Let's make one thing clear: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a real, if loosely-defined and often-confusing, thing, but that doesn't mean it's a catch-all excuse for everything that goes down in women's bodies during the menstrual cycle. Yet, of course, the myth that PMS makes you volatile remains. Now U by Kotex is taking on this stigma in its latest ad, above. The #ItsNotMyPeriod campaign challenges people to try to pinpoint whether or not women are on their periods, solely based on their behavior. The ad follows a group of men and women as they react to a skit, in which one woman acts dramatically and responds to her coworkers with anger and frustration. The viewers are asked to identify who they believe is on their period, and all of them point out this one performer, calling her bossy and bitchy, among other things. (It's honestly hard to watch this go down so predictably.) If that moment makes you squirm, you're not alone. It's nothing new to say that women in general too often get stuck with labels like "irrational," "short-tempered," and the oh-so vague "emotional." And the "oh, she must be on the rag" excuse is just that much more infuriating. Then, in what you might call a twist, the viewers of the skit are asked whom they perceive to be the group's leader and with whom they'd personally prefer to work. Their answers remain the same: They all pretty much pick the "bossy" woman.
As the viewers talk through why they chose the woman who's "on her period" as the woman they'd like to work with (she had good ideas, she communicated them to her team, she appears passionate about her work) something clicks for them: It just might be this woman's personality — not her period — that dictates her behavior. "It must feel awful," one male participant says. "It takes away the validity of the statement." The female viewers agree: There are reasons besides menstruation that a woman might act a certain way. "It could be anything else, but my period," one woman says. The ad really spells its message out, and it's an important one to remember: No matter how you feel during your period, you shouldn't be judged for your emotions — and, beyond that, you shouldn't feel obligated to blame your period if you do feel strongly about something. Just live your life through your cycle as unapologetically as you want.