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Menstrual metaphors have been turned into an ingenious art exhibition

Is it that time of the month? Has the crimson tide rolled in? Is Aunt Flow paying you a visit?

There’s some social discomfort when it comes to talking about menstrual blood, periods, PMS and monthly bleeding, which has led to some pretty interesting menstrual metaphors becoming part of our everyday vernacular.

Often people don’t say things like “I have my period,” but “a friend has come to visit” or even “mother nature’s monthly gift has arrived.” Which actually sounds more gross than just stating the facts, really.

More: The Mamafesto: Menstruation shaming has to end. Period.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage us all to call a period what it is, and also see it as a wonderful opportunity for women to take a deep breath, move at a slower pace and have an excuse not to wear white pants. Because unless you’re a sailor, that’s probably not a good idea anyway. Just saying.

An art exhibition being put on at the Enough Gallery in Melbourne, with the delightful title, “Shark Week” (spoiler — it’s got nothing to do with sharks), is shedding some light on the topic and questioning why we can’t call a period what it is.

Monsoon Season
Image: Enough Gallery

“Over the years we’ve conjured up so many euphemisms to allude to menstruation without actually saying the words ‘I have my period,'” the exhibition events page says. “Most of them are so hilariously unrelated to periods it’s not funny.”

Women can expect to have around 450 periods in their lifetime; it’s something so incredibly common, yet it’s still considered such a taboo.

Having a period is a sign of good health, fertility and youth; it should be celebrated and appreciated, not hidden under the guise of a misnomer metaphor like “riding a cotton pony.” Seriously, just stop.

Menstruation art exhibition
Image: Enough Gallery

But having a period isn’t such a positive experience for everyone. Women in some of the poorest countries in the world, such as Sierra Leon, have to rely on pieces of paper, sponges and even bark to absorb the monthly blood flow.

More: 6 Things you should be doing different on your period

The exhibition has been organised by a company called Tsuno, which sells sanitary pads and donates 50 per cent of its profit to charities that empower women around the world.

“Imagine managing your period with bark or missing 39 days of school every year. That’s not ok. Millions of women and girls around the world face this reality every month, and we want to change that,” entrepreneur and organiser Roz Campbell says.

The idea for the exhibition was sparked when Campbell was told one of the most ridiculous menstrual metaphors she’d ever heard: “I’m having my garage painted.”

Not only does that make no sense at all, it just proves that we have got to start using real words to explain a very common experience many women have each and every month. It’s time to get real about how we talk about periods. Period.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, Jan. 31. Be sure to check it out if you’re in Melbourne.

What metaphors have you used to describe your period? Let us know.

More: 6 Reasons to love your period (yes, seriously)

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