Nisha Ganatra's #wombstories Launches by Libresse as Follow-Up to Viva La Vulva

Stop Giving Women’s Health the Silent Treatment.

Libresse 2020 campaign #wombstories, Directed by Nisha Ganatra and Produced by Chelsea Pictures, gives a voice to the unseen, unspoken, and unknown truths about our periods, our vulvas, and our wombs.

Chelsea Pictures’s Nisha Ganatra directs #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse’s boldest campaign to date, confronts a damaging, detrimental narrative that women live with every day; one which dictates what they should – and shouldn’t – feel about their bodies.

Essity, the leading global hygiene and health company and owner of Bodyform & Libresse is committed to dismantling the taboos that hold women back and creating a more understanding world. With the award-winning #BloodNormal campaign in 2017, Bodyform & Libresse tackled the stigma around periods in advertising; turning blue liquid red and showing period blood as it really is. With Viva La Vulva in 2018, singing vulvas called out the myth of the perfect vulva.

With #wombstories, Libresse confronts the single and simplistic narrative girls are taught from a young age: start your period in adolescence, repeat for 30 years with “a bit” of pain, want a baby, have a baby, stop periods, fade into the menopausal background.

The reality of course, is much messier, but societal standards don't encourage women to talk openly about the highs and lows of their intimate health. A new research study of women and men by Bodyform & Libresse found that two-thirds of women who experience miscarriage, endometriosis, fertility issues, and menopause say that being open with family and friends helped them cope.

Yet the same study found that half of women feel society doesn’t want them to be open with their loved ones, and that half of women felt that staying silent affected their mental health. This purposeful ignorance leads to a cycle of silence in our society where women feel they cannot speak openly about common and not-so-common health issues. The physical concern may be treated, but the emotional dimension is often left unheard and overlooked.

For #wombstories, Bodyform & Libresse worked with Golden Globe winning and Emmy-nominated Director, Writer, and Producer, Nisha Ganatra of Chelsea Pictures, along with a predominantly female crew and an all-women team of Animators and Illustrators who imagined the lives of wombs.

See the burning-down apartment of a perimenopausal woman, a monster gnawing at the uterus of someone suffering from endometriosis, a sneeze causing a “floodgate” period catastrophe, to the woman who chose not to have children and the arduous journey of trying to conceive. These few womb stories chronicle the sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal, human side of the biology and physiology they experience every day. And while only a handful of stories are shown, they represent the billions of complex experiences that women share in silence.

Golden Globe winning and Emmy-nominated Director, Writer, and Producer Nisha Ganatra illustrates, “When they’re at their best, our bodies are incredible machines that give us pleasure, and, if we want them to, help us propagate the human race. But they don’t always work. Hell, they don’t often work. Irregular periods. Endometriosis. Miscarriages and infertility. Our bodies can bring joy but also pain and devastation. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that lasts a lifetime.”

#wombstories encourages open conversation amongst us all so that no one has to hide the complex and intricate realities of their bodies.
Continuing to speak of her film, Chelsea Pictures Director, Nisha Ganatra reveals, “I feel particularly drawn to this project. The work I feel most passionate about is the work that meaningfully resists outmoded social norms that no longer fit the cultural moment but persist, nonetheless. When my daughter is an adult, it shouldn’t just be acceptable for a woman to have ownership over her body and over her narrative. It shouldn’t just be acceptable for people to be who they want and to love who they want and to choose not to have children if they want. This should be the norm.

Imagining the uterus as its own little universe, sometimes working in our favour, sometimes working against us in stories of strength, vulnerability, exultation, devastation, mundanity and pleasure makes this film a truth teller in all its messy complexity.”

Nadja Lossgott, Executive Creative Director of AMV BBDO and Art Director on the campaign elaborates, “Periods don’t just exist in isolation. They are connected to this entire ecosystem centered around our wombs, which almost acts as a second seat of power that rules us in such profound ways. We have this intensely complicated relationship with it. And yet this life-long bittersweet journey with our bodies is still considered something to shut up about. By visualising and anthropomorphising our wombs, we can begin to open up an emotional and human way to express these often complicated, contradictory feelings of love and hate, of pain and pleasure, of the mundane and the profound we constantly deal with.”

With #wombstories, Libresse wants to encourage a candid culture where everyone can express what they go through without fearing or persecution and without feeling shame that they are somehow less than what they were taught to be. The pleasure, the pain, the love, the hate. It’s never simple but it all needs to be heard. Keeping it in or allowing oneself to be ignored comes at an emotional and physical cost both to the individual and broader collective.

FemCare Global Marketing & Communications Director at Essity, Tanja Grubner, comments, “Although this campaign was conceived long before the pandemic changed everything, the issues women face didn’t just get put on hold or go away because of what was going on around us. In many instances, Covid-19 has increased the isolation women feel and the complexities they experience. The pandemic has seen women forced to give birth alone, have their fertility treatments and endometriosis surgeries delayed and postponed. Now more than ever is a time to ensure women speak up about their bodies and experiences.”

To watch #wombstories, click here.