For some women, menstruating in public without a tampon is a worst-nightmare scenario. But one athlete and musician turned period stigma into a political statement and a source of pride.
Kiran Gandhi, a drummer who has performed with M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, ran the entire London marathon last April bleeding freely to show solidarity with women who don’t have access to menstrual products like pads and tampons.
"I got my flow the night before and it was a total disaster but I didn’t want to clean it up,” she wrote on her website. "It would have been way too uncomfortable to worry about a tampon for 26.2 miles. I thought, if there’s one person society won’t f--k with, it’s a marathon runner. If there’s one way to transcend oppression, it’s to run a marathon in whatever way you want."
Gandhi added, “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 like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day. The marathon was radical and absurd and bloody in ways I couldn’t have imagined until the day of the race."
The 26-year-old musician finished the race in four hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds. After she’d finished, she proudly posed for photos with her friends, period stain and all. How’s that for beating stigma?