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Period taboo has existed in many cultures and for many years. In fact, women and girls in India and Western Nepal continue to keep what is known as "menstruation huts," where women spend their days in total seclusion while on their periods.
Nonetheless, women worldwide are breaking the silence and bringing discussions about menstruation into the mainstream media. With the help of these women, we are making significant strides toward normalizing menstruation. Here are seven instances where women did amazing stuff during their period.
Chloe Bailey Absolutely Delivered at the VMAs on Her Period
Chloe Bailey slayed her performance of her song "Have Mercy" at the 2021 VMAs, even while (allegedly) on her period. The internet went wild when someone spotted what they thought was a tampon string in a photo, but instead of disgust, many took to social media outlets to express their solidarity for normalizing menstruation. Props to Chloe for killing it on stage and proving that periods don’t have to hold us back from crushing it in our careers.
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Olympian Fu Yuanhui Placed 4th While on Her Period
Fu Yuanhui competed in the women's 4x100-meter medley relay on the second day of her period. Despite the cramps and severe pain, she powered through and finished in fourth place. Critics then debated whether it was “hygienic” for her to enter the pool while on her period, continuing to stigmatize menstruation.
Paula Radcliffe Sheds Light on the Experience of Female Athletes
2002 Chicago Marathon winner Paula Radcliffe explained that sports haven't learned how to deal with the periods of elite athletes. She also discussed female athletes’ measures to control their periods, like taking medication to delay or stop them altogether. Here’s what makes this kind of a big deal: men’s bodies have historically been the standard, and menstruation has been viewed as something to be “fixed.” Radcliffe called for greater research on periods and performance and more options for female athletes.
Uta Pippig Won the Boston Marathon with Period Blood Pouring Down Her Leg
Uta Pippig, a German sprinter, won the Boston Marathon in 1996 with severe period cramps and blood running down her leg. It was so bad that TV cameras only captured her from the waist up. Even under these extreme circumstances, she became the champion, crushing world marathon record holder Tegla Loroupe.
Pippig was probably the first, but not the last, to bleed openly at a marathon. Kiran Gandhi, a runner in the 2015 London Marathon, let her period flow freely out of protest, not a necessity.
Pro Tennis Players Advocate for Allowances to Manage Their Periods
Pro Soccer Athletes Cycle Sync During Training
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, Broke Royal Protocol to Highlight Period Poverty
The monarchy has historically remained politically neutral. Still, the Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations of 2018 were marked by the presence of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, who campaigned to eliminate the stigma associated with menstruation and make menstrual products available to everyone. The Duchess has been rallying behind the issue since her acting days in "Suits."
Advocating period poverty as a Duchess is an unprecedented move. And while we believe [period poverty] is an issue anyone can rally behind, period taboo still remains, and Megan’s advocacy has sparked controversy.
Menstruation has been taboo in one form or another in all societies. Still, with famous and powerful people rallying behind normalizing menstruation, there is hope that it will become widely addressed in public forums and treated as a completely natural bodily process.
Did you know 1 in 5 teens in the U.S. misses school because of their period? Courtesy Cups is on a mission to donate one cup for every cup purchased locally. We not only invented the first portable menstrual cup sanitizer, but we’re committed to Changing the Cycle of period poverty through education and advocacy. Here's how you can get involved.