Period is not a luxury
2020 – ONGOING
A series of self-portraits started during lockdown.
The photos you see in this series are meant to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty. Most photos used to illustrate texts about menstruation are usually showing perfectly white, clean pads that have nothing to do with reality. A tampon covered in red glitter or a red melting popsickle are nice metaphors, but still only metaphors. I wanted to show the truth about periods in my pictures. And the beautiful strong red color of my menstrual blood collected with the use of a menstrual cup, inspired me to use it as a natural paint.
I came up with the idea to combine the visuals of sanitary pads, which are neither sexy nor glamorous, with the aesthetics of vintage jewelry and sexy lingerie ads. Contrary to the slogan that “the period is not luxurious”.
Some of the images presented here I uploaded to the free stock photo platform Unslpash to make it possible for people to use honest depictions of menstruation in the media.
The photos are accompanied by captions I posted them with on social media.
Menstruation again. But I feel there’s still so much to talk about. Almost every action movie depicts blood at some point, yet female period blood is considered a taboo. Although it’s not dirty, ugly or shameful. It’s pure and healthy. I know this image can be too strong or not in a good taste to some of you, but I take the risk. Because: why is blood coming from any wound OK to look at, and menstrual blood considered un-lookable. As a woman my teenage years I spent fearing of a moment when my pad would leak and leave me ashamed in front of all people. But it does happen, the same way as cuts and bruises happen. And it should be equally normal in my opinion. As a person who is generally sensitive to blood, and always had issues with fainting when my blood samples were needed for a test, I learned to accept, embrace and admire my monthly flows. I hope that it can become a normal thing, not something women have to hide. I decided to upload this photo to the service Unsplash, where you can download it for free and use in whatever way you would like. Let’s make period blood as it is – normal blood.
L’eau de Pussy
Menstrual blood is pure, it’s healthy and natural. It doesn’t stink! Only letting it sit for too long in a plastic pad makes it stinky. But I bet your yummy sandwich would stink after such treatment as well. There’s no need to buy scented pads or special aromatic wash to make your vagina smell “better”, as it’s naturally odorless in the same way as your other body parts. Moreover – it’s basically a sealed and protected environment with lots of good bacteria to protect it from any inflammation. To put it short: most of the times your vagina is odorless and healthy, if it’s not odorless you don’t need a scented wash or pad, you need a doctor as you might have a bacterial infection. Otherwise – you’re good with plain water and very mild wash.
We live in a culture that taught women they stink, especially on their periods. Whereas it’s the culture we should change not the smell of our pussies. I propose you answer to whoever next tells you that you need a perfume down there, that you’re already using one, it’s called l’eau de pussy. Edition very very limited.
Cést La Vie
It’s time to stop treating menstruation as some insignificant or secret part of life. Every day there are 800 million people menstruating, of which 62% don’t have access to clean and safe toilet. 800 million people! And only because we were taught in different cultures around the world that it’s some feminine disposition and thus should be kept private, no one is debating this openly. Well, the numbers clearly show it’s not some minor aspect of life. Menstruation is life. Without menstruation there would be no life. Let’s cut the bullshit and start a proper conversation how to help people who menstruate have the hygiene, respect and peace of mind they need.
Inspired by the discussion that started in the stories, I googled “period and feelings” and one of the first suggested follow up queries was “girlfriend crying on period”. Before you start dismissing this as a silly and harmful stereotype, let’s focus on it for a second. I can imagine that due to lack of proper s•x education, people who don’t menstruate might be simply lost and don’t know how to deal with the change of hormones happening in their partner’s life. As every person menstruates differently. I decided to see what results I would get if I search for an advice on how to comfort a crying girlfriend. I found an article from @bloodmilkwomen explaining in details what hormonal changes a menstruating person is going through, and giving a few guidelines at the end. I found a few that I think are really good:
“•Be patient! Don’t blame her irritability on her
period, but try to understand where she’s coming from. The main point here is to not assume what she needs. Instead, ask.
•Find out what will make her feel better. Then do it. Remember, the worst thing you can do is ask and then not deliver.
•Be attentive. Just pay attention to her. Ask about her day. Let her vent to you.“
Symbol of Salvation
“My menstruation demonstrating symbol of salvation” – the lyrics from my upcoming music video about period inspired me to take this photo. There’s no purer and more innocent blood than period blood, time to remove the stigma around it.
Find the detail that makes this nude photo not possible to be considered sexy. We have so many paintings, photographs depicting female nudes, and women’s butt is especially popular detail. Yet, there are several rules, that define when someone’s butt is desirable: it has to be young, it has to have perfect skin, for most of the time in history it also had to be a white butt. But most of all: it can never be a butt that’s showing any signs of menstrual blood.
According to statistics, an average woman
menstruates for 7 years of her lifetime. 7 freaking years! And yet, have you ever seen any depiction of it in any art form still art form? Only recently things started changing – Period. End of sentence won an Oscar for a short documentary in 2019, and with
it the taboo around period broke in popular culture. When I published the photo of my fingers covered in menstrual blood a while ago, and decided to make it available on Unsplash for free, so that anyone can use it, I was afraid it might be taken down for violating community rules. I’m happy to have been wrong – it’s still available and already Gash magazine used it for their article about period. This time I’m challenging classic nude poses – hopefully Instagram is as open as Unsplash. But time to break the taboo and make blood normal part of depiction of woman’s body.
P.S. The photo was taken down by Instagram for violating their community guidelines without a warning.
In the year when Period Red became an official Pantone color, think of menstruation when you see the typical Christmas red decorations around. If you want to give something meaningful this Holidays I have a few ideas – it costs nothing and can help change the world we live in.
• Sign the petition to end #periodpoverty in Germany
• visit Social Period and learn where you can donate menstrual hygiene products for people in need (there’s actually quite a few)
• share the knowledge about it, this photo or any information with others – it will only change when we’re fighting together #wereinthistogether
500 million people worldwide do not have access to menstrual products. Period poverty affects around 100,000 menstruating homeless people in Germany, but also many people who live on the verge of poverty. For people who are short of money, the cost of menstrual products can be a huge financial burden. Sustainable period underwear costs around 40 euros, menstrual cups around 15 euros. Tampons and pads cost 3 to 5 euros, depending on the amount. – stats based on Social Period.