Kira Puru on getting her first period while onstage and unpacking the stigma around menstruation

Words by Holly Harman

The lowdown on Aunty Flow. 

Australian pop sensation Kira Puru is known for her charismatic on-stage presence and fabulously candid approach to life. Yesterday she debuted her latest single ‘Chillin’ as the fourth instalment of Bond’s ‘Bloody Comfy Undies Presents Unplugged’ live performance series.

The series is showcasing new songs written by six artists during ‘that time of the month’ AKA while they were on their period. I (virtually) sat down with Kira to discuss periods and what she thinks about the age-old stigma around them.

Do you remember when you first got your period and what was that experience like?

I got my period, I think I was in primary school and I was literally on stage in a debate, I was in a debating team. I was wearing a pair of navy blue bike shorts that were very tight and not dark enough to conceal my bleeding and it was horrific. I remember wearing a lemon polo shirt and pulling it down as far as I could. I just ran to the bathroom… and then had to tend to the seat mishap. It was very traumatic and embarrassing. 

I can completely feel your pain, we’ve all been there, but maybe not on stage…

Well, I’m a performer through and through.

Why do you think we’re so embarrassed as young people about periods? And why do you think there’s still so much taboo around the topic?

Because of the patriarchy, I feel like women have not been able to exist freely for… ever! You know, there’s not even the same amount of medical research that goes into these things like sexual and reproductive health in women as there is for men. Unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go before women aren’t embarrassed about having basic, normal bodily functions in front of people.

You may be aware of the story of a woman, Kiran Ghandi, who ran the 2015 London Marathon on her period without a tampon, allowing herself to bleed through which shocked a lot of people. Do you think that in the near future, it won’t be headline-worthy when an individual chooses to bleed through, or do we have a long way to go?

I’m not sure, I sense that people are becoming more and more open to things that were previously taboo, so if we can keep going that way hopefully we can get to the point where women can make choices with their body without offending people, but I think we have a while to go before we get there.

How do you feel about periods in relationships? Do you feel it’s embarrassing to share with an intimate partner when you’re menstruating?

I guess it depends on the relationship you’re in and how comfortable you are about talking about your period, and the level of intimacy you want to have with your partner about that stuff. My partner, who is male, is completely open and comfortable and is really supportive of me so wants to make sure I’m healthy and happy and comfortable. So I think including discussions around periods is really important because that obviously concerns health and moods and that kind of thing. 

I definitely think it’s something we should be more open about, you can do all the Googling in the world, but having experiential advice and information from your peers is also really valuable. There are lots of other holistic ways of treating and managing issues with your period, even pain, so talking about it and normalising the discussion freely could allow people to share information that could help each other.

Are you a strong advocate for any product in particular?

I really sadly took a long time to start using a period cup but making the change to use something reusable is something I think is really important on the environmental front. I think we could all make small changes to make a big difference. For example, if you’re a tampon user I would definitely recommend moving over onto something like a cup or something like the Bonds’ period undies, because it means that you can have your period and reuse the product over and over without contributing to landfill.

Do you think there was a reason why you were hesitant to use a cup? 

I tried it once and it got stuck so I ended up lying on my bathroom floor for half an hour with my fingers up my vagina and having to pull it out. So I was traumatised by that experience. I guess that speaks more to the fact that there needs to be more discussion and more work around normalising period products. If I had known more I wouldn’t have got it stuck. I also think some people are scared to try new things, especially when there’s not a lot of information about these products, so talking more will allow people to learn more and help people get around things they haven’t tried before.

Do you think period undies might change the way people treat periods?

Yeah, I hope so, because really there’s no need to be inhibited in any way when we’re on our periods, so using things like period undies just allows us to incorporate period management into our everyday life. It’s just like whacking on a pair of undies and going, you don’t have to worry about incorporating another step into the day. Unlike a cup, it’s something you can just put on, compared to something you’ve not used before. I think it could go a long way in making things easier for those who bleed.

If you could go back as a grown woman and say something to your 11-year-old self on stage about your period, what would it be?

It would just be like, “Yeah! This is the next chapter of your life, it’s totally fine, it happens to everybody. Blood can be cleaned up, things can be cleaned up, it’s all good!” It shouldn’t be embarrassing at all to have something very normal and natural happening to your body… I would just want to make sure I didn’t feel the shame around it. 

Listen to Kira Puru’s new single ‘Chillin’ here.

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