A woman took to social media to share her disappointment at a discovery she made while shopping at her local Woolworths, with her post sparking a major debate among shoppers.
Customer Halia posted to Facebook saying she was disappointed to see the aisle at the Wodonga Woolworths store where the tampons and pads area was labelled “feminine hygiene” rather than “period care”, like many other stores.
In February this year, the supermarket giant announced that it was rebranding its feminine hygiene section to “period care” in a national effort to beat the stigma surrounding periods.
The move came after Woolworths said it had a responsibility to make the change to help tackle “embarrassment around periods”.
The supermarket said the change would be rolled out to all stores over the coming months, but Halia was disappointed to see it had yet to be introduced in her local store.
“I remember reading in the paper, in February this year, that Woolworths was going to replace aisle signage and shelf signage from feminine hygiene to period care,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I support this move wholeheartedly as a means to destigmatise periods. How come my local Woolworths still has the old signage?”
The initiative was met with praise from many when it was announced earlier this year, but it appears some people aren’t as impressed with the change, with Halia’s post sparking renewed debate.
Shopper Christine commented on the post calling the change “ridiculous” and claiming the term feminine hygiene was more appropriate.
But Halia didn’t back down, pointing out the majority of women surveyed in Australia support the change.
Christie claimed the phrase “period care” was “discriminatory” to older women.
“That’s discriminatory. Feminine hygiene products are also purchased by people who no longer have periods,” she said.
“So they’re not just period hygiene … that includes incontinence products etc that older women who (no) longer have periods use.”
Halia agreed, saying there was no shame in both having periods or experiencing incontinence and that using the appropriate terms was a “major step in removing the stigma associated with both”.
“Hiding them behind the term feminine hygiene continues a social narrative which infers both periods and incontinence are unhygienic, and therefore dirty … they are not,” she said.
It is understood that Woolworths have also begun introducing “continence care” signage to its stores.
However, Christie wasn’t happy with this response, saying she wants Woolworths to keep the “feminine hygiene” signage before adding, “Who the hell shames periods?”.
At this point Halia decided to step back from the argument.
“I have offered an objective (facts based) argument, you are offering a subjective (personal feelings) opinion,” she said.
“Feminine Hygiene is an outdated term and things change to reflect current modern thinking.”
But it seems Christine isn’t the only person who has taken issue with the change, with another shopper Robyn posting to Woolworth’s Facebook page to say she was “shocked” by the change to “period care” on the aisle signs.
“I’m really shocked it’s even there, thought it used to say personal care, think it’s just too much information. Personal care just generalises many personal items such as condoms, tampons, pads, haemorrhoid creams etc. Why can’t it just say personal care?” she wrote.
“Why can’t this just be generalised to include all personal items. I think its highly inappropriate and embarrassing for some to pinpoint just one feminine product in this sign. Why not put haemorrhoid cream instead then if you want to pinpoint a bloody item!”
Despite not everyone agreeing, earlier this year Woolworths managing director Natalie Davis said the supermarket was “excited” to roll out the change in all stores in Australia in the months ahead.
“Many of us still tread around using the word period as if it’s inappropriate or something to be ashamed of. The truth is periods are a very natural part of life,” she told news.com.au.
“This is a change we can make today that will help debunk the stigma of calling a period what it is and will help many young women grow up feeling less shame or embarrassment, so we’re excited to introduce this in Australia.”
The move was trialled in New Zealand at its Countdown stores last year where it received huge praise among shoppers who supported the change in its aisles.
Ms Davis said response in New Zealand with shoppers was “remarkable” – especially among young women and parents – and is hoping to have a similar effect in Australia.
“Young women are especially passionate about reclaiming the word and calling periods what they are,” she said.
“Our research shows that Australians agree there is still a stigma around the word ‘period’.
“As Australia’s largest retailer, we feel a responsibility to make a simple change, that can help remove some of the embarrassment around periods.”