While there is always a long way to go, the political climate and general upheaval of the last 12 months didn’t necessarily look like an environment in which progression was likely, but low and behold change, and positive change at that, seems to have continued to fight its way through.
We have moved into the era of ‘menstrual realness’ for one, inspired by Kiran Gandhi who chose to skip pads, tampons, or anything else whilst running the 2015 London Marathon, resulting in a photo that immediately went viral. The move sparked an openness about menstruation and the taboo that surrounds them, gradually leading to less embarrassment and more conversation around the topic.
“This is so wild that this is a big deal to some people… Girls get their periods.”
Famously this year, Justin Bieber’s protege Madison Beer spoke out when photographed with a period stain on her swimming costume, saying: “This is so wild that this is a big deal to some people… Girls get their periods. Girls sometimes bleed thru tampons because periods can be extremely unpredictable! If you’re saying it’s gross, uncleanly, etc etc u should probs get your head outta your ass and focus on bigger damn issues other than someone having a period stain. I am not a robot. I am a female. I am a human and I am proud.”
In 2016 female voters in the States protested the fact that tampons and pads were getting taxed as “luxury products”, and of 40 states that had such taxes at the start of 2016, many have since voted to repeal them. Meanwhile, the conversation has extended to safer sanitary products, and charities providing free sanitary products to girls in the UK who can’t afford them have made headlines, particularly highlighting the number of girls who skip school out of anxiety over the problem. The topic reached fever pitch in March 2017 and has continued to be at the top of discussion agendas.
“As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma”
Adding to the ‘real’ conversation, Bodyform have also created the first sanitary towel advert featuring ‘real’ blood instead of blue dye. “As a leader in feminine hygiene, we want to change this by challenging the taboo and ultimately removing the stigma, making it even easier for anyone to talk about periods, now and in the future” said Traci Baxter, marketing manager at Bodyform.
In short, the discussion around menstrual cycles has worked to remove the so called shame around periods – a fundamental part of being a woman. As Well+Good Wellness Council member Alisa Vitti, a women’s hormone expert, said: our culture “would have us believe that cravings, cramps, and out-of-control emotions are inevitable parts of womanhood,” she says. “I’m here to tell you: It’s just not true.”
“[Our culture] would have us believe that cravings, cramps, and out-of-control emotions are inevitable parts of womanhood”
Meanwhile, the #metoo hashtag has taken the world by storm. Following tangible fury after the public revelations about Harvey Weinstein, the volume of women who have taken to every conceivable platform to highlight the breadth of the problem when it comes to the way women are treated in a so called civilised society has been overwhelming. Many women have felt supported and emboldened by the assurance that they have a collective force around them, and that is an empowering change. Whatever your personal take on the campaign, it is hard to deny that it has been a wonderful opportunity for women to speak up for themselves and highlight the social inequalities that still abound.
At Spabreaks.com wellbeing and equality are always at the centre of our focus, and these surrounding developments are a signifier that while change is still needed, there are people working hard to make it happen.
For those of us who spend so much time putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time, 2016 taught us that we could be a #nastywoman but 2017 has made big strides into the realms of simply being real.
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