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End period poverty!

by Lydia – 16th Oct 2018

Put simply, we deserve free periods. Tampons and pads aren’t a luxury, we need and RELY on them just to be able to live our normal everyday lives. The literal price we have to pay for simply having a uterus causes some of us to have to miss out on our deserved and needed education. One in ten teenage girls in the UK has, at some point, been unable to afford sanitary products*. This means having to rely on their friends or having to use alternatives to pads such as socks or other items of clothing. We need to smash the taboo of periods. We shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed and we shouldn’t have to pay VAT on products we NEED to be able to cope when we are on our period. Tampons aren’t a luxury. We aren’t treating ourselves, they’re needed. If we can go to our local doctors and pick up condoms for free on the NHS why can’t we do the same for sanitary products? Young women are massively struggling. It’s not fair.

End the Taboo through art

The purpose of my current art project is to bring light to the hidden crisis of period poverty. I want girls to realise the normality of periods. It happens once a month to every single woman you know and shouldn’t be a ‘dirty’ little secret. We’re constantly told by patronising packaging to be discreet and subtle- as if we need to hide the fact that we’re on our period. We should be able to walk to the toilets without awkwardly smuggling tampons and pads up our sleeves.

I want us to be able to wave them around without any shame or embarrassment. The shame should be put onto the tampon manufacturers who make ‘rustle free’ packaging, giving young girls the impression that periods shouldn’t be talked about and the people in the cubicle next to us shouldn’t know we’re on our period. In reality, who cares? If you have a uterus you have a period, it’s the most natural, normal occurrence ever. We need to smash the taboo.

How can we smash the taboo?

We need to ensure that young girls are able to talk about their period freely, whether that’s with their family, friends or their school teachers. Too many girls feel humiliated by their period, driving them to miss out on their education and their childhood. As a society we’re robbing girls of their childhood, making them feel ashamed or embarrassed. Keeping the taboo can cause social isolation and a feeling of humiliation. We can stop this by TALKING and normalising the topic of periods. It’s so simple to teach your children, your students, your friends that periods aren’t dirty just by talking about it and being open, therefore preventing any struggles for them later on.

Glitter and fabric

My art shows period products covered in glitter, standing out amongst transparent fabric. I want to create discussions about period poverty and to inspire people to reach out for help if they need it.

My aim is for young girls, especially, to realise the normality of periods and that every woman around them can relate to their own struggles, they’re never alone. I want society to reach a point where we won’t be judged by the decisions we make.

Kiran Gandhi ran the London marathon in 2015 on the first day of her period. To make herself more comfortable she didn’t wear any tampons or pads, she made a very inspiring point that we shouldn’t be shamed for being women, we should be able to make our own choices and not feel embarrassed by them. Your body is your own business and you can look after it however you want as long as you’re taking care of it. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.

Find out more about how to help.

*2017 study by Plan International UK

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  1. I’m currently making a documentary about tackling period poverty in Leeds for my university dissertation. Would be great to interview Lydia.

  2. This sounds great Lily – and Lydia says she is happy to help. I’ll email you about this now.
    Liz, MindMate team

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