Whether you're the kind of woman who doesn't let your monthly period stop you from living your life or the kind who prefers to snuggle beneath a blanket for five days because you deal with horrible cramps, headaches, fatigue and other annoying side effects, chances are you'll be amazed when you hear what Kiran Gandhi recently did when she had her period.
The 26-year-old musician reportedly ran the London Marathon without a tampon because, she told BuzzFeed News, she wants to end "period-shaming," which she describes as "When you — as someone who is experiencing the bleeding — have to make somebody else comfortable before yourself."
Gandhi, who plays drums for M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, went on to say:
But it was also the fact I had to think about what other people would think of me that helped me make the decision. You shouldn’t have to worry about how you look for others on a marathon course. To me, that shed light on the fact there is no global conversation about periods.
But comfort isn't the only reason Gandhi — who got her period the night before the race — made the decision to ditch her tampon. The Harvard Business School graduate is also trying to draw attention to the fact that many women around the world do not have access to sanitary napkins and tampons and are forced to deal with their menstrual cycles in a way that would seem ludicrous to many in the West.
She told People magazine:
I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don't have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend it doesn't exist.
In small villages and towns in places like Senegal, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, it's almost impossible to find tampons (with or without applicators), pantyliners, or maxi pads. Closer to home, homeless women in America struggle every time they get their periods because they can't afford protection and are forced to deal with the embarrassing consequences of bleeding through clothing that they then can't easily clean.
I applaud Gandhi's bravery and feminist stand. Having our periods is nothing to be ashamed about — but I feel it's also a woman's right, whether she is wealthy or living in poverty, to have access to sanitary napkins and tampons for the sake of her own comfort. With more and more women talking about their periods on social media, my hope is that young women grow up feeling absolutely zero shame about the beautiful thing their bodies allow them to do, should they choose to one day have children.
Running a marathon with your period (and without a tampon) makes a significant statement: Life doesn't stop because my body is doing what it is meant to do.
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