitary pads? What would the effect had been, just imagine?
2. Low-cost sanitary pads
The movie Padman talks about Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man behind low-cost sanitary pads but how many celebrities are talking about him? Of course, you can’t reveal the film plot before its release but you can definitely introduce people to the concept of low-cost sanitary pads. And definitely not the people who are on social media, and can afford the sanitary pads, anyway. According to SheSays India, our country’s population includes over 497 million women and only 12% women use sanitary napkins. 80% of women avoid using sanitary napkins because of the high cost in comparison to traditional methods. Not using sanitary napkins affects a woman’s menstrual hygiene, which leads to reproductive tract infections and other diseases. Guess what? No celebrity is talking about it. WHY?
3. Menstrual hygiene and waste
Another important discussion we need to have is about menstrual waste. Disposing sanitary pads in India is a complex issue. How many times have you seen a soiled sanitary napkin lying on the roadside? These sanitary napkins are polluting our environment and creating a mess, yet no celebrity is talking about it. I mean, just why?
The pad posting challenge campaign has gotten to a level where it’s about posting a picture just for the heck of it. If these celebrities can’t use their social media influence for making people aware about the real issue, here – why are they even trying? I have a sincere request for our celebrities – of course, we do appreciate the reach this campaign has got, but let’s not make it about a film. Let’s make it about the issue that exists in our country. Let’s make it about educating the ‘right’ people, and saying the right things about periods. Let’s make it about reaching the masses, who don’t know what a sanitary pad is. Let’s just, genuinely, and wholeheartedly, make it about bringing a change.
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