Pantone’s newest shade, “Period”

Do you ever stop to consider all the uterus-bearing bodies around you, and how at any given time they might be delaminating? I do, I think about it all the time, because my personal uterus has been tearing down the wallpaper on the monthly for almost 30 years now. Can you imagine? Either you don’t have to because it happens to you too, or you never have because you get the biological option of not thinking about it. How fun that must be for you!

Well, party’s over, ignorer of periods, because that zeitgeist-defining arbiter of culture, Pantone, has just introduced “Period” — a shade of red intended to “break down the stigma surrounding menstruation.” As a person who counts it as part of my life’s work to act like the regular biological functioning of my body is an okay thing that happens, I’m all for it!

The hue is a collaboration between Pantone and INTIMINA, a Swedish-based brand that offers a range of products dedicated to intimate and menstrual health, as part of their Seen + Heard campaign. They’ve got menstrual cups! They’ve got pelvic floor exercisers so your vagina can beat people up! They’ve got an accessory cleaner — for cleaning your equipment, not your genitals — which smell just fine! According to the website, “the goal of the Seen + Heard campaign is to break down the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation, to enable everyone, regardless of gender and generation to feel comfortable to talk freely and proudly about this natural bodily function.”

In that spirit, I have a few critiques about this “energizing and dynamic warm red shade” meant to emblematize a bodily process with which I am intimately acquainted. First of all, I’m concerned that the paint is slightly too homogenous. To really get the conversation flowing appropriately, there should be occasional odd chunks. Secondly, while I appreciate the direct approach, calling it “Period” feels a little on the nose, and I wonder if we could have gotten something more playful. My suggestions include “Aunt Flo,” “Shark Week,” and “I Brought You Into This World, and I Can Take You Out of It.” Finally, it seems reductionist to champion only a single shade for this experience, which most uterus-bearing folks can tell you deserves a whole range of colors, from “Rusty Bucket” to “Heliotrope,” to that old classic, “Oh Shit, Denise. Do You Have a Tampon? Fuck.”

But these are small quibbles, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some so I can paint the walls! It’s the perfect thing for she-sheds (because SHE SHEDS HER UTERINE LINING, AMIRITE?), on-trend menstrual huts, or even for smearing as a warning above the threshold to let visitors know — Old Testament-style — to pass this house over unless you want to confront that most taboo of creatures: the menstruating person.

IT IS OUR TIME, fellow menstruators! Let us be SEEN and HEARD. I am just going to take a couple Midol and I will meet you in the streets to paint the town red!

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....