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Practicing Self Love During the Holiday Season

By: Shellsea Lomeli

There are so many things about the holiday season that I absolutely love. Late-night drives while blasting my favorite Christmas songs, driving through the neighborhoods that deck their houses out in holiday lights, wearing matching pajamas with my family, and more. I love the feeling of joy, family, and friendship. However, holidays can also have some downsides. For me, this time of year tends to evoke feels of guilt in situations such as straying away from a diet, not being able to afford a certain gift for a certain friend, and not spending enough time with family. 

During situations like these, we can often start to feel bad and blame ourselves when, in reality, we should be practicing self-love instead. The holidays are all about spreading love and joy but sometimes we forget that we need to try and give those feelings ourselves too, not just our loved ones. 

In hopes of alleviating some of the guilt that the holidays can bring, I’ve written out a few reminders for myself and for anyone who needs it. 

1. Allow Yourself to Recharge

If you’re like me, the holiday season means having a million things to do with a limited time to do them. From holiday gift shopping to getting together with loved ones (covid-safe, of course), I always feel my energy running out during this time of the year. When my social battery – or just energy in general – runs out, I often find myself feeling bad for not dedicating enough time to my family and friends. Or for not completing the list of things I set out to accomplish that day. We often expect too much from ourselves which is why it is so important to take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself is NOTHING to feel guilty about. 

Some of my favorite ways to destress are painting, going on a solo car ride while blasting my favorite music, or watching a sappy movie on Netflix, and maybe even shedding a tear or two. 

2. Money Doesn’t Equal Love

As a college student, money is often tight. A part-time job that pays $13 an hour doesn’t necessarily allow for buying your friends the glamorous gifts you wish you could. And that’s okay! Expensive gifts are not the only way to show someone that you care about them even though our capitalist society likes to say otherwise. 

Try not to stress about money this holiday season. Your mental health will thank you. Instead of focusing on the price tag, focus on the meaning of the gift you’re gifting. Personally, my favorite type of present is something that is personal and thoughtful. I’d like to believe a lot of other people feel the same. 

I recommend checking out customizable sites like Shutterfly or VistaPrint. If you’re trying to support small businesses, check out Etsy which has a lot of personalized gifts to choose from. Last Christmas, I used Shutterfly to make a customized calendar for one of my best friends. Each month had a different theme and was decorated with pictures of our friends, inside jokes, her favorite music artists, and more. I had so much fun making it and she loved it. This gift brought so much joy to both of us and it costed almost nothing.

3. Enjoy the Holiday Food 

As someone who’s experienced body image issues for quite some time, this particular piece of advice is probably the hardest for me to execute. Holiday food is my favorite, especially during Thanksgiving, but I’ve often found myself either limiting what I eat or feeling incredibly guilty after a holiday meal. As much as we are told otherwise by a society that often values “skinny” over “fat”, eating IS self-care. Food fuels our bodies, our minds, and even provides pleasure. It’s a good thing, even if the meal you’re eating is characterized as “unhealthy”. So if you’re considering getting a second helping of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner and the only thing that is holding you back are the calories or grams of sugar of the food, eat the pie. Make your tastebuds happy. It’s okay! 

While you’re sending love to your friends and family this holiday season, remember to send love to yourself too. You are worthy of it. 

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An Identity Crisis With My Name

By: Ritobrita Mishra

I don’t remember when I first started to hate my name. When I started to hate the syllables, the sounds, and the look of it on paper. I don’t remember when my name became my enemy and when I permitted it to become so. When I allowed the first inherent part of my identity to slowly become something that I despised about myself. 

I remember vividly the day, at the tender age of four, when I first asked my mother what my name meant. This was after grasping the concept that a name is how one addresses another person. How it’s our first way of glimpsing one’s identity and individuality. I remember hearing her excitement in telling me my name and the meaning behind it. Ritobrita, a name that means encompassing the truth and being honest with one’s self. A name that holds different meanings at the roots and was given to me with love and adoration. A name that when I first heard was associated with my identity and individuality, stirred a combination of emotions inside me- content, delight, and excitement. 

