If you’re a person with a vagina, it’s pretty likely that at some point, you’ll have a period. You’ll menstruate. Blood and other fluids will come out of your vagina.
It’s something that we’ve had to deal with for centuries. But for some strange reason, we still act like periods are something taboo.
We hide our tampons. We’re told not to talk about period-related symptoms. We’re told period sex is ‘gross’.
And if we ever show any evidence of our periods, we’re censored, silenced, and told to clean ourselves up. Which is bloody ridiculous.
This yoga instructor is fighting back.
This week, Stephanie Góngora (known as casa_colibri on Instagram, where she has more than 250,000 followers) chose to share a video of herself doing yoga as she bled through a pair of white yoga pants.
This shouldn’t a big deal. But it is. It’s a powerful protest against the lingering stigma around periods, and sends a bold message that leaks and stains are nothing to be ashamed of.
‘I am a woman, therefore, I bleed,’ Stephanie wrote in the video’s caption.
‘It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s terrible, & it’s beautiful. And yet, you wouldn’t know. Because I hide it.
‘I bury things at the bottom of the trash. I breathe, ragged and awkward through the cramps, all the while holding onto this tight lipped, painted on smile.
‘Tampons? What are those. We don’t say those words out loud. Hide them. In the back pocket of your purse, in the corner of the bathroom drawer, at the very bottom of your shopping cart (please let me get a female cashier).
‘Events or engagements get missed. I’ll tell myself it’s the PMS, sure, but it has more to with the risk of being “caught,” at what…I’m not quite sure.’
Stephanie goes on to call herself lucky, noting that millions of young women around the world have to miss school or work because of a lack of decent sanitary products, and a fear of judgement for showing evidence of their periods.
Stephanie wants us all to stop being so ashamed of something entirely natural and normal.
‘Hundreds of years of culture have made us embarrassed to bleed,’ she writes. ‘Have left us feeling dirty and ashamed.
‘STOP PRETENDING. Stop using silly pet names like Aunt Flo because you’re too afraid to say “I’m bleeding” or “vagina.”
‘Stop wasting so much effort hiding the very thing that gives this species continuity.
‘START talking about it. Educate your daughters. Make them understand that it can be both an inconvenience and a gift, but NEVER something to be ashamed about.
‘Educate your sons so they don’t recoil from the word tampon. So when a girl bleeds through her khaki shorts in third period (pun intended), they don’t perpetuate the cycle of shame and intolerance.’
Of course, as with all period-related posts on social media, Stephanie’s video was flooded with negative comments, calling her ‘gross’. Which completely misses the point – but it’s evidence of just how much work still needs to be done.
But in amongst all the negativity, there were women commenting to thank Stephanie for refusing to hide her period away, and praising her for taking a stand.
‘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,’ Stephanie told Cosmopolitan.
‘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.’