There is a store in Osaka, Japan, called Michi Kake, whose specialty is selling sexual health and menstrual products for people who have a menstrual cycle. A new policy was implemented in October that allowed any employee who was on their period to wear a badge of a character known a Seiri-chan or Miss Period.
大丸梅田店のミチカケ プレオープンイベントに来ています。 生理ちゃんグッズも売ってる！ pic.twitter.com/yH3vvwuhey
— 手芸センターポリス (@porisu_pori) November 21, 2019
The BBC reports that the company said it was intended as a way to break down the stigma around periods and also allow folks to notify their co-workers that they might need help or longer breaks during that time of the month.
However, the policy has created a bit of an uproar online. Though the policy wasn’t compulsory, the Independent is now saying the company is reconsidering the policy, as some have complained it would mean signaling their condition to customers as well—after all, there’s no way the wouldn’t see the badge.
— WWD JAPAN (@wwd_jp) November 22, 2019
Ladbible reports that a store manager named Takahiro Imazu told WWD that the policy was also intended as a way to help reduce stigma around periods, saying, “In Japan, there is a tendency for women’s sexuality and periods to be subjects ‘not to be mentioned.'”
“Not all customers will react positively to [this shop], but the fem tech boom is growing, and the values of young people are changing with it,” Imazu continued. “I might be going a little far in saying this, but I am excited for it to become a shop for solutions for women’s sensitive needs, and to be an asset to the marketplace.”
While some folks on Twitter seem to find the idea of battling stigma a positive thing, it’s a bit awkward to ask employees to participate. While they might not feel officially obligated to share such personal info, it’s hard to work at a company that’s all about menstruation and not feel like you must or risk annoying your superiors:
Japan is copping a beating for the Daimaru female employee's idea of women wearing a badge indicating they're on their period, but at least it's addressing the stigma of menstruation. Governments and major corporations here offer women period leave. What's wrong with that?
— KangaeRoo (@Kangae_Roo) November 29, 2019
in order to get rid of period stigma, a store in japan wants its employees to start wearing a 'period badge' whenever they're bleeding…….. would you wear a period badge? 😬😬
— ohne (@im_OHNE) November 27, 2019
It’s difficult to say what the best thing to do is here, but maybe the company can start by asking employees what they want to commit to before handing out the Miss Period badges.