July 2, 2015

Claiming our Power to End the Shame of Bleeding. Period. {Photography Series & the Picture Instagram Wouldn’t Allow}

There are over 3 billion women on our planet that bleed monthly as part of our menstruation cycles.

We bleed because it is only our bodies that hold the gift of carrying and birthing life into this world.

We all know that women bleed each month—yet it is still a taboo topic.

We feel more comfortable talking about morning wood and anal sex than we do about our regular cycles. Yet, this ability to bleed each month is the very essence of female energy. It is where our virility is sourced from—it is the very foundation of knowledge that we are all connected by the biology of our bodies.

Bleeding once a month is not dirty or unsanitary, despite what different cultures and practices may suggest. It is the practice of our body cleansing itself so that we may begin a new cycle. It’s not to be hidden inside the dark corners of our lives, and it is not something to be embarrassed about.

There is no shame in having a period.

There is no shame in bleeding through our clothing—and there is no shame in still enjoying sex with our lovers while we are menstruating.

Being comfortable with the natural cycles of our bodies is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Women’s bodies transition naturally each month. During certain times of the month, our breasts become fuller, we create more vaginal lubrication and then, if we don’t become pregnant, we also bleed.

Rupi Kaur is a groundbreaking artist who recently had one of her images removed from Instagram. It has since been put back up and sparked a worldwide conversation about periods and why they are still viewed as something we should be ashamed of.

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing this queen who inspires me not only with her images, but with her words as well.

Together, we hope to start the discussion that can change how periods are viewed forever—for all of the women who currently struggle, and for those young girls of future generations.

The following is her entire photography series period. and her inspirational words from our interview together:

“I was on my period the first time this idea came to mind. I was in bed dying of pain (naturally!) and cursing the damn thing. And then in between the cursing and self pity I thought: Why am I so negative about my period all the time? I realized one thing: That I was going to be stuck with this thing probably for the next 40 years or so. And there was no way that I wanted to spend one week a month for the next 40 years sulking about how unlucky I am for being a woman who gets her period.

“And the truth was, using that type of language with myself was not okay. Even though I probably didn’t really mean it, I was still putting negative energy out into the world. I’m a big believer in energies. I believe that you become what you put out into the world. So if you put out negativity you will only feel and become negative. How could I possibly say I hate being a girl when we are capable of so much?

“And so that’s when I decided: I was going to work on a project that would showcase me celebrating my period.

“I was honestly completely shocked when Instagram removed the photograph, which you might think is a bit naive. But the photo didn’t violate any guidelines at all! The model is fully clothed and all you can see is a spot of blood. I recognize that I’m coming from a very biased perspective though. I took up this project in an educational context and posted it with the same context, so I didn’t expect that level of outrage. I assumed that yeah, some users might get upset and leave hateful comments but not once did I think it would have been taken down. I couldn’t even image an employee of Instagram, sitting behind his/her desk coming to the conclusion that such an image is ‘unsafe’ for Instagram, when Instagram is home to a plethora of sexualized and violent images of women.

“So when I saw they took it down, I was outraged that they would try to quiet down my voice. And so naturally I did what I’d do in any other situation where someone is trying to take my voice away—I spoke louder.

“Honestly, the point of the project was to demystify periods.  It was supposed to get the conversation going. It was supposed to show that something as normal as periods is something we have hidden away in the abyss pretending that it doesn’t exist, and that is not okay. Periods are a reality for billions of us. We don’t deserve to be shamed for them. We don’t deserve to be fired from our jobs just because we need to take a day or two off to deal with the pain. We don’t have to go out of our way to hide them. We don’t need to be embarrassed while buying pads or tampons. We don’t deserve to be pulled out of school, or locked in our homes, because we are considered ‘dirty’.

“I come from a mix of two worlds, both East and West, so there is a lot of intersectionality with my experience with periods. I have experienced the troubles from both ends. A lot of folks have said, ‘Women aren’t shamed or oppressed for having periods here in North America’ but that simply isn’t true. There is still shame and there is still oppression. It’s just in different forms. You might not be stopped from going to school or your place of worship in the USA, but you face a whole different set of issues.

“The West is not that much more advanced than the East; they just oppress in a different way. That’s the conversation I wanted to start. This is the reality I wanted to showcase to the world. When the world screamed back, ‘Take the photo down we don’t have a problem with periods,’ I wanted to ask, ‘then why does it bother you if it’s up?’ There was a lot of irony in people’s reactions and, within that irony, the photoset accomplished its goals.

“My one wish for all women, young or old, is to have them know they are more powerful than they know.

“You have the entire world sitting inside of you waiting to be explored and you have to be the one to explore it. If this journey has taught me one thing it is that with enough hard work and dedication you can honestly, honestly accomplish anything. So what is it that you want to accomplish?

“Stay humble. Stay grounded. And stay focused on the right things. In our fast paced world full of Internet and technology, don’t let your beautiful spirit get lost within it. You have so much more to do in this life than spend countless hours surfing social media and curating yourself in a way that you think might be accepted. The Internet, although great, isn’t always great for your soul. Read books; go on picnics; eat dinner at the table with your family. Reach into your inner self and do the things you fear. Take the risks. This life is honestly a gift that comes once. You only get to be you once. And that’s right now. Do what you want to do right now. If you don’t, you’re the one missing out.

“The external world, society, is going to have a lot of crap to throw at you. It’s going to make you feel completely worthless and useless at many points in your life. But you’re the one that’s going to have to learn to overcome that. We all deal with thorns. We all feel pain. And we have to learn to weather it. Don’t allow people’s perception of you cloud your self-perception. Don’t let people’s projections on to you shake your self-esteem. You are everything you need. So own it.

“You deserve every happiness. And you are the only one that can give yourself that.”

This photography series was meant to bring to light the realities of menstruation. It was meant to start a discussion and to hopefully make women not only more comfortable in their bodies, but also to inspire all of us to embrace our sacred feminine energy.

To bleed is a sacred gift of the young and fertile; it is the symbol of being ripe with the possibility of life.

Instead of looking at our periods as a pain that we have to put up with, instead we should view it as the ultimate privilege of being a woman.

I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. My womb is home to the divine. A source of life for our species. Whether I choose to create or not. But very few times it is seen that way. In older civilizations this blood was considered holy. In some it still is. But a majority of people. Societies. And communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. The sexualization of women. The violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. But will be angered and bothered by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty. Attention seeking. Sick. A burden. As if this process is less natural than breathing. As if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. As if this process is not love. Labor. Life. Selfless and strikingly beautiful. “ ~ Rupi Kaur



Authors: Kate Rose & Rupi Kaur 

Editor: Caroline Beaton 

Images: All Images used by permission from the artist: period. is a photo series shot by sisters Rupi and Prabh Kaur. Art direction by Rupi Kaur.




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