I felt the beauty of my name for a short while before it became something else entirely to me. I felt my name was something that I could proudly showcase as it made me feel stronger and more connected to my heritage and culture. I felt there was a power to my name as it made me feel unique and otherworldly, both feelings that I would soon try to eradicate in the near future. Rather than embracing the core part of my identity in the coming years, I would soon find myself wanting to distance myself as much as possible from the name my mom so loved. The emotions of contentment and elation that were synonymous with hearing my name as well as the strength I found in displaying my name would soon vanish. Slowly becoming a part of me that I vehemently despised. 

When school became a part of my daily life, conforming became a lifeline that I clung to. My name was otherworldly and alien. Hearing my fellow peers and teachers try to pronounce the correct phonetic sounds created a barrier for me to be wholly accepted and belong. Thus introducing myself became a nightmare that I had to relive every single time as it was a reminder that I was different and separate. My relationship with the sounds and meaning of what my name meant became lost to me. I abhorred the uniqueness of the sounds and letters and I dismissed how the name was tied to my heritage. The times I was asked for a shorter version of my name or when my friends and teachers would instantly decide to call me a shorter version of my name, essentially manipulating it to suit their needs without my permission, became a daily occurrence. Yet I permitted their arrogance and laziness when it came to my name because I viewed it as acceptance. A chance for me to fit into a mold that I had no business ever conforming to. 

Names are powerful as it is the first introduction to one’s sense of self and identity. My yearning to assimilate drove me to allow people to dismiss my name. Allowing people to shorten my name or mispronounce it was a form of oppression I was allowing to inflict on myself that I never considered. Allowing myself to feel that my name itself was an inconvenience to the person I was introducing myself to was detrimental to my own sense of identity.  I felt that my name in and of itself was an inconvenience to those who knew me or wanted to know me. Yet the realization that I am not to blame for one’s inability to pronounce all the phonetic sounds associated with my name took me years to understand. The identity crisis that I fell into stemmed from not belonging as I let the fact that my name was “hard to pronounce” cloud my perspective and become the fundamental factor in why I should be ashamed of the name my mom gave me. 

In reclaiming my name, my identity took a lot of time but through a revelation of the amount of self depreciation I inflicted on myself, I’ve realized that the stress and anxiety was my own doing and that my name is what makes me who I am. Introducing myself is still a hassle but I don’t allow myself to feel embarrassed and to shy away from making it clear that one needs to pronounce my name fully and cannot shorten it for the sake of convenience. My identity starts with my name and it has taken me years to reclaim it, but embracing it openly has made me feel again the emotions that I first felt in hearing my name- content, delight, and excitement, as well as confidence in my identity that I was never allowed to feel growing up. 

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Vulnerability as a Vice

By: Sheyenne White

It was a humid night filled with ambivalence that paved the path for a profoundly sudden and striking realization. It was particularly late and I couldn’t sleep so I turned to Netflix to comfort me. Needless to say, I approached my quest for some quick entertainment in a distracted and inattentive manner. In my deep dive into Netflix’s extensive collection of movies and tv shows, I stumbled upon a a self declared fat lesbian Australian comedian named Hannah Gadsby. My curiosity was piqued but the little teaser clip is what hooked me. The thirty second clip revealed her epiphany that “self deprecation is not humility but humiliation.” Her epiphany quickly became mine as it forced me to reflect on my own self destructive habits. To paint a picture, I was sitting on my bed dumbfounded as I came to the understanding that my at times overwhelming insecurities are tied to my struggles with vulnerability.

