Talking About the Things Nobody Wants to Talk AboutPublished: 2019-07-01 11:20
This month I’ve been mostly trying to get people talking about the things that nobody wants to talk about. At Essity, this happens with surprising regularity.
In our world, the things that nobody wants to talk about tend to come in two forms – Menstruation and incontinence.
Fortunately, thanks to some amazing marketing work by our Bodyform team, the taboo surrounding menstruation is finally starting to be broken down with more and more people talking about it more comfortably, and even celebrating it as part of everyday life. And yet there is still a lot more to be done when you consider the stigmas that exist outside of the UK, and the impact that period poverty has on the lives of many thousands of people in the UK.
But we are committed to the cause and it was really pleasing to see some of the work to break down the menstruation taboo being awarded for its originality and bravery at the 2019 Cannes Lions.
Unfortunately, getting people to speak openly about incontinence remains a challenge and that was highlighted this month as part of our ongoing School Hygiene Essentials Initiative. New research tells us that around 900,000 children in the UK experience bladder and bowel problems at school and while it remains a taboo subject, these children won’t get the help and support they need.
The research tells us that 30% of these children have had to take time off school because of their condition, with 25% saying they often struggle to concentrate in class, and 27% saying their school does not understand their condition. These are young children who need someone to understand what they are going through and help them.
Worryingly, when we put these research findings out to the media, it quickly became clear that our newspapers and news programmes are reinforcing the taboo around incontinence. No journalist wanted to write about it and help bring these worrying statistics to the nations’ attention. Why? Because (we were told) your average person doesn’t want to read about incontinence while eating their cornflakes.
So where do we go from here? Fortunately, we have some really supportive partnerships with ERIC, the children’s bladder and bowel charity, and the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF). We are working with ERIC to make resources available to schools, and we are supporting the PCF in putting this issue on the government’s agenda. We won’t give up talking about it even if nobody else wants to.