A woman has blogged about her experience running the London Marathon for the first time, while on her period and choosing not to wear a tampon.
Kiran Gandhi - Harvard graduate, part-time drummer for M.I.A and all-round punk rock queen - made the decision just hours before running the 26.2 mile behemoth, as a statement about the way we attempt to conceal and deny the very existence of menstruation.
“If there’s one person society can’t eff with, it’s a marathon runner. You can’t tell a marathoner to clean themselves up, or to prioritize the comfort of others. On the marathon course, I could choose whether or not I wanted to participate in this norm of shaming,” she wrote in a blog post entitled, ‘Going With The Flow’.
“I decided to just take some midol, hope I wouldn’t cramp, bleed freely and just run. A marathon in itself is a centuries old symbolic act. Why not use it as a means to draw light to my sisters who don’t have access to tampons and, despite cramping and pain, hide it away like it doesn’t exist?”
Gandhi quoted some powerful statistics in her blog post about access (or lack of) to feminine hygiene products around the world – like how 66 per cent of African girls know nothing about menstruation until they get their first period. Or how only 12 per cent of women in India use tampons or pads.
Turns out that when you’re pushing your body to its absolute limits, whether or not you bleed through your jogging bottoms really isn’t that big a deal.
“And as we come up on mile 9 I saw my dad and brother. They were so completely amazing, smiling and laughing and cheering. I kept trying to awkwardly pull my shirt down to my knees so they wouldn’t see that I was bleeding. But as I approached them, I realised they just wanted to scream and hug and take a photo and celebrate together.”
Not only did Gandhi finish the epic race, she scored major cool points for sticking two fingers up to societal norms that constrict women every damn day.