Vulnerability has long been associated with femininity, weakness, and dependency. Considering that I proudly identify as an intersectional feminist, I think this reductive negative view of vulnerability is bullshit. However, I have come to realize that my disdain for the current dualist nature of vulnerability—one that positions vulnerability in opposition to invulnerability—has allowed me to create a dangerous dichotomy between vulnerability and strength.  It is by my very own contempt for arbitrary gender associations that I fell into the trap of a “together woman” and demonized vulnerability in the process. A “together woman” is defined as one who presents themselves with poise, dignity, and most importantly competence. It must be noted that these traits cannot always be conveyed organically and one’s unwillingness to accept that allows one to construct a facade. The comfort behind the facade pushes one to concoct a mask, with the purpose of concealing internal uncertainties and apprehensions from the outside world in fear that such inner turmoil will be dismissed as mediocrity. The irony lies in the fact that this style of thinking directly aligns with gendered loopholes and reinforces the same gender stereotype I was grappling with in the first place.

Nonetheless, I believe this contradiction of mine is more universal than what I imagined. The struggle to find a place for vulnerability within contemporary feminist thought can be traced back to the patriarchal aggressive binary frame that dictates gender norms; a framework that equates vulnerability with a susceptibility to harm and instead promotes invulnerability. However, invulnerability fosters an unhealthy desire for control and security so as to mitigate unpredictable and threatening events. On the contrary, vulnerability forces one to unveil their insecurities and risk emotional exposure. Simply put, the fear of vulnerability is a reflection of one’s fears surrounding themselves. Until we own our truth and embrace our individuality, we will be stuck in a perpetual cycle of subconscious self-loathing. I am a person who thrives on projecting the illusion that I have it all together, and being vulnerable means revealing that I actually… don’t. The walls I have built to protect myself from the instability of life has curbed my ability to devote myself to authenticity and accept my humanity.

After all, humanity is inherently rendered vulnerable and therefore vulnerability paints the true contours of recognition for the individual. With this in mind, the pursuit of invulnerability is illogical to say the least and we must learn to embody vulnerability. Ultimately, only a more comprehensive, nuanced and nonreductive concept of vulnerability can combat obsolete gender associations. It may seem strange that this epiphany of mine came from a Netflix comedy special but I’ll forever be thankful for Hannah Gadsby’s reminder that the incompatibility between vulnerability and strength is nothing but a myth.

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On Being Honest About Being Fat

By: Simar Dhaliwal

Right before I started high school, my family and I moved from India to America. The first thing I noticed when I walked on to the concrete that would support my footsteps for the next four years was how much everyone resembled barbies. With their straight hair, straight bodies, and defined thigh gaps, I felt shame and fear and insecurity because I looked so different. The second thing I remember doing is bursting into tears and frantically texting my older sister to regain some semblance of control over myself. I had never experienced feeling so uncomfortable before and it didn’t take me long to understand why. I hated my body, and I despised it so much that I couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror because all I saw was inadequacy. I remember feeling very anxious about walking in front of people, and this included being called on in class, getting something from the front of the class and going to the bathroom. I had severe anxiety about being late to class because it meant walking in and having people look at you. I unconsciously began the habit of hunching to avoid attention and crossing my arms over my stomach in hopes that it would hold me together. My only goal before starting high school had been to achieve straight A’s, but here I found myself in class unable to move, let alone focus on anything apart from the way I looked. 

I sought acceptance and peace from the internet, and instead, I received the message that my feelings were expected because I was not good enough as I looked but I could be good enough if I changed how I looked. I read articles and articles on ways to lose weight, to be healthier, to look your best, to decrease the amount of food consumed, to hide body fat, what to avoid when trying to lose weight, ten exercises that guarantee weight loss, and so on. 

My mother began to monitor my meals closely but my family never realized the full extent of my starvation. My parents tried to tell me that I didn’t need to lose so much weight, that they didn’t see anything wrong with me, but my eyes would roll over before they could finish a sentence and my legs would start walking away faster than they could say, “you’re beautiful just the way you are.” They noticed that I ate little, that I could list the calories in any item off the top of my head, that I was exercising frequently, but they didn’t know it all. They had no way of knowing that I would frantically chew gum whenever my stomach refused to stop growling, hoping against hope that my body would be tricked by the chewing into believing it was full. They didn’t know that I exercised off every single calorie that I consumed, that I overestimated the calories to fool myself into consuming less and exercising more. They didn’t see me at night, feeling my stomach, relishing in its flatness and reveling in the noise it made. They didn’t see me measuring my thighs with tape or marking the points on my body that I wanted to erase.

