Much to Donald Trump’s probable confusion, I’m sitting here working while I’m bleeding. Blood just spurting out like a geyser. No just kidding, I’m wearing a menstrual cup but it’s a gusher. But nonetheless, I’ve had my fair share of period leaks in the past. I once accidentally had a blob (unbeknownst to me obvs) make its way on to the floor while switching tampons of my then-boyfriend’s bathroom floor. Ten minutes later the BF went in there only to come out and ask me if I had an “accident”. I blamed it on his roommate’s cat.In retrospect I realized I should have owned it. It’s not like I peed in my pants or something. Unlike other bodily fluids, periods are pretty uncontrollable. Alas I am lucky. Not all girls have the advantage of blaming rando animals. On that note — and in light of Kiran Gandhi’s free flow run at the London marathon — I’ve decided to compile a list of ways to fight period stigma. Because making a statement isn’t enough. We have to do something about it. So here are three ways to help out whether it’s just here at home or around the world.
1. Create A Period Kit
As you may or may not know, many women and girls throughout the world do not have access to feminine hygiene. And disposable products are simply not an option. Many girls are forced to miss school for fear of bleeding all over the place. Think about that the next time you want to stay home because of some measly cramps!
If you fancy yourself a Martha Stewart type, you can actually sew pads with Days for Girls. Yeah girl whip out that hot pink floral fabric you’ve had hiding in your closet. It’s time to sew maxi pads! Days for Girls offers patterns and instructions so you can sew the pads (as well as a drawstring bag) yourself. Then you assemble a kit which includes a pair of panties, a washcloth, soap, moisture barrier shields to hold leaks in place, and a one gallon Ziploc freezer bags to store soiled underwear and for washing with little water. The kits last up to three years if made properly. I have a pair of expensive shorts that didn’t even last that long. Once it’s all said and done you can assemble your package and send it off to your local chapter, (if only want to send part of a kit, that’s OK too. They’ll take care of the rest.) You can also join your local chapter for sewing parties and meet some other like-minded ladies while you’re at it.
And if you can’t sew your way out of a pillowcase, you can always just drop some dough.
2. Period Subscriptions
Of course period shame doesn’t just exist in other countries, but here too in varying degrees. Think about how many times someone has asked you if you're on your period simply because you expressed an opinion. And although we may have much more access to feminine hygiene products here in the good ol’ US of A, that doesn’t mean bleeding can’t be awkward at times. Being caught off guard sans tampons/cups/pads can result in embarrassing leaks. Heck even if you are totally prepared, all it takes is one leak to mar an otherwise perfect outfit.
HelloFlo is a monthly service that keeps ladies fully stocked on the regs. They have awesome kits for young girls welcoming them into the world of menstruation. When I first got my period, I received an embarrassing talk from my mother and an examination of my first maxi pad, as well as my dad suddenly acting very uncomfortable around me. It was NOT pleasant. Hello Flo makes that experience a little more celebratory, with pads, candy, and even a pair of “Be your own ‘Shero’” underwear. New moms can get in on the action too with kits designed specifically for moms who are undoubtedly leaking from every orifice. Dear Kate leak-free underwear helps protect against light leaks (in other words still wear your tampon or menstrual cup) and keeps you fresh as a daisy.
3. Be Bold
Last not least, don’t act ashamed! Sure nobody wants a leak, any more than you want anyone to see you vomit or pee all over yourself. And periods can be messy. Smelly. And sometimes a little (or a lot) painful. We all want to look our best, but the fact that we have this thing that isn’t quite controllable can be…sticky to say the least. Pun intended.
Artist and poet Rupi Kaur found her photos deleted not once but twice from Instagram for uploading a picture of herself in sweatpants with a visible period leak. Though Instagram later reinstated the picture claiming it had made a mistake, Instagram had already demonstrated the real truth; that periods are by and large still very taboo. We watch blood and gore on TV and in the movies all the time, yet when it comes out of a woman’s crotch we are still oddly repulsed by it in a way that we aren’t if we’re watching let’s say Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Breaking Bad. Her boldness breaks a barrier when it comes to period stigmas.
I’m not saying you need to post bleeding photos of yourself on Instagram. But if a tampon or a pad falls out of your purse in public, so what? No need to act embarrassed. Why should we be secretly hiding our tampons on the way to the bathroom, god forbid anyone sees that our uterus is shedding like a mofo? Perhaps we shouldn’t. If you’re buying a box of pads at the store and the person ringing it up is a dude, don’t let it embarrass you. Men need to be comfortable with women getting periods.
I don’t get stoked at the idea of getting my period, but I’m certainly no longer embarrassed by it. I no longer feel ashamed to strut to a bathroom with a panty liner in hand. Because I’m a woman, damn it! Hear me roar!
Images: SuSanA Secretariat/Flickr; Days for Girls; Hello Flo; Rupi Kaur /Twitter