Yogi Stephanie Gongora recently shared a video to Instagram of herself bleeding through white pants while practicing yoga (which has currently been watched over 300,000 times and inspired almost 6,000 comments). Her motivation? Being fed up with suppressing her menstrual self. In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, Gongora said of her impromptu free-bleed:
“I was confident in my intent—to not feel ashamed of the blood seeping through my pants—and that made me confident in my actions.”
Gongora also backs up her actions with some pretty powerful observations about menstrual taboo, like how we have been socially conditioned to hide our menstruating bodies. She also nails the point home about menstrual rhetoric. The words we choose to describe our bodies will have either a positive or negative affect on our views of them. If we talk about menstruation being “dirty” and “gross,” we are going to see our menstruating bodies as “dirty” and “gross.”
Negative rhetoric leads to disassociation of our menstruating selves. We become embarrassed by them, go to great lengths to hide them, and may even *suppress menstruation altogether just so we don’t have to deal with it. Being comfortable in our menstruating bodies is considered subversive in today’s cultures. And one of the most shocking things you can do as a menstruator is be proud of it.
Gongora is a popular yogi on Instagram (with 270k followers) and she was inspired to post about her period after being approached by organic tampon company Cora to be an ambassador. Rather than shy away from her period blood in a modest post, as one might expect, she chose to embrace it, doing her part to undo the taboo. And we’re glad she did.
Here is Gongora’s full post:
I am a woman, therefore, I bleed. . It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s terrible, & it’s beautiful. . And yet, you wouldn’t know. Because I hide it. . I bury things at the bottom of the trash. I breathe, ragged and awkward through the cramps, all the while holding onto this tight lipped, painted on smile. . Tampons? What are those. We don’t say those words out loud. Hide them. In the back pocket of your purse, in the corner of the bathroom drawer, at the very bottom of your shopping cart (please let me get a female cashier). . Events or engagements get missed. I’ll tell myself it’s the PMS, sure, but it has more to with the risk of being “caught,” at what…I’m not quite sure. . And I’m lucky. . Over 100 million young women around the globe miss school or work for lack of adequate menstrual supplies, & fear of what might happen if the world witnesses A NATURAL BODILY FUNCTION. . WHY? . Because hundreds of years of culture have made us embarrassed to bleed. Have left us feeling dirty and ashamed. . STOP PRETENDING. Stop using silly pet names like Aunt Flo because you’re too afraid to say “I’m bleeding” or “vagina.” Stop wasting so much effort hiding the very thing that gives this species continuity. . START talking about it. Educate your daughters. Make them understand that it can be both an inconvenience and a gift, but NEVER something to be ashamed about. Educate your sons so they don’t recoil from the word tampon. So when a girl bleeds through her khaki shorts in third period (pun intended), they don’t perpetuate the cycle of shame and intolerance. . This #StartSomethingSunday , I want to highlight @corawomen . . Cora Women is a 100% Organic tampon company. . But that’s not all. They are also breaking barriers. Making it ok to talk about periods, even on social media. Providing personalized, delivered tampon/pad orders right to your door. AND for every box purchased, donating a box of sustainable pads to girls who can’t afford menstruation products. . Fuck yeah. That’s the kind of stuff I can galvanize behind, no money or even product needed. Just a mission I support on a topic we should ALL be talking about. . More ⬇️
*To be clear, we understand that many women choose menstrual suppression to manage severely painful or harmfully heavy periods. We support the freedom of informed choice.
Amy Sutherland is a period-positive advocate, educator and writer. She prefers tackling topics like reproductive health, fertility, sexuality, feminism, social justice issues and all those tricky subjects you avoid talking about at family gatherings. Amy holds a Master’s Degree in Women’s Health as well as a Graduate Certificate in Holistic Health Studies. Read her full bio here.