This 28th of May is World Menstrual Hygiene Day! A day that celebrates a mission we at Here We Flo are truly madly deeply passionate about: making people feel crazy confident and empowered through their periods, by breaking taboos and smashing the stigma and embarrassment associated with them in public and private spaces alike.
To mark this bloody joyous occasion (we tried really hard not to steal a pun from our amazing charity partners, Bloody Good Period, but oh well), we thought it would be helpful to discuss a lesson we can all draw from World Menstrual Hygiene Day!
In April 2022, 6 months after they reached out to our team to get an input into the conversation, Boots announced that it was changing its ‘Feminine Hygiene’ aisle to the clear, effective and gender inclusive ‘Period Care’. So we can’t help but feel a little bit proud that, little by little, companies like us and retailers like Boots are contributing to bringing some long needed conversations around periods into the spotlight!
When asked what we thought about this, our team had 2 big reasons for which ‘Feminine Hygiene’ had to go. The first was around gender, which we already discussed in our blog a while ago: not everyone who menstruates is a woman, not every woman menstruates. Talking about periods in an inclusive, intersectional way ensures that, when companies make decisions about period products or legislators create laws to address periods in the workplace, or medical professionals draw conclusions around our reproductive health, trans people and non-binary folks are not excluded from those products, laws or research, because nothing in the world works on a one-size-fits-all basis - it’s as simple as that.
The second reason we addressed this so passionately is to do with ‘Hygiene’. Words matter and, in this case, the wording implies - no, yells - that periods are unhygienic and that we’re dirty when we’re experiencing a period. If we think about it, periods aren’t any more unhygienic or unsanitary than any other bodily function. And yet, of all the bodily messes we deal with as humans on a daily basis, periods are the only ones described so explicitly in relation to sanitation and hygiene. This only increases the stigma that periods are dirty and something to be ashamed of, setting us back in the honest and helpful conversations we need about menstrual health in a way that includes and educates everybody, not just those who experience periods and have a direct need for that knowledge.
That being said, if we can all agree that we should be talking about ‘Menstrual Health’ not ‘Hygiene’, it is also worth remembering that the 28th of May is not only for and about privileged women and menstruators on the internet giving their opinions on what words we should be using for periods, when the reality is that so many countries in the world lack access to water and basic sanitation facilities to properly care for their periods in the same way we do. Words without action, without support, without activism are just words. So, today and every day, we should be educating ourselves, our friends, our families and each other not just about period taboos or menstrual stigma, but also about period poverty and period inequity world-wide, and committing to 1 small action that can support the communities who need it most. Whether that’s sponsoring a period, signing a petition or joining in a mission, you too can be a part of the change towards a fairer world where everyone can period with dignity!