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Pantone launches a Period colour (and people are seeing red)

Colour authority Pantone isn't shy about using its colour matching system to highlight social issues and stigmas – and a bold new colour is designed to do exactly that. Made to encourage people to speak more openly about menstruating, the new colour is an original shade of red, simply titled Period.

Launched in collaboration with Swedish menstruation products brand Intimina, the "active and adventurous red hue" is intended to embolden people who menstruate "to feel proud of who they are". (Check out our colour theory guide if you're looking for more shades of inspiration.) 

Made to front Intimina's Seen+Heard campaign, which encourages more accurate conversations around menstruation, the colour is supposed to be "emblematic of a steady flow during menstruation". Intimina has also donated £2,000 to ActionAid, an international charity working with women and girls living in poverty.

"We were very honoured to partner with Intimina on the creation of Period, a confident red shade," says Pantone's Vice-President Laurie Pressman. She adds that the colour is meant to empower those who menstruate "to own their period with self-assurance; to stand up and passionately celebrate the exciting and powerful life force they are born with".

We can't fault the intention behind the campaign – creating an official Pantone colour for periods is an admirable way of normalising menstruation and opening up conversation around it. But we're unsure about the execution of the colour itself – and it seems we're not alone.

If Intimina and Pantone are looking to encourage more accurate conversations, wouldn't a more accurate colour have helped? There's a distinctly 'ketchup' vibe to 'Period' (now there's a sentence), which, as the above tweets and many more argue, isn't exactly representative of menstruation in real life. And if the "active and adventurous" colour is indeed a deliberately sanitised shade of red, does that not undermine the whole "empowering" message? We can't help but think a variation of Pantone's existing Blood Red shade (below) could have been more appropriate. 

Pantone Blood Red

Would this have been more appropriate? (Image credit: Pantone)

It's been a busy year for Pantone, from its recent 'Ultra-Black' collaboration with Nas, and the release of its new real-life Color Match Card. Time will tell what shade the company chooses for its 2021 Colour of the Year – unfortunately, the "calm, dependable and stable" Classic Blue didn't quite turn out to be the most appropriate choice for 2020. 

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