How many times have you slid a tampon up the sleeve of your shirt en route to the bathroom? Or winced in mortification because a spot of blood seeped through to your jeans? Blogger and YouTuber Grace Victory sought to challenge the shame and stigma that continues to accompany periods, despite their normality for the majority of people with uteruses, only to meet with a frustratingly retrograde reaction. Victory shared a photo of her period blood — and promptly lost 150 followers.
As Cosmopolitan reports, Victory captioned a photo of herself alongside a bloodstain on her sheets with "Let's normalise bleeding," asking her followers, "How does this image make you feel?" She accompanied it with an extract of a poem she wrote for Always' #EndPeriodPoverty campaign: "for the redness turns to shame/and the inner peace blends to hate/and the sweetness of chocolate to cure the same does nothing".
Though multiple commenters celebrated Victory's photo and her efforts to normalise period blood, others reacted less positively. According to Cosmopolitan, she followed up with an Instagram story saying, "I lost 150 followers after posting this. How wild is that." She added, "2018 and people are still grossed out over period blood. We are still full of shame and embarrassment over something so so so natural."
Victory continued, "Just hate how period blood is viewed. It's so important for my healing to express and grow through the uncomfortableness of who I am. Sexuality, vaginas, our wombs — why is it so wrong for them to be seen and talked about?"
Fortunately, the response is unlikely to silence Victory: she wrote, "Still inspired to create more conversations though." This isn't the first time Victory's encouraged her followers to talk about menstruation, either. In an earlier post, she shared the full poem she wrote for the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign. "For every like or comment of my poem, Always will donate 1 pad to a school girl in need via @theredboxprojectUK," Victory explained. And it's currently standing at almost 8,000 likes and a whole bunch of comments — unsurprisingly, given the power of the poem and the significance of the cause. Victory writes: "They skip school Because / their existence is a / privilege and their womb a / disadvantage And it’s food / or tampons What / would you choose?"
Victory has made a habit of using her platform to tackle prevailing social issues. She's addressed the lack of racial diversity when it comes to the bloggers who receive awards, major campaigns, and recognition, and she's stressed the crucial importance of media representation for people of colour. She's discussed her mental health issues and her progress in therapy, all with a candour that's hugely consequential in a society that continues to stigmatise mental illness. And she consistently promotes body positivity, challenging the societal preoccupation with exclusionary beauty ideals.
Last year, she performed a spoken word TEDx Talk that unpacked her relationship with her body in the face of thin, white beauty standards — and a quick glance at the love and pride dominating the frequently toxic YouTube comment section indicates just how vital Victory's online presence is.
It's pretty obvious, in short, why Grace Victory's earned the title of "the Internet's big sister." Let's hope she continues to create content that destabilises social norms and challenges prevailing stigma — and that the naysayers start to listen.