At school, I was terrified of someone seeing me eat and judging me or even worse, whispering to their friends about how I didn’t need more food. Looking back now, I know that I was projecting my thoughts onto others and that the possibility of these words being said was small. But at that time, paranoia and anxiety were my best friends because they helped indulge my disordered eating. I wish that even if people had noticed and judged me, I could have had the strength to choose my health over their fatphobia. 

Compliments, instead of bringing me validation, brought me close to tears. I wanted to believe them so much, but I could not see how anyone could honestly compliment the way I looked. What I did believe was that I was receiving this attention because of my lifestyle and I knew that I could never stop because finally, I was desirable. It didn’t matter that my eyes would be on the floor in front of mirrors, or that I heard the sound of my stomach growling more than I heard the sound of my laughter, or that I felt dizzy sometimes. I didn’t think that I had a problem, that starving myself to the point of consuming less than 500 calories a day was an issue. I looked at it as a lifestyle, a path that I had chosen. A path that got me results, made me look good to others, and feel worthwhile when it was noticed by other people. How was I supposed to find the words “Anorexia Nervosa” and “Body Dysmorphia” amidst so many articles filled with why I wasn’t good enough, or how I could change myself?

It took me years to stop the vicious cycle of starving my body and counting calories, and even longer to stop feeling guilt and shame around food. Once I was able to eat the way I truly wanted and needed to, I gained back all the weight and then some. For years, my sisters and my best friend had told me to embrace myself. But it wasn’t their words that helped me heal. It was the body positive models, and fat models, and body neutrality models who helped me face my fears. If these people had never taken the step towards talking about their experiences, and their journeys, and if they hadn’t dared to pursue their dreams in a world that actively works against fat people, then I probably would never have seen what I could become. This is why representation is so important. Them refusing to put limits on who they could be because of their bodies showed me how I didn’t need to either. It wasn’t as instantaneous as it sounds, but the work it took to unlearn everything I thought was right was worth it. Ironically, I used to be horrifyingly paranoid that someone would see me following a fat person on Instagram and assume I did so because I was fat, and now those very models are the reason why I feel so deeply and completely whole in any size.

However, despite making so many steps in the right direction, I was still struggling. I had forced myself to conform to society’s standards of beauty by making them my own, reveled in my success, only to realize my mistake and work my way back to health. But still, what other people thought of me mattered to me more than my need to take care of myself. And yet, how could I have thought any differently when the people around me made sure to express their discomfort with my weight. 

One summer in high school, we went to India for two months. While visiting my aunt and cousin, along with being put on a diet, I was forced to go to the “best” dermatologist in the area for my offensive acne. The last time my cousin and aunt had seen me was amid the eating disorder and so the contrast between what they approved of and what I looked like now was enormous. I had had acne then too, but it had spread as it does as you grow into your teens. My cousin accompanied me to the appointment because she knew the dermatologist and spoke highly of him. This esteemed dermatologist weighed me, a highly humiliating experience in front of my fatphobic, diet encouraging, disordered eating cousin, and turned to her and told her to make me sweep and mop the floors every day because by doing so I would lose weight and my acne would disappear. If this respected dermatologist had bothered to have a proper, confidential appointment with me, he would have learned about how bad my sleep quality was, how I knew nothing about skincare, and how much stress I was dealing with to succeed academically where I hadn’t before. Acne is frequently caused by stress and hormonal imbalances, and therefore these questions should be imperative in skin evaluations. But, he only saw my weight. 

