You may have noticed that more and more folks are starting to open up the conversation around periods. Whether it’s on social media, in the press or just in day to day chats with our friends, our perceptions of periods are finally beginning to change.
It wasn’t that long ago when I’d slip a tampon up my sleeve and skuttle into the school toilets each month, terrified that someone would realise that *gasp* I had my period. I still remember my teenage years so well, peeling off a pad in slow motion in a desperate attempt to not make a sound. Now? Now I’ll happily tell someone that I’m on my period.
How times have changed.
And part of that change is due to a growing number of famous faces talking about their periods in the public eye. Why does this matter? It can be easy to dismiss the relevance of celebrity in our 21st century world but, truth be told, celebrities still have incredible influence over our lives. If we see a respected public figure talking about their periods in the press, it helps to change the dialogue around our own menstrual cycles.
Let’s meet five famous faces who’ve been opening up about their periods this past year. We salute you.
Like many of us, Candace Cameron’s first reaction to menstrual cups was one of fear. In fact, her first thoughts were “that sounds really nasty and I don’t want a cup up in there!”. But it was her Instagram followers who brought her around to the idea of giving a menstrual cup a go.
Candace tried it out and her reaction? “I loved it.” She walked her Instagram followers through her whole experience, explaining her fears and then how she got on with the cup after getting over the initial nerves. “I left it in for 10 hours the first day, there was no leakage, no spotting and I didn’t feel it!”.
Sharing what used to be such a private experience in such a public way is so powerful in transforming public perception of periods. As a society, we used to feel such shame around periods – and many of us still do – but conversations like this are opening up new dialogues around alternative menstrual products and helping to empower menstruators around the world in making informed decisions when it comes to managing their periods.
You may well have already seen Kristen Bell’s menstrual cup story that hit headlines back in November. Kristen had tried out the Diva Cup but struggled to remove it, leading her to experience a vasovagal syncope episode which caused her to faint.
We love the advice given by Intimina, who said “Your cup might have moved up too high for you to get a good grip on. If this happens, make sure to use your pelvic floor muscles to push down, until you can get a good grip on the base of the cup”. Here at The Cup Effect, we always recommend to try and make yourself as relaxed as possible the first time you try out a cup. Light a few candles, play some soft music and run a bubble bath. These can all be fantastic ways to calm the nerves and help with the insertion and removal process.
Nevertheless, we applaud Kristen for speaking out about her experience and giving cups a try. Each of our bodies are totally unique so it’s all about experimenting and finding the right menstrual products that work for you. Sometimes that might be a different brand of cup and sometimes it might be a different product altogether, and that’s totally okay!
Who did you tell the first time you got your period? What was their reaction? According to Demi Lovato, her mum and sister decided to celebrate her first period by wishing her “Happy Period Day!”.
Demi’s sister even created a poster to congratulate her, which embarrassed her at the time but it sounds as though she’s pretty grateful for the positive reception as she looks back now.
How we treat our children when they first start menstruating sets the stage for their relationship with their periods for the rest of their lives. If we instill fear and shame by asking them to keep their periods behind closed doors, then that’s exactly how they’re going to feel growing up. I think we can all learn a lot from Demi’s family celebrations.
The Kardashian and Jenner families essentially grew up on TV with their show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ running for over a decade (and counting). The show sees the Kardashian sisters walk their younger siblings through different menstrual product options and how to use them. Kourtney Kardashian, however, has gone one step further by celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Kourney and her friend Stephanie Shepard joined in with the Menstrual Hygiene Day festivities this year with a personal article on Kourtney’s lifestyle site, Poosh. The article examined how lack of access to menstrual products are affecting women and girls around the world.
“When a girl’s basic needs are met, she can focus less on surviving in the world and more on transforming it. But without a solution to manage monthly cycles, over eight million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss up to one week of school every month. Many girls stop going entirely once they start their period. Can you imagine if this was our reality—if you and I were forced to drop out of school and let go of our dreams because we were unable to access or afford period products? Now, imagine a world in which this was no longer anyone’s reality. What would happen if every woman and girl were able to manage menstruation?”Stephanie Shepard
This is such a powerful example of a public platform being used for good. Hopefully the Kardashians will continue to use their influence to spread awareness in such a positive way.
HRH The Duchess of Sussex
When Harry and Meghan got married last year, they asked for a series of charitable donations in lieu of gifts. Naturally, the media frenzy meant that each of their charities were thrown into the public eye which is why we were so delighted to see Meghan highlighting the issue of period poverty.
The charity in question? Myna Mahila Foundation, who are based in India and were the only non-British organisation on the couple’s list. The organisation seeks to break down the stigmas surrounding periods in India whilst employing local women to create sanitary pads for sale in the local community.
In a 2017 Time Magazine article, Meghan said: “To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education. When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally. If that is our dream for them, then the promise of it must begin with us. Period.”
It is my hope that The Duchess, and all the famous faces listed here, will continue to push the subject of menstrual health into the public eye so that we can continue to break taboos and feel empowered when it comes to managing our periods, wherever we are in the world.
Pip Christie is a Freelance Digital Marketer who heads up marketing and communications at The Cup Effect as a volunteer. She has over four years experience working across the charity and start-up sectors following her Masters degree in Human Rights. She now works with charities and small business clients as a freelancer. You can follow her across social media @PipUnedited or visit her website at pipchristie.com