Being menstruating humans is bad ass, but it is also hard. We believe everyone should know about how their body works and not feel alone in their experience. Your Period Called's mission is to contribute to learning about, living in, and loving our bodies in ways that help us all, however we identify, to achieve happiness in ways that are meaningful to us.
This article is written in collaboration with Jennifer from My Period Called.
Who is behind @yourperiodcalled?
My name is Jennifer and I am the founder of Your Period Called. I’m originally from Montreal, Canada, and moved to Europe 3 years ago chasing big love and adventure.
What inspired you to create @yourperiodcalled?
I’ve always been really vocal about menstruation and talking about bodies. The inspiration for YPC itself, came from moments that intersected into one cramped up laugh at my kitchen counter.
As a young person I did a lot of work with kids and youth. We talked and played, I listened and learned, and as I got older, I found myself in a position to talk to them in ways that seemed to resonate with them. In ways that were without shame, a safe space for asking questions about sexuality, how their bodies would change or what menstruation was like, and how to feel more confident while their bodies were changing.
I got a master’s degree in early child studies where I learned about how growing up and how heavily childhood impacts us throughout adulthood. Childhood moments where a question posed receives an answer dipped in mockery or shame can have a very negative long term impact, even if it seemed insignificant or inconsequential to the other person at the time.
Uncomfortable questions might be felt by a young person as something to avoid in the future as a way to protect themselves from further shame or discomfort. Not getting answers or being belittled for asking a question can be incredibly harmful, both physically and emotionally to our developing selves with lasting impact.
Upon graduating, I started working at a women’s non-profit in Montreal not long after. It was here where I truly felt and saw the lack of information young people had about their bodies impacting both the health and confidence of young people. My team and I worked most directly with marginalized populations on the topics of sex and health ed, communication and consent.
We talked about menstruation and how harmful the social and cultural taboos around menstruation were, as well as how varied they were within different communities. In some schools, there would be no sexual health information available to students and the young people were locked up tight about discussing the taboo topic of how their bodies worked, but would giggle when you said ‘period’ wide-eyed and curious. The work we were doing was important to these young people because in many cases we were their primary resource to knowing how their bodies would change as they got older.
Fast forward a bit and I’m in Europe, cramped up over my kitchen counter laugh-crying to my partner about my uterus’s temper tantrum. I told him that when “your period called, it was like a ‘woo girl with a medieval club in your uterus’”. One meme later, Your Period Called was born.
As a company that started on Instagram, tell us, What's the importance of talking about menstruation on social media?
I deeply believe that talking about menstruation on social media is incredibly important because of the sheer reach no matter where you are.
While socials are generally overloaded with information of all sorts, a lot of it is distracting and not helpful. However, hearing and seeing people who are working toward a more equitable world is helpful in reducing the general stigma around topics like menstruation. Talking about menstruation on social media shows menstruators that they are not alone in their experience of menstruation; not alone in getting cramps, in having questions about bodies, in not identifying as female but bleeding, in questioning what is and what is not ‘normal’. For example, I didn’t get what discharge was until I was far too old, nevermind realizing that it had something to do with my cycle.
Do you think social media has helped break the period taboo?
YES! And I like to think that Your Period Called and RubyCup are playing a part in smashing period taboos. Five years ago there was nothing really about menstruation on social media feeds, this is not the case anymore. If you are aware of who you are following and ask yourself:
“who is this person and what are they trying to share?”
You can find treasure troves of genuinely helpful information on health! It’s amazing and free, but of course, should always be consumed with some critical thinking because you don’t actually know this person.
There are influencers and people we admire on socials talking about how their periods have influenced their life, from famous athletes like @ShalaneFlanegan red carpet trotters like @ChrissyTeigen and reporters like @TheChloeWilde. All of these moments of sharing help to reduce the stigma around menstruation. I can’t help but feel that initiatives like Ruby Cup have undoubtedly played a part in expanding the conversation around periods and related period products like menstrual cups or, period panties, and first period kits to a more normalized space.
Why do you think that natural content about menstruation is hidden on social media and often removed from the general feed?
I love this question and hate that this is a thing. The social media giants are definitely taking down menstruation content like menstrual blood or blood stains, but then leaving graphic images of violence. How is that not hypocritical? There’s a much larger pushback now as well, which I am excited to see.
What is the first step to break the period taboo?
Talking about it with each other and helping understand that half the world menstruates, something this beautiful and universal cannot be hidden behind doors or shamed to corners.
From your period stories, tell us something you have learned?
I’ve learned that most people start to forget their first period story! This monumental moment fades into the background of your personal stories and memories, you truly learn that getting your period isn’t a big deal. That said, I feel like it’s important to reflect on our personal milestones, like our first period, as we get older to help keep life and its obstacles in perspective.
My advice for someone getting their period for the first time, especially if you are anxious about it, is to read stories about it and talk to people you trust.
It’s a change in your body and there is no shame in growing and reaching that milestone.
As a society that is globally communicated through different social networks, we have the responsibility to share information that helps and benefits users and the planet.
Why do you think menstrual cups are the best option for the environment and the best for beginners?
Being environmentally responsible is something that is really important to me. While I am far from perfect, I was definitely an early adopter of things like menstrual cups and period underwear.
I’ve never been a huge fan of tampons and when cups hit the market I was super excited to try them but also nervous - wouldn’t it leak?! But once you get used to inserting them, there is nothing better than a cup. Up to 8 hours without needing to worry about changing your product and feel great knowing you are not contributing to the 500 years of degradation traditional plastic-filled one-use products cost the environment (Pallett, 2020).