Popular sanitary napkin brand Always announced this week that it will be removing the Venus symbol, which has historically been used to represent females, from its pad packaging in order to be more inclusive of all menstruating people.
“For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” Proctor and Gamble, the consumer goods behemoth which owns Always, said in a statement of the change. “We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers.”
LGBTQ activists, including Ben Saunders, a transgender filmmaker who was named the 2019 young campaigner of the year by UK charity Stonewall, had urged Always to ditch the Venus symbol emblazoned on some of its pad wrappers so as to not alienate transgender and gender-nonconforming customers who menstruate.
A P&G spokesperson told CBS News this week that it had taken customer feedback into account in its decision to alter its packaging.
“We routinely assess our products, packaging, and designs,” the spokesperson said. “We take into account a broad array of factors, including feedback from consumers, to ensure we are meeting the needs of everyone who uses our products. The change to our pad wrapper design is consistent with that practice.”
Saunders said in a recent tweet that P&G had sent him an email sharing news of the packaging redesign.
“We listened to you and our marketing team worked [up] a solution!” read the email, which P&G confirmed to Snopes.com was authentic. “We are absolutely grateful for having people like you voicing their opinions.”
The company said the new wrapper design would be rolled out starting in December, but would be “adapted by multiple markets at various dates.”
In the wake of P&G’s announcement, some critics on social media have blasted the company for caving into the demands of “crazy liberals” and for attempting to “eliminate” and “erase women.” Some have even called for a boycott of the Always brand.
Others, however, have lauded the company for embracing diversity.
Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News that P&G’s decision to remove the “unnecessary” symbol sends a message to transgender and non-binary people that the company “accepts, respects, and cares about this population, which is a powerful statement for a community that is so often marginalized and rejected.”
Steph deNormand, manager of Fenway Health’s trans health program, agreed.
“For folks using these products on a nearly monthly basis, it can be harmful and distressing to see binary/gendered images, coding, language and symbols. So, using less coded products can make a huge difference,” deNormand told NBC. “Trans and nonbinary folks are constantly misgendered, and a gesture like this can broaden out the experiences and open up spaces for those who need the products.”