Japanese Store’s Menstruation Badges Received Backlash
You might have read about the backlash surrounding menstruation badges for staff in a Daimaru Umeda store in Osaka.
The badges feature a cute pink-coloured manga character, Seiri-Chan. “Seiri” is the Japanese word for period. “Chan” is a casual title usually referring to a child or a close friend.
Twitter users hit back
Japanese users replied to WWD Japan’s post about this story via Twitter. Here are some selected comments with a loose translation:
“I think they are crazy.”
“I can’t understand this. I’m glad I don’t work there. Poor Daimaru staff…”
“I feel that it is meant to promote the cartoon character than to inform others about the staff’s periods.”
Store meant to be a ‘fem-tech’ store
Due to the way social media goes, many might have missed the context of how these badges came to be.
Staff members are given the option of wearing the badges, which are tied to the opening of MICHIKAKE, an experimental shop focusing on female health, within Daimaru Umeda department store. The shop was launched in line with an app, Luna Luna, which helps female users track their periods.
Besides adult toys, some of MICHIKAKE’s products are designed to cater to women during different phases of their period. Namely, Gloomy period (pre-menstruation), Blue period (menstruation), Sparkling period (post-menstruation) and Turbulent period (unstable period)—although it is uncertain what the “unstable period” refers to.
Some of these menstruation-focused products include herbal teas, Chinese medicine, supplements, cosmetics and bedding. Based on photos, the mascot Seiri-Chan also appears imprinted on tote bags and pouches.
The shop also features an art installation inspired by menstruation products in line with its branding.
Menstruation a taboo topic in Japan
Like most Asian countries, menstruation is still a taboo topic in Japan. A store like this, containing unabashed displays of menstruation and its related products, could be the first step in revolutionising how menstruation is spoken about in public spaces and forums.
After all, most women experience menstruation, and being more open about it can lead to increased levels of understanding from all genders.
Ironically, it is mostly the taboo and assumptions about a woman’s period, which is what MICHIKAKE’s concept is trying to address, that created a backlash.
Menstruation Badges And Concept Store Could Open Up An Honest Dialogue About Menstruation
The store is currently reconsidering this move that garnered quite a bit of publicity—although not the type they desired.
Daimaru spokeswoman Yoko Higuchi explained to the BBC that while some staff expressed reluctance to wear the badges, “others were positive.”
She elaborated, “If you saw a colleague was having her period, you could offer to carry heavy things for her, or suggest she takes longer breaks, and this support would be mutual.”
She added that some customers have called in to show support despite the social media backlash.
Talking about taboo topics often incites a knee-jerk reaction. But if we are not willing to have uncomfortable conversations about them, society will not progress beyond the status quo.
Cover image: Source