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Period leaks in public: Breaking the taboo

Red acrylic background to represent period blood

On the other side of the pond this week, a Woman in Georgia claimed she was fired for period leakage.

According to sources, It’s alleged the woman was fired for ‘for being unable to control the heavy menstruation and soiling herself and company property.’ If this is the case, then excuse me whilst I pick my jaw up from the floor.

Stories such as these, make you think. It brings to light the taboo surrounding periods.  A topic we (at TOTM HQ) often discuss, due to its prevalence all over the world.

A feeling of humiliation

Period leaks can sometimes be difficult to avoid; your period might catch you unaware or you might have a heavy flow. Alternatively, it might be due to pre-menopause symptoms (as was the case with the women who lost her job). Reading between the lines, it can happen to any of us, at any time.

In these moments, how do you feel? Panicked? Embarrassed? I am sure these are common feelings. But, you haven’t done anything wrong or embarrassing. Your period is natural so why do we feel this way?

Fear of the red stain

Menstrual blood is not dirty or disgusting. Yet a red stain on the back of a pair of trousers or a skirt is often met with a negative reaction. The wearer has got their period and has perhaps had an incident. It’s not a big deal in theory. It’s the reaction of others that often fuels the wearer’s embarrassment.

I’m not saying every reaction is as extreme as the alleged reaction from the employer mentioned in the news article above. But even a slight giggle or wide-eyed stare can have a negative impact. It sends a message that periods are embarrassing and we should hide them away. Like it’s a dirty little secret.

In an ideal world free from period taboos and menstrual shaming, nobody would bat an eyelid. We would just accept the ‘red stain’ for what it is – a minor period related mishap.

Does this make you think?

It might be something you have never thought about before. It’s easy to be conditioned by a view in society. I’m not saying this view is going to make you want to go around free-bleeding. But, if you do have accidental leakage on your period when in a public place, remember it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

On the other side of this, if you see a friend, colleague or passer-by in the street has had a period leakage incident, I challenge you to show support. I mention this because It makes me recall a story my friend told me. She told about a time she suffered a period leak in high school. Her period caught her off guard, and she bled through her trousers onto the classroom chair. The support from her friend helped her manage the situation. The friend went to the toilet to get a tissue and offered reassurance that it was nothing to be embarrassed about.

This positive and genuinely helpful reaction is what we should expect in situations such as these. Laughter or shameful looks are not welcome. It makes me think of the internet trolls who attacked Madison Beer after photos of period leakage in her white bikini. An unfair response that she shot down with the following words – “I have my period – I am human.”

Let’s take a leaf from Madison and shut down the haters. If it happens, it happens. You do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

We would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think of period shaming incidents such as these? Can you recall a time you had a period leak incident and faced a negative reaction? Call it out in the comments below or tweet us @totmorganic.

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