Power to the people (& the period)

Cw: Blood, menstruation

As I write this, I am on my period.
I am menstruating. The red river is flowing. The painters are in. Etc etc.
However you like to say it, that is what is happening.
And you know what? I don’t care if everyone knows it.

We are taught from a young age to feel embarrassed about our monthly curse.
Plan International spoke to 1,000 girls in the UK between 14 and 21. Out of those, 48% felt embarrassed about their period and only 29% felt comfortable talking to their father about it. For something that should be as natural to these young girls as going to sleep, these statistics are heartbreaking.

I have had my period for around 7 years now, which is long enough for me to go from acceptance to shame and back again. I have gone through hell with my periods. I have been in so much pain that I have been sick, been unable to go to school and have had to spend days rolling around in a ball in agony. I wish I was joking. I was put on the pill around age 15 to combat the pain and the heavy flow, which worked a treat. However, it didn’t stop the embarrassment I felt. I would cough to mask the sound of an unwrapping pad in the bathroom, and the thought of buying my own sanitary products from a cashier rather than self service would make me blush. What if they knew I was on my period? What if they somehow managed to figure it out from the ever so subtle clues of tampax and paracetamol heading down their conveyer belt? That would surely be the end of the world.

In our lifetime, we spend 6.25 YEARS bleeding out of our vagina, and we get to pay only £18,000 aprox for the pleasure. Seems like a good deal to me…
Frankly I refuse to let something that costs this much and takes this long become a source of embarrassment to me. For £18,000 I should feel comfortable enough to run around with a big flashing sign above my head saying “I’M MENSTRUATING” (although I will settle for a t-shirt if needs be).

So, I have finally decided to stop being embarrassed for my period-there’s literally no point. It’s something that half the human population goes through monthly, and being worried about it is using up energy that could be better placed filling up my hot water bottle. If you’re someone that I would mention I had a bit of a cold or a broken finger to, I’m afraid I will tell you if I’m having cramps. There will be no more slipping sanitary towels and tampons into a sleeve as I head to the bathroom-I will be holding them high like a shining beacon of feminine glory. If I can’t meet up with you because I’m feeling particularly gross, you might well get a blow by blow account of why I’m feeling that way. So get used to it.

Sanitary product company Bodyform have started a #bloodnormal campaign. They will be the first company to show blood in an advert instead of the usual light blue. While I am usually sceptical about corporations exploiting feminism and body confidence to promote their own sales, this is a fantastic step forward for period pride. The thought of there being an advert on television seen by young girls and boys alike fills me with more joy than you could imagine (perhaps more joy than simulated period blood should fill me with, but that’s a topic for another time).

I have hope (perhaps naively) that in the near future period shame will be a thing of the past. But until then, I will continue to be flagrantly unbrazen during my menstruation (which gives me more brain space to worry about whether or not I’ve leaked, which is of course much more important).
I hope you will join me.

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