Breaking down intimate health barriers with ‘The Truth, Undressed’
Canesten, our intimate health brand expert, has launched a new UK iteration of the ‘Vagina Academy’ - its global brand social purpose platform as part of our wider sustainability goals to help set people free from shame and discomfort
Recent research* revealed only 6% of UK women (aged 16-55) found out about intimate health conditions through school and university education and just under two thirds (60%) only found out about vaginal infections when they first experienced them.
Launching today, ‘The Truth, Undressed’, is our ground-breaking education-at-scale programme showcasing the truth about vulval and vaginal anatomy and health. We have collaborated with the PSHE Association, a national curriculum body, to present teachers with comprehensive lesson plans that teach 11–18 year-olds about vulval and vaginal health.
The new lesson plans include an accurate, diverse, and non-sexualised portrayal of vulvas, pubic hair and true-to-life depictions of vaginal discharge intended to break down stereotypes and stigma and free people from shame and discomfort. Teachers can choose lesson plan versions with either photographs, realistic illustrations, or without imagery. Teacher guidance on whether and how to use these resources is also provided.
Liz Laming, The PSHE Association says: “The lesson plans will support schools to teach this important health topic effectively and appropriately. Until now, it has been difficult for young people to learn the facts about their bodies and understand vulval and vaginal anatomy and health when historically the vast majority of images of vulvas represented in porn and other forms of media and popular culture have been both over-sexualised and depicting a societally ‘perfect’ body which is not representative of reality.”
In addition to the educational material, we have created a dedicated educational microsite, www.truthundressed.co.uk, which contains informative editorial articles, photography and illustrations of vulvas and vaginal discharge that allows young people to access reliable, trustworthy and affirming knowledge about intimate health. It also features members of the public giving real descriptions of their bodies and experiences, to reassure and inform readers of the variety of experiences that owning a vagina brings.
Daria Costantini, Brand Lead for Canesten, Bayer Consumer Health UK said: “The truth of the female anatomy is dressed up in a societal culture of sex and defined as explicit by default. We live in a world where porn is readily available on the internet, yet many young people don’t know the first thing about what kinds of infections there are or even what the vulva is supposed to look like.
“We hope that through this programme we can start to move imagery of real vulvas away from a sexualised depiction and into an informative, educational space to equip young people with the essential information they need to better understand their bodies as well as normalise conversations.”
We will be promoting the Truth Undressed via Instagram and Tik Tok videos to engage with our target audience. On TikTok, the video ads show what can happen when people can’t find answers to their questions, or worse still, harmful misinformation. On Instagram, the ads use common visual metaphors for vaginas, vulvas and pubic hair to drive home the ways that nothing compares to reality when you’re trying to learn.
Under our Canesten consumer health brand, we are continuing our mission to break down the social taboos when it comes to intimate health. Today’s launch is a giant leap forward in our mission as we provide teachers with the tools and resources to teach young people in their existing educational environment, helping the next generation understand the importance of knowing their bodies and, importantly, that it is good to talk about it.
*Survey of 1,000 UK women (aged 18-24) – ‘Different Is Normal’ research by Canesten and sexual health charity Brook, conducted by 3GEM October 2020