I’m writing this for all of the little girls who will get their period for the first time and will feel ashamed and like they have to hide it.
I’m writing this for the women who feel too grossed out to touch their own blood — to touch something that nurtures a baby, to touch something so primal and precious.
I’m writing this for every single person who rejects their own body, their own humanness.
And I’m writing it, mostly, for the women who already secretly embrace their blood. You are beautiful, and we are here, and we are important.
A few days ago, a woman in the UK found my Instagram. She saw I had been posting photos with my menstrual blood on my face for the better part of the last year, and she asked if she could write an article about it.
I said, “Sure.”
Fast forward, and I have been shared all over the Internet. The Sun, Barstool, UNILAD, publications in other languages. I don’t know where else, because I haven’t looked.
People have compiled my videos and my photos and removed my words and shared them everywhere, saying, “Look how disgusting and insane this girl is.”
I’ve received thousands of comments and hundreds of DMs. Thousands of new followers.
Most of the comments are people lashing out to let me know that I am disgusting, that I need mental help, and that I do not deserve to live.
“Nasty bitch,” one message reads from another woman. “You need Jesus. You are nasty.”
My boyfriend and my friends have been targeted, too. “How can you hang out with this girl? Don’t you know she is gross?”
Apparently, a woman putting her own blood on her own face elicits violence in other people.
I grew up being simultaneously fascinated and embarrassed by my period. I put tampons up my sleeve when I went to the bathroom at school, I took pride in “sucking it up” and playing sports when I had it, and mostly, I didn’t think about it all that much.
I got a copper IUD put in at age 20, because there’s no safe method of birth control for women, and that seemed to be the healthiest option.
The IUD made my periods incredibly heavy and painful. I couldn’t leave bed for days when I had it.
The intense pain inspired me to search out natural remedies — and that’s when I started tracking my cycle, using herbs to help relieve the pain, and using a menstrual cup.
I accidentally pulled the IUD partially out when using the cup, and I had to get it taken all the way out, by a male doctor who seemed oblivious to the blinding pain I was in.
Once it was out, I decided not to get it put back in — clearly my body did not enjoy it.
That was over five years ago, and my periods are still painful. I have symptoms of endometriosis.
And, I’m a sex coach. I constantly hear from women how much they hate their bodies, how much they cannot speak about their periods, how much their bodies were shamed growing up, how much they find their own bodies disgusting.
I’ve spent the last seven years of my life learning how to love my body more deeply.
I’ve learned how women’s healthcare is shit, and how I am the biggest advocate for my own body.
In the work that I do, I believe that there is immense power in learning to love something society deems as gross, taboo, and unlovable.
Last summer, I decided to make a series for women to learn to love and connect with their periods.
I made a video talking about loving my blood, and on an impulse, I put some of my blood on my face.
Because of the reactions I received, I realized this was a radical thing.
I did it every month.
I learned that my blood is actually super good for my skin (celebrities get blood facials, and menstrual blood is even more nutritious, since it is made to house a baby), so I started doing total face masks with it.
I started receiving messages from women who said “I was so bothered when I saw your first posts, but the more I saw them, the more they inspired me to question my own disgust toward my blood, and now I’ve fallen in love with my period, too.”
I started receiving pictures of women doing the same thing, saying, “Please don’t share this with anyone, but I did it too and I wanted to show you how powerful I felt.”
The idea is not, at all, that every woman/person with a period should be putting their blood on their face.
Rather, it’s that if I take something many people find disgusting and I touch it and play with it and smear it all over my face — then maybe some little girl, somewhere, will see the blood between her legs and think, “Well if Demetra puts it on her face, maybe this isn’t that gross after all.”
Maybe her mother won’t teach her that it is shameful and meant to be hidden.
Maybe girls in other countries won’t have to miss school when they have their periods.
Maybe they won’t be told that they’re “dirty.”
Maybe they’ll have easier access to pads.
Also, it is incredibly fun. It feels bold and silly to take something so taboo and harmless and rub it all over my skin. It makes my skin glow.
Menstrual blood doesn’t smell unless you let it sit and collect in a cup or on pads and tampons for a while. I actually wrote an entire article last summer detailing why menstrual blood isn’t as gross as poop (in response to a favorite negative comment I’ve received — why don’t you just smear poop on your face?!)
The comments from other women hurt the most, because all I hear is women who reject their own bodies in some way.
Feminism, at least the way I learned it, is knowing that every woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body.
It’s not shaming other women for embracing their own blood.
The truth is that our world is ending. Climate change is speeding the world as we know it into a total disaster, that I will almost certainly see in my lifetime.
Humans have all the tools to fix it, but we won’t, because we’re too caught up in fear, greed, and hatred.
I think it is about time that people decided to take our narratives of the world into our own hands.
I think it’s time we began to love ourselves fully, to be all of who we are without shame, to become more self-aware.
I think it’s time we stopped keeping things like periods and sex and problems in relationships under wraps.
If we had a planet full of people who understood that they are connected to the earth around us, who knew that loving other humans was important, and who knew that who they are is enough — that would be a different planet.
I don’t know if we’ll ever see that happen, but I intend to do it in my own life.
For me, putting my own menstrual blood on my own body is part of that.