A January to Enjoy

A January to Enjoy

With dark nights and cold mornings, a Christmas-weary credit card and fading hope about ever feeling the warmth of the sun again, it’s easy to let January get you down. However, we’ve come up with our 5 top tips to keep hope alive in January, while helping our planet and your bank balance. Alright, you probably still won’t enjoy it as much as August but it won’t be so bad!

 

Travel to work by human power! 

Walk, cycle, swim down the canal (don’t), get a scooter, try a space-hopper, it’s all possible. For every 1 mile walked instead of driven, the planet saves about 150g of CO2 emissions, scale that up over everyone who drives to work and we’re talking tonnes plus fresh air and exposure to green spaces is known to increase concentration and boost the immune system. As well as the saving for planet earth, you’ll save your bus fare and do your body some good. And everyone at work will be jealous of that space hopper.

Have a good clear out and take it to a charity shop.

Life is cluttered enough so go through the cupboards and if you’ve not used it in the last year, get rid. Research the great work of different charities to decide where to donate your stuff. Feel the warm glow of a simpler life and learn to really cherish the things you use most.

Cook.

January has long been the haunting spot of fad diets and celebrity workout DVDs. We don’t believe in “one amazing trick to lose belly fat”. We do believe in nourishing yourself with simple, home-cooked food. Producing a steaming stew or apple crumble from the oven makes anyone feel satisfied. Invite friends round to share in the ritual instead of that trip to the pizza place on Saturday night. You’ll be dialling-down the spending and dialling-up the sharing. Aww.

Read books.

I know, like what people did before they invented the TV, laptop, smart-phone trio. If you’re anything like me, you already have un-read books in your house, quietly waiting to be picked up and cherished. If not, head back to that charity shop and treat yourself. Take yourself and your book on a date to a coffee shop and turn your WhatsApp alerts off. Breathe.

Meet people in your community.

Whether it’s singing in a local choir, going to that fitness class you’ve been meaning to join, taking volunteering role with the Scouts or just inviting some neighbours over for a coffee, the feeling of community can give you a huge mental boost. You might just be giving someone else a boost too.

 

And if you’re interested in protecting the planet and your health with your period products too, sign up for a Monthlies subscription. Just click below 🙂

My First Period

My First Period

Many girls arrive at their first period without knowing what to expect. It can seem embarrassing, scary and overwhelming.

Monthlies is working with London artist Kat Gordon to illustrate real stories of first periods to highlight how the taboo surrounding menstruation is leading to misinformation and confusion.

The illustrations are an honest account of how many girls felt when they bled for the first time, based on real stories, which were shared with Monthlies by menstruators across the UK.The artist Kat says “I find first time period stories fascinating. It’s really strange that some girls don’t know exactly what’s happening to their bodies because their parents and peers are too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss it beforehand. How scary is it to bleed and not really know why? It happens to half the population for goodness sake! I hope these illustrations help highlight just how important it is to educate young girls before they start menstruating and not in a biology lesson 4 years afterwards.”

 

 

I thought it was mud that somehow got into my pants

I got my first period on a school trip. We came in from some kayaking one day and there was this brown stain in my pants, I thought maybe it was mud that somehow got into my pants or that I’d caught something from the weeds in the lake. It stayed really light but the next day I asked a friend if this is what periods are like. She said yes and then told all of the girls in our dorm that I had mine. By the time we were heading home 3 days later, everyone on the trip knew. One of the teachers had offered me pads and the boys were obviously threatened with severe consequences if they mentioned anything as most of them barely made eye contact with me.

I couldn’t work out where the big stain had come from

I started in the middle of the night and woke up to this big red-brown stain on the sheets. I couldn’t work out where it had come from for a few minutes then realised it was me. My big sister had hers already so I knew what periods were and my Mum put the sheets in the wash but I’m always nervous about ruining the sheets when I’m due on.

It seemed like my insides were dissolving

Mine started when I was 10, so pretty young. I was really confused by the whole female reproductive system. My aunt told me that periods meant I was becoming a woman, so I could have children one day (looking back, I have so many issues with this explanation, I would never put it like this to my children – if I choose to have any!). I knew about sex getting people pregnant but I didn’t understand why leaking blood once a month from the same place meant I was more able to have babies. To me it seemed like my insides must be dissolving or something. It was another 4 years of mystery until we covered periods in a science lesson at school. I just wish there was better education about periods and reproduction at a younger age!

