Video: Furor over Carefree underwear liner ad that said 'vagina'

Posted Jul 16, 2012 by JohnThomas Didymus
The Australian Adverstising Standards Bureau (ASB) says it received complaints about an ad for Acti-Fresh underwear liners almost as soon as the ad was launched on July 15. The ad shows a "naked" young woman who dared mention the word "vagina."
 Naked  woman in Carefree
'Naked' woman in Carefree
Stuff reports that the Carefree ad features a naked woman covered in flower, saying: "Even that bit of discharge in between our period is our body working to keep the vagina healthy."
According to Stuff, use of the word "vagina" in the ad is thought to be first time in a New Zealand ad.
Ninemsn reports that ASB said they have received five complaints about the ad. The maker of Carefree products, Johnson and Johnson Pacific, has been forced to defend use of the "taboo" word in the ad.
A spokeswoman of the company that produces Carefree Acti-Fresh liners Debbie Selikman, says the company wants to confront the taboo associated with the word. She explained that the company wants to encourage people to use the correct term. In short, people don't have to blush when they hear the word "vagina."
She said in a statement: "It’s the first time a major brand has had the guts to use real words, not euphemisms or diminutive terms."
Selikman, also the editor of, said Carefree did a research that found that most women would like to see ads that refer to their anatomy using the proper words. According to Selikman, other names for vagina have negative connotations that imply women should be ashamed of their bodies.
Stop Press reports that Michelle Forster, Women's Health Manager at Johnson & Johnson Pacific that owns Carefree, said" “We have found that many women are bothered by discharge yet do not know a lot about it, or how to manage it. While Carefree acti-fresh liners offer a simple solution for this perfectly normal issue, the number of women using liners between their periods is significantly lower in New Zealand than in countries such as Germany and the USA. We have decided to take a bold approach in this campaign with the aim to tackle a subject which has always been taboo. We want to encourage women to talk openly about their bodies, educating them both on discharge and the benefits of using Carefree acti-fresh liners on a daily basis.”
Stuff reports that a Wellington beauty writer Joanna Hubris, said she was frustrated when people use such evasive terms as "down there." She said: "As part of owning your body, you need to feel comfortable using words to describe it. A vagina is nothing to be ashamed of, and something we should talk about."
Stuff notes that use of certain words such as "penis," and "vagina" sometimes generates unnecessary controversy and ads often go to extreme lengths to avoid saying the "taboo words." A British ad for a feminine hygiene product FemFresh, used such terms as "lala," "froo froo," "kitty," "va jay jay" and "hoo-haa" instead of simply "vulva" or "vagina." Similarly, an American advert showed a woman on her daily routine with a friendly beaver. "Beaver" is a slang term for the female genitalia.
Digital Journal reported that recently, a Michigan lawmaker was blocked because of the remark she made while speaking against a controversial bill that would restrict abortions. While speaking on the floor of the Michigan state legislature, she said: "Finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"