From DivaCups to tampons to Thinx, there are so many ways to manage your period these days. When women try free- bleeding in a new Buzzfeed video, however, they discover that the "au naturel" approach is one option that might be better left off that list.
When my mom started surfing the crimson wave back in the '60s, a bulky sanitary napkin held in place by a sanitary belt was her only option. As one Bustle writer discovered trying out this draconian contraption, it doesn't ever let you forget that you are mid-menstruation with its bulky shape and ever shifting position. Given this uncomfortable history, it's no wonder period scientists (is that a real thing?) have sought to minimize discomfort and make period havers feel like they're wearing nothing at all.
Enter free-bleeding. A popular form of menstruation (non) management since the dawn of civilization, it's a little more difficult now that humans are expected to keep their personal hygiene extremely personal. While we can bleed into our underwear (thanks re-usable absorbent pads!), we cannot bleed into our clothes and onto the world around us. Well, we can, but it usually doesn't go over too well.
Here are five revelations three women had when free-bleeding for the first time:
1. It Feels Really Weird
We're taught to run to the bathroom at any inkling of a trickle, and all three participants were very uneasy about letting their flow seep through their clothes.
2. It Doesn't Smell So Great
All those involved in the challenge found it easier to walk around and let themselves air out than sit and stew in their period juices. Although it is just another natural human smell, women have unfortunately been trained by patriarchal society that this bodily function is pretty unsavory.
3. You Can't Sit On Nice Furniture
While it might have been freeing back in the Paleolithic era to bleed down your legs while hunting or gathering, you're pretty much chained to a puppy pad if you try free-bleeding in most contemporary settings today.
4. Showering Is A Must
Although you can get away with skipping a shower or two if you use tampons, the free-bleeders noted that washing away their sticky build up was a must.
5. Internalized Period Shame Persists
Because women are so used to hiding their periods, the stars of this video found that having them out in the open was a revelatory experience. One woman noted that she didn't wear make up the day she was free-bleeding, and another said she didn't eat. They correlated both acts to the shame or self-consciousness surrounding free-bleeding.
"I spent the day trying to change my frame of mind from, 'Oh this is blood and that's gross' to this is something that is the most natural thing for my body to be doing," said one of the free-bleeders. However you manage your period, fighting period stigma remains a necessity.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; BuzzFeedYellow/YouTube