Furious debate over Woolworths’ ‘period aisle’ change

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

A heated debate has erupted following Woolworths' move to modernise the name of its aisle containing hygiene products for people who menstruate.

The supermarket announced this week the aisle historically advertised to contain "Feminine Hygiene" would be renamed nationwide as "Period Care".

Renaming the aisle was motivated by a desire to help destigmatise periods, which Woolworths Managing Director Natalie Davis argued had long been treated as a source of shame and embarrassment.

“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 said.

“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 outside of a Woolworths store.
Debate has raged over Woolworths' decision to rename its aisle containing period products. Source: Getty Images

While the response to the change was widely well received, a section of the community have expressed why they won't be supporting it, with one woman labelling it "absolutely stupid".

"I think it is absolutely stupid for the products in the feminine hygiene area to now be called period care ... You do know of course that not all women still get their period. Older women use liners and incontinence pants. Being a menopausal woman I will get my products elsewhere," she wrote to Facebook on Thursday.

Another woman who claimed to be younger said she too disagreed with the aisle being renamed, arguing Woolworths was being discriminative to people who used the items for reasons other than their period.

"In that aisle they don't just sell period products but incontinence products as well, not to mention that the period pads are also used by many women as a protection against urine and sweat, therefore the sign 'period care' is discriminative towards other use of those items," she wrote.

Several people hit back at the naysayers, endorsing the supermarket's bold move in an effort to desensitise an often sensitive topic.

"This is an excellent move! They are period products, why try to desensitise that by referring to them as something they're not?" one wrote in a comment.

"Feminine hygiene was the 'lets not talk about periods lads' way to say it," another added, saying the former terminology was "so cold and hostile".

New name will 'break down insecurities'

Someone else said the new description was a "good step" towards breaking down the insecurities of people who get periods.

"I think it will break down insecurities by being able to call it by what it is (period/menstrual cycle) then hide behind something like feminine hygiene ... Also not everyone who uses these products, identifies as female," she wrote.

Sanitary products are seen in the Woolworths period care aisle.
Some shoppers don't agree with the new name given to products formerly described as Feminine Hygiene. Source: Woolworths

She acknowledged the term did exclude people who used products for incontinence and suggested Woolworths consider calling the aisle "period/incontinent products".

Others couldn't understand why such a fuss was being made over the seemingly insignificant detail.

"I don't think the name change matters either way," one said.

"Does it really matter in the scheme of things?" another questioned.

A Woolworths employee responded to the debate saying the different views expressed on the topic were "perfectly OK".

"The products themselves have not changed – we’re simply just removing the negative connotation surrounding the category that makes periods sound unnatural," they wrote in a comment.

A spokesperson clarified with Yahoo News Australia that separate shelves in the aisle would be labelled Period Care and Continence Care respective of the products they contained.

They said wording on the banner at the entrance to the aisle could vary with each store.

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