I was scared my tampon would swell up and float away

I started my period during the school holidays. My mum’s friend was looking after us and was taking us swimming. I was too embarrassed to tell her I had my period. So my sister showed me how to use a tampon. I was so embarrassed that it was going to swell up and float away that I spend most of the time by the poolside worrying that everyone could see the string!

I thought I could hold it in like pee

My Mum told me about periods but she didn’t really explain it very well, and I thought it was just going to be like one event per month, and that I’d be able to hold it in, like I could stop myself from weeing and go to the loo to do my period, instead of needing these pads she had given me. When my first period arrived and I couldn’t control it and it lasted for like a week, I realised what she’d been trying to say, but I still wish it could just be one trip to the loo each month!

Monthlies are passionate about smashing the taboo around menstruation and dispelling the misinformation and confusion which many girls face when they get their first period.

This campaign is just the beginning. Click the button below to share your own period stories and help us to smash the taboo!

Guest Blog: A bad time of the month

Guest Blog: A bad time of the month

This month’s blog comes from Sophie Jo – she wrote this great article for The F Word and agreed to write a piece for Monthlies too! We love her super honest writing style and you can read more on her blog.

 

A bad time of the month

My friends regularly refer to me as an ‘oversharer’.

When I say this, I don’t mean I’m one of those people who sits next to someone on the bus and tells them about my crippling insecurities until they get off three stops early. I mean I’m the kind of person who, among pals, will openly admit that I cry every time I see the penguin from the British Gas advert. I’m not even ashamed. The Edward Scissorhands soundtrack plays in my head and I think about my family and Christmas trees and I get all sniffly. I like that penguin a lot. I like his backpack and inquisitive demeanour, okay?

I enjoy discussing:

  • all the times I have interviewed myself in the shower (it’s not embarrassing, I am convinced everyone does it. Sometimes I have a cookery show)
  • religion and my thoughts on eternal life (I don’t fancy it)
  • how nice it is to take your bra off at the end of the day (AKA really nice)
  • the day I told my boyfriend my feet have never smelled, ever, and he sniffed them to make sure I was right (I was right)

I don’t think I’m a cRazY kOoKy GaL – I just don’t really like weather chat, so I’d rather overshare than undershare. I will talk about mental health. I will talk about feminism. I will talk about my parents’ divorce. I will talk about my very real fear of losing my cuddly toys in a house fire one day. But the one thing I’ve never really felt comfortable discussing is periods – especially with anyone who isn’t a close, female friend.

I don’t even know why I feel this way – a massive part of me is well aware that it’s dumb, and that half the world has periods, and that someone who says “EW!” when I tell them I have to swing by Superdrug to pick up some tampons probably isn’t someone I ever want to see again. I KNOW ALL THIS. But something inside me still worries.

I wrote a piece about periods for The F-Word a few months ago, and although the entire thing was about how we need to talk about menstruation, I still worried that tweeting about said piece would lose me approximately 7/8 of my followers, who would think I was gross and icky and that I danced around a fire waving sanitary towels at the weekend.

But you know what? I was wrong – and, I found out, there are lots of other women out there who are kinda sick of pretending periods don’t happen, too. When the Monthlies team tweeted me to say they liked what I’d written, they sent over a ‘period playlist‘ and I checked out their website. It turned out Monthlies and I were on the same wavelength – “About half of the people in the world get nose bleeds but we don’t whisper about them or pretend it’s all just blue liquid, not blood,” wrote founder Sarah.

If you’re not in the loop, Monthlies is a tailored period subscription service – you ‘build’ your box of environmentally-friendly tampons and pads online according to your needs and it gets sent straight to you in the post. It also acts as a platform for open chats about periods, which I love.

I received a box of Monthlies goodies last month – all selected by me – and I genuinely think this was the first time I’d EVER LOOKED FORWARD TO HAVING A PERIOD. I’d been able to choose the products that suited me and my cycle, and they all came in a cute little bag – perfect for those of us who are trying reeeeeally hard to fight the stigma but still don’t feel comfortable walking from the office to the toilet, tampon in-hand (*coughs* ME). Ahem.