The year after that, while playing soccer with my family, my uncle, though on my team, kept up a steady stream of insults about my width, comparing me to a panda, until I was blocking goals blindly because of the tears in my eyes. Another year, one of my friends remarked that I shouldn’t attempt sitting on a bench lest it breaks from my weight. Last year, my boss’s receptionist commended how much weight I had lost from the last time she had seen me. I was shocked at the unprofessionalism and frankly, the audacity. I had lost weight because of depression, and for something born out of hopelessness and despair, to be complimented so proudly was almost too much to bear. These happenings, and so many others, reinforced to me again and again that my insecurities were real, that no matter where I was, no matter who I was as a person, no matter how hard I worked- the way my body looked was what mattered the most and I could never exist in peace as I was. 

All through the last few years, I have been constantly shamed for the way I looked. On social media, I presented the image of happiness, and in turn received validation, but in reality, it took everything in me to never show how destroyed I was by these taunts. I felt that I would emotionally burst at the seams at any moment, and as weird as it sounds- I was amazed at how much internal pain my body could endure. Many people know me to be outspoken but when it came to being bullied about how I looked, I had no voice. I was too emotionally battered to fight for the space that I took up in this world, and mostly I was afraid that if I showed them how much it affected me, I would have to defend why having fat on my body was okay. 

The problem is that fatphobia lives in all of us. My mom is my biggest inspiration for everything. She has taught me what it means to be confident and strong and loving. And yet, she is fatphobic. There have been countless times over the past few years when she has told me not to wear something because I “look fat in it”, or how I shouldn’t wear that because I have thick thighs. And yet, she is my strongest support system. Culturally and societally, what she says is both acceptable and expected. Despite the trauma that fatphobia has inflicted on me and so many others, I don’t believe that being fatphobic or acting on it inherently makes you a bad person. It’s just a belief that’s been fed to us repeatedly from nearly every avenue. It is so very important to look into your beliefs about being fat. It is so important to examine how you talk about fat, whether it be the fat on your body or someone else’s. For years I was scared that my fatphobia might have affected the way my younger sister thought about her body, and I was agonized by the realization that she might react the same way I had. Telling my story means laying my trauma and shame on the table for all to see, to show just one person that maybe their thoughts are leading them down a dark and unhealthy path, maybe their beliefs are born out of a toxic, ableist and fatphobic system, and maybe their actions cause deep-rooted trauma and pain. 

It was only after I recovered from the eating disorder that I realized just how much time, energy, and most of all, space it had taken up inside of me. After recovery, my fatphobic beliefs became crystal clear to me, as did the lens through which I had been peering at society. I realized how common fatphobia is, and how much trauma and bias almost every person carries with them. I realized how the idea of being fat is just another way for us to be distracted from what matters to each of us. For me, it meant not knowing who I was at my core. The core of who we are has nothing to do with the body we’re in and everything to do with how we use our minds. But if our minds are so focused on the idea of a body, on fitting a mold that doesn’t fit everyone, then we aren’t focusing on the important things that benefit us. Fatphobia is, directly and indirectly, to blame for people feeling insecure in who they are, and projecting those insecurities onto others, simply because the body they inhabit doesn’t fit a fake mold we’ve created. We don’t have access to our true selves when we’re obsessed with an idea of who we are supposed to be. Being thin does not equate to being healthy the same way that being fat does not either. Fat is not an insult, and nor is it a feeling (bloated is). It hurt me when taunted because of the cruelty and the connotations, but it is a body type just like any other. What your organs are doing inside of that is the business of the person whose body it is.

I don’t think this would be complete without acknowledging the privilege I have. I have privilege because I have not experienced the shaming and public ridicule that people who are fatter than me experience every single day. Along with that, I have not experienced the exclusion that they experience. Whether it be in ballet, or on planes, or in doctors’ offices. Whether it be in the line for food, or while exercising at the gym, or when being denied jobs because of the way you look. It may be while walking their pets, or at school, or enjoying in a pool. These are everyday occurrences for fat people, and my goal is for people who are impacted the most by these systems of oppression to be the center of advocacy. Especially plus size black women who are so often excluded from platforms of advocacy. It would not be fair of me to talk so much about my experiences without acknowledging this. 

