Their internal struggle over posting about something they believed in really hurt my heart. I’ve grown into a very thick skin, and even though I used to be quite shy, some things need to be said, and in this case, done.
I knew a bright red blood spot on pristine white pants would make a statement in a society that rarely takes the time to actually read — that catching people’s eye with something a little more shocking might be necessary to snap them out of their social media scrolling, iPhone holding, mindless meme-watching daze. After all, it would have felt hypocritical for me to just post something that barely anyone would read when leaks are SUCH a typical occurrence for me, and something, I believe, women shouldn’t have to be ashamed of. So I decided to wear white during my period and film my practice, leaks and all, without any sort of sponsorship.
The next time I had my period, I’d was practicing alone for almost an hour with a tampon in when I felt like it was about to leak, which is fairly common for me on my heavy days. Instead of running to the bathroom, I switched out of the shorts I was wearing, pulled on my white leggings, and kept flowing, filming the whole thing in one take.
When I began to feel excessive wetness and realized there was blood on my pants, I was initially uncomfortable since I, like most people, generally prefer to remain clean and dry. However, it was discomfort without full blown icky-ness or disgust, and it was greatly overshadowed by a quiet sense of contentment. I was confident in my intent — to not feel ashamed of the blood seeping through my pants — and that made me confident in my actions.
Once I shared the video on Instagram, the post was just as provocative as I’d expected. In the comments section, there were many supportive people, including both men and women; people who loved the message but couldn’t get behind my delivery; people who said they hated the message, both respectfully and by flinging cuss words and slurs; and people who told me to go kill myself or that they wanted to kill me.
For the first few days, I responded to people to continue the discussion. Occasionally, I answered questions to explain why normalizing period blood is not the same thing as a man getting an erection and being able to whip his penis out in public. After a few days, I stopped deleting slurs and insults — if people want to put their ignorance out on display, who am I to stop them? Besides, they just serve as further proof that it was worth putting myself out there to get this conversation started.
Since posting, I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands of direct messages with period stories, and leak stories, thanks you’s, and people admitting that they were shocked and disgusted by my post — but only until they began to consider why they felt that way. Their disgust then turned to anger towards the system and society that has evolved to make women feel dirty.
I’ve been successful in getting people to talk about period shame, something that was shrouded in such silence for far too long, it’s not like I’m going to start free bleeding. It would mean a lot of stained clothes, car seats, and sheets, so I don’t think it’s in the cards for me. But I do hope that this cycle of shame and intolerance around the very thing that gives our species continuity can, one day soon, stop.