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“Always My Fit:” Empowering or Body Shaming?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

Thumbnail image credit to always.com

In June, Always introduced a new sizing system for their feminine hygiene pads called Always My Fit. According to the brand, 60 percent of girls and women are wearing the wrong size pad and, thus, experience menstrual leaks every month. Each box of Always feminine pads now shows a grid where women are supposed to match their panty size to the correct pad size. Always has assigned each pad size a number, ranging from one to five. “One” corresponds to Ultra Thin Regular pads and “five” to Extra Heavy, according to the products on their website.

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Okay! So Always wants to help women end their menstrual leaks, what’s so bad about that? Well, I can’t help but feel as if Always’ campaign body shames plus size girls and women and furthers the stigma surrounding menstruation.

Lisa, a P&G FemCare Team member, says, “The size is just a rough guide to how much garment surface the pad will cover.” Women’s underwear may be larger in size around the waist, but this doesn’t mean the area where a pad goes is any bigger! In fact, Wendy Shanker, author of The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life, writes how in 2004, she saw an ad on TV for the Always Maximum Protection Maxipad. It was marketed specifically to women sizes 14 and up. Thirteen years later, I guess Always hasn’t learned that plus size women don’t necessarily need bigger pads.

Taylor Bassinger, a Florida State University alumnus and nursing student, says, “Panty size does not have any correlation with the size of a women’s vaginal opening.” Bassinger worked on a Labor and Delivery floor of a hospital, and she says women of varying weights all have very similarly-sized vaginal openings. So, why is Always using panty size as a determinant in choosing a pad size? Lisa from P&G says, “Research result specifics are proprietary,” meaning they’re owned by the company.

Perhaps if the research were released to the public, we could decide for ourselves whether panty size determines pad size, as Always has.

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Having a period is as normal as eating, breathing and sleeping for many women. Yet we as women are still taught to be ashamed of our periods. When we discuss it with other women, we unconsciously lower our voices so no one around us can hear. As young, awkward teenage girls, we were embarrassed to buy pads in fear of that judgmental glance from the cashier. We worry about having a leak in public, wrapping a sweater around our waists to hide the evidence on our jeans. This stigma is why we, as a society, have so many euphemisms for our periods, such as “Aunt Flo,” “Mother Nature’s monthly gift” and “Lady Time.” This campaign sends the message that leaking—and to an extent, menstruation—is something to hide, to fear.

Perhaps Always began this campaign with good intentions. After all, if women aren’t happy with their feminine hygiene products, they should consider switching to another size. But ultimately, it’s up to each individual woman to choose what’s right for her. It’s not up to a corporation to suggest what’s right for women’s bodies.

I began at Her Campus USF as a writer in Spring 2017. Then, served as Senior Editor in Fall 2017 and currently serve as the Editor-in-Chief. I am passionate about writing, social media, and graphic design. I am a portrait photographer and a self-proclaimed makeup junkie. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @cc_red13 to connect!