I'm All For Normalising Periods But Smearing It On Your Face Is Just Bloody Gross
Don’t read on if you have a weak stomach. Consider yourself warned. You’re welcome.
Demetra Nyx has shared photos of her blood-smeared face on Instagram, saying, “Our blood is shamed, taxed and hidden. By putting my blood on my face, I am saying that I adore my body in all of its expressions and natural form.”
Thousands of comments like these below have been left in response to her radical efforts to combat period stigma:
“You’re menstruating, I can tell. It’s written all over your face.”
“My Aunt Flo would be disgusted if she saw this. Period.”
“If she gets diagnosed with IBS, I want to see her next move.”
Okay, I admit, there’s a good chance these are just the few that made me lol the most.
But anyway. In spite of her somewhat unconventional execution of beliefs, she’s raising a valid and important point. We applaud the point. Those of us who are women know all too well the embarrassment and shame associated with our period.
We have spent our lives feeling the need to be discreet; as younger girls we avoided swimming carnivals and sleepover parties at that time of the month, as women we still hide tampons at the bottom of the trolley and wear dark colours the day our period is due.
I could tell you a dozen period shame stories. In fact, I challenge you to find a woman who doesn’t have a story; or most likely numerous stories, in fact.
Nobody can deny that we need to work harder to normalise periods. Share more. Teach more. Discuss more in an everyday life context. There needs to be more than girls given a lesson about periods in sex-ed class and sent away with an in-case-of-emergency pad to carry around in their bag. Or in my case, coming home from school one afternoon to a packet of pads left on my bed, no further discussion (it didn’t get any better when my period arrived later that year and my mother’s only comment was, “Well, at least you’re not pregnant.” I was 11, ffs).
We need more conversations not just with our daughters, but also our sons. Especially our sons. Like the viral post last year about a boy who pulled a girl aside on the bus and discreetly gave her his sweater to tie around her waist when he noticed a stain on the back of her pants. “I have sisters, it’s all good,” he said.
That, right there, people, is the goal.
But there’s raising awareness, and there’s just being, well, kind of gross.
And while I’m totally on board with Demetra’s desire to end period shame, I have to admit things started to get a little weird for me with the comment, "My blood to me has become fun, beautiful and powerful, and playing with it brings me closer to myself.” Um, no. Just no.
And it’s not as if our ancestors weren’t all over the sacred feminine ritual stuff. Every month at “moon time” they would, with their pheremonally synchronised cycles, gather in the Red Tent -- a place for women to slow down during their bleeding phase; a time of regathering, renewal and rebirth. They would nurture and care for one another and use the energy of the moon and the shedding of their wombs to tap into the higher wisdom of the universe. But I feel like even they would have balked a little at finger-painting their bodies with their own menstrual blood in an attempt to connect to, and empower, their divine feminine.
We do need to come back to the place where girls are taught their periods are more than just an inconvenience of modern-day lifestyle; where they learn instead of the certain sacredness associated with their monthly cycles and develop reverence for that which their bodies are capable. We do need to end whatever shame and stigma still surrounds a woman’s period.
But at what point does a conversation intended to bring awareness cross over to an obsessive, perhaps unhealthy, over-glorification of a bodily function? I think most of us feel it’s probably the moment we start playing around and having fun with the unwanted remains of our uterine lining.
“There is a tremendous amount of power in learning that we can experience pleasure from the parts of our bodies we deem in society as ‘disgusting.’ If we can love the unlovable, all of life opens up to us.” I don’t think anyone disagrees. But is smearing menstrual blood on our faces actually combatting a stigma, or just creating an even bigger one?
That’s for the internet to decide.
In the meantime, it seems Demetra has achieved exactly what she set out to do: create a conversation around period stigma.
Feature Image: Instagram