A few weeks ago, with International Menstrual Health Day* in mind, we put out a call on Instagram for people who’d be willing to join our push against stigma by talking publicly about their own experiences with periods. We honestly had no idea what to expect.
What we did know is that to end period poverty, we’ll have to work on a number of levels, and that normalizing talking about periods is a crucial early (and ongoing) step. That’s why we hoped during this campaign to share ideas and perceptions around menstruation itself, and to (re)consider the language and framing we use.
The response to our call came from all over Amsterdam. People were excited to take part and ready to share. Our little collective sprang into action, with volunteers planning sessions to collaborate on creating the graphic elements, taking portraits, and of course collecting everyone’s conversations and comments.
Some people we spoke with focused on the personal impact of having periods, including practical realities with psychological impact, such as the lack of trash bins in all restrooms. Some talked about the shame they’d been made to feel while menstruating. Others addressed the cascade of impact from inadequate medical research on menstruation health. Yet others brought up the structural inequity that exists for people who menstruate, especially when coming from disadvantaged neighborhoods. There was so much nuance and such a wide variety of ideas. And lots of feelings, whether positive, neutral, negative or a bit of all the feelings.
We warmly encourage you to look through their stories once again, because they really do put it best.
We see these #PeriodTalks stories as a showcase of how we experience periods in 2022. This “slice in time” showcases some of our gains and struggles, as well as our points of pride and discomfort. Above all, the campaign is a pushback against silence and taboos.
Our warmest thank you to everyone who so generously participated. You are seen and heard, and you are beautiful. Thank you to everyone who shared the campaign. Thank you for marking International Menstrual Health Day just by reading along; let’s keep these conversations going in more places. Onward!
*We and many others prefer ‘Health’ because it is a broader and more neutral term than ‘Hygiene’ which can feed into the stigmatizing idea of being unclean.