vaginal discharge. now i've said it, too. (thanks, carefree.)

How can it be that an advertisement is considered controversial because it clearly states the intended use of its product?

Strangely, it makes perfect sense, in a world where legislators are banned from their workplaces for uttering the word vagina, where breasts are used to sell everything in creation, but the most basic function of a breast - feeding babies - must be hidden from view. A world where the product in question is itself marketed under a euphemism: feminine hygiene.

Thank you, Carefree, for an ad that uses plain language. Thank you, too, to model Cody Condell, who says she is "proud to be part of" the Australian Carefree campaign. Now would everyone else just grow up?
How would you describe the substance that comes out of a woman's private parts when she's not menstruating?

Let’s just call it what it is: vaginal discharge.

That’s what Carefree did in its latest ad for underwear liners, which shows a naked young woman, her body hidden behind white flowers, discussing the often taboo subject of female bodily functions.

Ads for “feminine care” products are replete with euphemisms (and what’s with the blue liquid?), featuring young women beaming at the camera while they strike a yoga pose or jump off a diving board.

“You never see a bathroom, you never see a woman using a product,” Elissa Stein, co-author of the book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, told The New York Times in a 2010 article about menstrual product ads. “They never show someone having cramps or her face breaking out or tearful – it’s always happy, playful, sporty women.”

After the Carefree ad aired Sunday night, the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia starting receiving complaints – five so far. But the company has defended the commercial, saying it is “the first time a major brand has had the guts to use real words, not euphemisms or diminutive terms."

Campaign spokeswoman Debbie Selikman told Nine News in Australia that Carefree conducted research and found that women wanted ads to use the proper terminology for their anatomy; other words used for vagina made women feel like they should be ashamed or embarrassed about their bodies.

It wasn’t until 1985 that the word “period” was said on TV in a Tampax commercial by none other than Courteney Cox (before Friends, of course). That was 27 years ago. Maybe one day we’ll look back and think how silly it was that “vaginal discharge” would be described in any other way.

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