For years, feminine care brands have dealt with normal bodily functions in overly hushed tones. If the majority of their adverts are to be believed, women on their periods love nothing more than frolicking along the beach in white bikinis. Others brands prefer to deal in euphemisms, swapping out all the ‘gory’ details of menstruation for more sanitary-looking blue liquids instead.
It’s an approach that is closely intertwined with society’s complex relationship with women’s bodies as a whole, which historically has seen women either overtly sexualised, or shamed just for being themselves. And as a result, it has left little space for positive representations of periods, vulvas, or anything else remotely related to the female anatomy.
But health and hygiene company Essity’s femcare brand Libresse (or Bodyform as it’s known in the UK) has made it its mission to break down the taboos around women’s bodies in recent years. At the forefront of this mission is Tanja Grubner, who has worked at Essity for the past 15 years, and as Libresse’s global marketing and communications director for six of those. In that time, Libresse has become the fastest-growing femcare brand in the world; it is currently the fifth-largest company globally and is fast-approaching fourth.