Underwear Label Dear Kate Asks A Bunch Of Women To Talk About Their “First Time”

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It’s one of the most awkward time in a young woman’s life: getting her period. Yep, we’re talking about THAT first time, not the other one. It is the universal private sign that as a girl you are now becoming a woman, or at least your body tells you it is ready for womanly things.

And although we live in a time when women have many freedoms and aren’t oppressed socially in the same way others before us were (at least in the developed world) menstruation is still talked about in a very awkward manner.

Men think it’s gross. Women are stereotyped as hormonal and crazy during that time of the month. Comedians love to make jokes about something that is a natural bodily function. And girls are taught to hide it away and be discreet about their periods.

Why? What would happen if we talked more openly about it and decided not to make girls feel like they are dirty or doing something wrong when they are on their period?

Underwear label Dear Kate, who have successfully launched a handful of campaigns positioning themselves as a brand that empower women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, want to break down that existing stigma in a new campaign called ‘First Time’.

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The video starts off with a group of diverse women talking about how they remember getting their period. Tales of awkwardness, of it happening during school, of not being prepared with the right information, and feeling uncomfortable about it are heard.

There is this sense of reinforcing how our society makes women feel like they need to be ashamed in some way. One woman said she was sad when she got her period because it meant she had to be a “woman” and wasn’t a kid anymore, and other says she didn’t want to get her period and wanted to be like a boy.

“Even now I still hate my period, but it’s a part of me,” says one woman while managing to laugh it off.

Of course there are a few positive stories mixed in with the negative: one young woman says her friends made her a “first time” cake, another says her dad high-fived her to congratulate her on becoming a fully bloomed woman. It is an interesting array of voices and stories, and it comes at a timely point in the greater conversation about periods.

Just recently, the viral images taken by artist Rupi Kaur caused a huge stir because of their subject matter. She posted a series of images to her Tumblr page, called “Period”. The images show a girl in bed with a period stain on the back of her pants, and in various other postures where the blood is visible as are images that literally every girl who has her period can relate to. I.e, half the population of the world does what is seen in Rupi’s series. Yet when she uploaded this image to Instagram, it was controversially removed:

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“I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether I choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. In older civilizations this blood was considered holy. In some it still is. But a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. The sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty. Attention seeking. Sick. A burden. As if this process is less natural than breathing. As if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. As if this process is not love. Labor. Life. Selfless and strikingly beautiful,” she writes about the images on her Tumblr.

When Rupi challenged Instagram for removing it as it does not violate their specific terms of use, she received an apology and was allowed to post the photo again. This is what she wrote:

“Thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. The girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. It is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines I will repost it again. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. Pornified. And treated less than human.”

She pointed out something that has simply been allowed to exist for far too long, and it is time women stood together to collectively stop the stigmatization of a normal part of a woman’s life.

Our friends at Women You Should Know pointed out that Rupi’s images being taken down are extremely hypocritical, especially when the same week AMC’s Instagram account was allowed to post this bloody image to promote The Walking Dead Finale.

AMC-Walking-Dead-Finale-promo

Bust magazine has also asked the question “Why does menstruation make us so uncomfortable?” in a piece about Sangre Menstrual, a Spanish performance group, took to the streets wearing white pants and shorts stained with menstrual blood in support of their “Manifesto for the Visibility of the Period.”

They wrote the manifesto to point out that, by attempting to hide our periods, a perfectly natural bodily function, we are participating in the patriarchal system and effectively punishing ourselves for being women.

Bust also included Gloria Steinem’s short essay titled ‘If Men Could Menstruate’ to point out how a lot of the awkwardness and stigma comes from systemic oppression, not just our own feelings toward periods.

Sangre-Menstrual

“If suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not…clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much.  Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day… Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“men-struation”) as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy high political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests, ministers, God Himself (“He gave this blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean”)… TV shows would treat the subject openly…Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments,” writes Gloria.

It is food for thought. There is NO reason for any woman to feel ashamed about getting her period. It shouldn’t make her sad, or feel shunned by society in any way. Crampy, bloated and tired, yes, but not dirty or gross.

Thank you Dear Kate for make this light-hearted video about periods to show there is not big freaking deal about it.

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