It's a sad testimony of our times and the world we live in that even in 2018, a bunch of influential people from Bollywood have to come together to tell the world that periods are normal, not weird or embarrassing, and nothing to be ashamed of. But hey, if 2018 is the year when so many among us finally stop looking at pads with the fear one must only reserve for radioactive waste, or a paper that holds the country's nuclear codes, we're all for it.
Yesterday, while promoting her film PadMan, producer Twinkle Khanna, and Arunachalam Muruganantham (the genius on whose life the film is based on) enlisted the combined power of Bollywood and social media to help normalise the biological inevitability that is menstruation.
Holding up a pad in their hands, Muruganantham and Twinkle challenged a host of Bollywood stars to post photos of themselves holding a sanitary napkin with the caption: "Yes that's a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period."
It's a lot like the stupendously successful ALS ice bucket challenge of 2014, minus the shivers and chills.
And boy, did Bollywood rise to the "challenge". From the film's stars - Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte - to supporters like Alia Bhatt, Aamir Khan, Shabana Azmi, and a host of others started posting photographs holding pads on social media.
Just hanging around in the gym.. with a pad :) no biggie! Thank you @akshaykumar for the challenge.. I shall challenge my fellow gym-ers @YasminBodyImage@Sophie_Choudry & @impoornapatel#PadManChallengepic.twitter.com/xHLaSwt39Q— Alia Bhatt (@aliaa08) February 2, 2018
Thank you @mrsfunnybones— Aamir Khan (@aamir_khan) February 2, 2018
Yes, that’s a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period. #PadManChallenge. Copy, Paste this & Challenge your friends to take a photo with a Pad. Here I am Challenging @SrBachchan , @iamsrk & @BeingSalmanKhanpic.twitter.com/lY7DEevDmD
Challenge accepted & done @aliaa08 .. Hanging out in the gym with my girls & some pads..No big deal. Period🙌🏼 Now challenging @bipsluvurself@humasqureshi@MasabaG#PadManChallenge@akshaykumarpic.twitter.com/ITGZALKZza— Sophie Choudry (@Sophie_Choudry) February 3, 2018
Thank you for tagging me @mrsfunnybones— Harsh Goenka (@hvgoenka) February 2, 2018
Yes, that’s a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed. It's natural! Period. #PadManChallenge
Copy, Paste this & Challenge your friends to take a photo with a Pad!
Here I am Challenging @hcmariwala@punitgoenka@RonnieScrewvalapic.twitter.com/dnd9N1R3wk
Taking a cue from Bollywood, social media was soon flooded with photographs of people holding up individual pads and even entire packets of sanitary napkins. It was heartening to see so many men participating in the challenge so wholeheartedly.
Women Strong ....Then Country Strong !!!!— RAJASTHAN AKKIANS (@vimal_akki) February 3, 2018
When you Empower a Women, you Empower a Family.
When you Empower a Family, You Empower the Whole Nation!
Everyone Joining #PadManChallenge@akshaykumar@PadManTheFilm@AkkiFansClub@Akkistaanpic.twitter.com/aganZgxwEg
Some even came out with some powerful stories and messages, reminding us why campaigns like these have an important role to play.
Bought these without newspaper/black paper bag. A group of men were starring at me while I was carrying this in my hand, but never mind I clicked a photo rather! Thanku @mrsfunnybones@akshaykumar@sonamakapoor@radhika_apte@PadManTheFilm for this confidence. #PadManChallengepic.twitter.com/853EZXWMPg— Karishma Asoodani (@tweettokarishma) February 2, 2018
Flaunting my dioxin free,bleach free,organic cotton reusable cloth pads. #padmanchallengeComments — Tulika Srivastava (@PhilomelaTulika) February 2, 2018
Periods are not gross.And,washing your cloth pad is completely Hygienic.Make switch towards healthy& #sustainablemenstruation by using biodegradable disposable/cloth pads.#nodioxinpic.twitter.com/KYIy7v7BJI
If this "challenge" helps sanitary napkins and menstruation come out of the ridiculous and wholly unnecessary shadows of shame and be treated like any other common hygiene product, we're all for it. We wonder which celebrity will join the PadMan challenge bandwagon next.