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Why it’s time to rethink our period wardrobes

Words by Hannah Cole

Illustration by Twylamae

Take more of an IDGAF approach. 

I have a question for all the bleeding humans out there: How often do you talk about your period? With yourself, with friends, with family?

I’ve never shied away from menstruation talk – with two sisters it’s nigh impossible – but a recent passing comment stopped me in my tracks. A dear little revolutionary (in my eyes) was donning a white skirt, all the while discussing her depleted tampon supplies.

Call me stupid or naïve, but until this point, I thought I had defeated the patriarchy when it came to my monthly cycle. I gave up tampons as a middle-finger to the pink tax and a high-five to the environment (bring on the menstrual cup). I invested in some Thinx – or pundies (period undies) as I affectionately call them. And I donate, when/where I can, to Share the Dignity, a charity supporting women in poverty through the supply of menstrual products. All in all, I felt I had finally come to terms with my so-called womanhood and embraced it with pride.

But the Man still had one fist firmly gripping my freedom: every cycle my wardrobe would similarly adjust. I would spend three weeks frolicking in white dresses, pale prints and linens, but as soon as that time came, I was amassed in a swathe of black. I’d logically rotate through all the dark bottoms at my fingertips: jeans, silk pants, midi skirt, mini skirt. And repeat. Every month.  

Ashamed as I am, I’m thankful for the unconscious awakening this remark delivered. I was groomed by society to fear white – or anything a shade lighter than black. I was petrified of discovering a shocking smear of red on my pants, too conspicuously-placed to pass off as tomato sauce or jam. There’s an inherent shame in bleeding, highlighted by every teen drama.

It seemed time, then, to suck it up and smash this final frontier. I put my internal battle to the test, not letting myself even linger over a pair of black bottoms. It was all pale denim and lighter prints during my last five-day cycle.

I started the week as a bag of nerves. Walking out of home that day wearing a light denim skirt, I worried about envisioned future leaks. (Yes, I am neurotic – I admit I was perfectly buoyed and protected by my trusty cup and pundies).

My #1 fear in all this: Would someone actually tell me if the cup runneth over? I walked around the city contemplating, which led to other questions. Would I alert a stranger if they had blemished their bottoms? Where did we go so wrong that women don’t even have each others’ backs? Because, after all, we’re in this together, right? Overthinking: a blessing and a curse.

But, I survived. I held my breath awaiting the inevitable every time I went to the bathroom, but my fears were always allayed. It would seem the inevitable was not so inevitable. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if I wear black, white, red or blue; my protection party is just as strong. It’s ridiculous, but without a challenge, logic would not win.

While my feeble attempt at *research* is not monumental, I’ll admit that it has acted as a personal leap for me. With menstruation still widely regarded as a taboo topic around the world, aside from friendship circles and sisters, any step to highlight its normalcy is positive. Let’s talk about our periods – the horrors, the gore, the fascination. And let’s not discuss with fear of judgement and scorn. The poor thing has been flushed down the toilet for too long and needs to come up for air.

Moving forward, I’m *trying* to take more of an IDGAF approach. I might stain a bedsheet or pair of undies here and there. Shock horror – I may even blemish my skirt in public once in a while. But, you know what, maybe it’s worth it in the long-run. A moments’ embarrassment may encourage a few more open discussions and awareness of reality. And if it’s at my expense, I might not even care. One advantage of living in the city: I don’t even know you from a bar of soap.

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