Fitness and health 28.10.2016 08:45 am

SA launches world’s first Vagina Varsity

Planner: Kerry Hibberd

Planner: Kerry Hibberd

The Vagina Varsity course gets people comfortable about not just saying the V-word, but dispelling all the myths that surround it.

It’s high time brands loosen up on enforcing the status quo with their “blue liquid demonstrations” and consumers stop refusing to talk about femcare on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s really taboo to talk about anything related to vaginas and to even say the V-word out loud.

The result is that women neglect to learn about everyday vaginal care and this results in embarrassment, shame, myths and even healthcare problems that women then feel too shy to discuss with anyone. So the world’s first Vagina Varsity was launched yesterday, where women, young and old, can learn about their bodies in a private, safe setting, guided by professionals.

The Vagina Varsity course is a mix of short video content and extra bonus material in email format, covering everything from anatomy to discharge, contraception and when to see a doctor.

Psychosexual consultant Avri Spilka provided all the educational material used in the campaign, the quirky Anne Hirsch scripted and directed all the video content, and YouTube sensation Pap Culture added some “real talk”.

“As a brand we were asking people to live fearless but we needed to act fearless first. We’ve made inroads at school level with talks delivered to young girls about period care but we wanted to do something bigger; start a movement,” said marketing manager of Libresse sanitaryware, Denese Pillay.

“This campaign will push boundaries and upset the status quo. Our aim is to empower and educate women of all ages. So next year we will be taking this course into schools and supplementing the information with product. We’re committing to spending R500 000 in the first quarter of 2017 to help keep girls in school,” she said.

Talking about your vagina, and even saying vagina, is still embarrassing for millions of women in South Africa and around the world. But that doesn’t mean women aren’t interested in that part of their anatomy.

“The most visited pages on our website are the FAQ pages. And in consumer research groups, the women all start out shy when we introduce vaginal care topics but once they realise they are in a safe space, you can’t stop them. The same is true for our school talks. Women of all ages want the information we have, they just don’t want it on traditional channels in old-fashioned ways,” said strategic planner at Net#work BBDO, Kerry Hibberd.

“Most women only knew what was once told to them by their mother, sister or friend at school. We don’t want to replace those conversations; we want to spark, inform and enrich them.”

The Libresse approach has been welcomed by academics and healthcare professionals. Dr Mpume Simelane, a gynaecologist based at Leratong Hospital, says: “The Libresse approach is on point, the audience is ready for a bold campaign like this. This campaign answers the questions women and girls are asking in a trusted, honest fashion.”

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