This article is written in hopes that everyone’s existence can be respected equally. I have privilege as a cis-gendered woman because I am allowed the space to express my feelings without repercussions, but also because it is acceptable for a woman to be insecure about and obsessed with her weight. But it is not seen as “masculine” in today’s society for men to admit to that they are struggling or that they are insecure. Boys and men have eating disorders, they have insecurities, and they are frequently ridiculed for not looking a certain way. They are objectified when they fit society’s standards of beauty, and loudly rejected when they don’t. LGBTQIA+ people are marginalized on levels that straight, cis-gendered people are not and never will be, and when they are fat in today’s world, the consequences are usually direr. 

While people who are thin experience occasional shame for being skinny, they are not marginalized in society because of it. A doctor might encourage them to eat more and put them on a diet but the care and coverage they need will rarely be overlooked because of the way they look. They will rarely be denied jobs, or be shamed for lounging by a pool, or denied love because of their size. Their accomplishments will not be doubted, nor will their identity be whittled down to the way they look. Fat people’s very existence offends people. All pain is valid but some experiences are endured on a much wider, systemic scale. 

When I realized how powerful I was in any shape, it changed the way I viewed everything, but especially the way I carried myself. Confidence and self-worth are not size exclusive. Ultimately, you should be whatever size your body is. I wrote this article because I wish I had stumbled upon one like it before I forced my body into starvation. I wrote it for the people who instead of receiving water (from the internet, from friends, from family) to quench their thirst for acceptance, found poison disguised as nectar. This topic is so complicated, so entangled with opinions and stories and reasons that it felt almost impossible to articulate into words why your size should not make you any less worthy or any more worthy. All I know and believe is that separating your self worth from your weight, and adding self-love and confidence to whatever size you may be, can make this world less complicated, and so much more inclusive. Your body loves you and that is enough. 

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Cupping To The Chase: Menstrual Cup Musings

By: Lisa Lai

*This post is not sponsored.

Uncomfortable with a lumpy pad? Anxious about the whereabouts of your tampon up there? Tired of changing your menstrual product every couple of hours? Yeah, me too. That’s why I looked into some alternatives like period underwear, cloth pads, and– oh, this one caught my immediate attention– menstrual cups.

Menstrual cups have been circulating around since the 1930s but were not officially publicized until 1987, when The Keeper, made out of latex rubber, was introduced. Nowadays, though cups like The Keeper are still made from rubber, most cups are made of medical grade silicone for their flexibility, hypoallergenic, and hardwearing purposes. As such, they are reusable and have a life of about ten years before necessary replacement. Cups today are still relatively unknown, as they only tend to circulate around social media rather than on mainstream television. Pads and tampons, on the other hand, though they both have circulated around the same time as menstrual cups, have received more attention, as they are apparently easier to sell because of their disposability. Fun fact: In 1985, Courtney Cox made history as she uttered the word “period” for the first time on national television, making her partnership with Tampax the first recognized period commercial. How cool is that? Crossing my fingers that history can be changed again with a widely publicized menstrual cup commercial! Just saying. 

I’ve always been hesitant to try out a menstrual cup myself, just because “What if I can’t get it out?” and “What if I get an infection?” dominate my “But it is less trash” and “It saves me money” thoughts. Ultimately, I did some research and jotted down a quick pros-and-cons table for myself. If the pros outweigh my cons, I would get a menstrual cup.

My pros outweigh my cons 7-4. Okay, it looks like I’m getting a menstrual cup. But the cons…

It turns out I did not need to worry at all; there are many different solutions, as outlined in a Menstrual Cup FAQ:

The Menstrual Cup Quiz By Put A Cup In It: https://putacupinit.com/quiz/ | Me Luna: https://meluna-usa.com/ | Lunette’s Cupwipes: https://store.lunette.com/products/lunette-cupwipes

And for those who are allergic to latex or silicone, there are cups that are made of natural rubber like The Keeper, as well as some made of Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE), which do not contain silicone, rubber, latex, Bisphenols (BPA/BPS), or heavy metals, like The Hello Cup, that you will still be able to use safely and comfortably.

Another concern regarding the insertion of menstrual cups is how it affects virginity. Cups in fact do not affect virginity, as virginity can only be lost during sex. That said however, menstrual cups can “break” or stretch the hymen, which is still sometimes thought to be a physical, valid indication of virginity. In truth, the hymen does not prove sexual activity or the “innocence” and “purity” of someone with a vagina– Healthline sets this myth about hymens straight in their article here. Menstrual cups are just one of the many ways that hymens might stretch, just like dancing, riding a bike, or using a tampon. And just like using a tampon as another tool to care for your reproductive health, menstrual cups, in short, will not “pop your cherry.” Feel free to refer to Rubycup’s article about virginity and menstrual cups for more information.

Now, the next question in my cup quest is… which cup do I choose? 

I took The Menstrual Cup Quiz and I was offered the Lunette Period Cup. I haven’t ever heard of this brand before; in fact, up until I decided to try a menstrual cup, I had only heard of The DivaCup on social media. This led me to ask: Why aren’t menstrual cups, or even other period products for that matter, advertised openly in the mainstream?

A representative of Lunette had this to say: “With a taboo product […] it pays to hold [advertising] back a bit because otherwise you could be shot down.” This does not sit well with me– why would periods– something completely natural, something we have no control over– and period collection methods be silenced? We have no control over our bodily fluids, yet we are taught to hide it, as if by hiding it, what naturally flows out of us would disappear or go away. Maia Schwartz sums it up nicely: “Menstrual blood is the only blood which isn’t born out of violence, yet it is the only one that disgusts you the most.”

There is significant harm in this culture of stigma around periods. Firstly and most obviously, many young menstruators, especially those experiencing periods for the first time, will not only be unsure of how to manage their menstruation, but they also will not know what or who to turn to for help– not everybody is comfortable with using the typical tampon or pad methods. My high school self definitely would have opted for other collection methods had I had then known about them. Along that same note, not everybody who menstruates is a woman. Because there is an assumption that folks who menstruate are (young) women– and it does not help that existing period advertisements frequently only show athletic women using pads or tampons– the talk about periods leave out some communities. There are, for instance, non-binary and transitioning people, as well as some men who menstruate and some women who do not. And then there are some communities that are neglected in their need for period products in the mainstream as well, like those incarcerated or in shelters. No matter which communities people belong to, silence around periods benefits no one. 

However, nowadays, there is more awareness about inclusivity for all menstruators; brands like UltuCup promote their gender neutrality, while advertisements (see Bodyform’s Blood Normal) have recently taken a turn for the realistic, using red liquid to not only educate and advertise, but to also redefine and revolutionize period culture. (What a vast difference from Cox’s 1985 commercial!) Shelters, clinics, and other non-profit organizations strive to uplift and advocate for marginalized communities needing period products. In fact, organizations like Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters have been instrumental in promoting menstrual equity and passing legislation that would allow menstruators in shelters access to menstrual products free of charge. Additionally, as more and more news circulate online, communities and websites have videos or interactive activities to help with things like locating and measuring your cervix, tracking your period and other discharge, or, like in my case, finding the ideal menstrual cup.

I remember I used to feel anxious hearing my pad ripping echo in a public bathroom. (“Are you eating chips in there?”) While I now am more comfortable with myself and talking about reproductive health in general, it is time for a new change for me and a Lunette seems to be the way to go. There’s something almost liberating in both talking unashamedly about periods and deciding to try out different period products. Thumbs up for menstrual cups! Or should I say–

Thumbs cup! 👍 👍 👍

👍

Additional Resources:

Choosing Your Menstrual Cup: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/menstrual-cup-comparison#1

Menstrual Cup Size Comparison Chart: https://putacupinit.com/chart/

Learn to Insert A Menstrual Cup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9fPUfm-uYE 

The Life Cycle of Your Menstrual Cup: Menstrual Cup FAQ (& Some Not So Frequently Asked Questions)

Using Inclusive Language: https://periodpositive.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/queeriods-lgbt-stem-poster-feb-2016.pdf