I’ve still got a long way to go – I know that. But for me, the best bit about trying Monthlies was that I remembered there are other women out there who feel the same. Women who want to stop pretending their periods don’t happen. Women who are bored of breaking into a sweat when a tampon makes its way to the top of their handbag and pokes out to say hello. So I’m going to carry on waving my metaphorical sanitary towels, even if it makes people uncomfortable, because that’s the only way things are ever going to change. I’m an oversharer – it shouldn’t be too hard.

Sophie Jo
sophiejowrites.wordpress.com / @notaquamarine

Olympic Spirit

Olympic Spirit

The Olympic Games is under way and we’re loving our cheeky work breaks on iPlayer, to check on how high Jess Ennis-Hill is jumping, how fast Bolt is running and how fast and high the mind-blowing Simone Biles is flipping, bouncing and balancing.

We love sport, and the Olympics is a reminder of how incredible the human body can be but unfortunately it’s also a reminder of the sexist bias in reporting which we see in the media. Mis-haps and blunders have plagued reporters, where internalised misogyny bubbles to the surface in the heat of the events.

Like when Andy Murray had to remind John Inverdale that the Venus sisters do count as people. When the presenter congratulated Murray on winning the Olympic tennis singles title for the second time, he suggested Murray was the first person to win two golds. Murray quickly replied “I think Venus and Serena have won about four each”.

 

And when Twitter had to step in to point out that the “Wife of Bear’s Lineman” has a name of her own, as well as an Olympic medal to put to it – and it’s Corey Cogdell. The Chicago Tribune’s tweet was quickly criticised by people asking them to refer to her by her name, not her marital status or husband’s profession.

 

We’ve also seen double standards from the US media, who were actively disappointed in Gabby Douglas when she didn’t put her hand over her heart during the US national anthem on the podium when she won the Team event for Gymnastics. However, swimmer Ryan Lochte in the US Olympic team, who is accused of vandalising a building and lying to the police about a robbery, has been defended by the media, as a “kid” who “deserves a break”. Double standards which we can’t help but see as influenced by race and gender. Imagine if a black athlete had caused damage to a building, do you think the media would have reacted in the same way? We think not.

Happily, our female athletes are having none of this, as Simone Biles (we have such a girl crush on her) refused to be compared to some bloke who can’t even do a back-flip:

We’ve also seen the brilliant Fu Yuanhui, bronze medallist swimmer from China talk openly about how her period affected her performance. This was more than just tackling the taboo, it also prompted mass discussion of tampons in China, where they’re used by only 2% of menstruators because of myths around their impact on hygiene and virginity. Woman’s Hour this week explored these cultural taboos and the difficulty in finding tampons in China, in more detail in this programme. Lets hope more Chinese menstruators feel empowered to plug up and go for a swim when they’re bleeding.

Yuanhui’s admittance of her period couldn’t come at a better time as a gym in Georgia banned women on their periods from swimming just last week. Customers are outraged and one asked that she pays 20% less on her membership than men if she’s forced to avoid the pool for 6 days each month.

 

Change may be slow to happen, but these instances of sexism, misogyny and the cultural pressures working on women, are being called out quicker than Usain Bolt can cross the finish line. We wish the best performance to every athlete, male and female and hope the Games can act as a platform for gender equality as well as a great advertisement for athleticism and sport around the world!

Monthlies Ultimate Period Playlist

Monthlies Ultimate Period Playlist

We’ve been promising this list for a long time! Here is the Monthlies Utimate Period Playlist. Get yourself dancing and singing along, celebrate the shedding of your uterine lining and rest calm in the knowledge you’re not the only one going through it!

Think we’ve missed something? Drop us a line on hello@monthlies.co.uk with your suggestions. The list may be ultimate but it’s open to evolution too!

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love

For those days when you keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding. Leona knows how you feel.

Mary J Blige – PMS

Mary tells PMS as it is. Her lower back is aching and her clothes don’t fit. We know the feeling only too well but she’s singing us through.

Taylor Swift – Bad Blood

Sometimes we all hate periods. Taylor knows. It’s bad blood (but actually it’s not bad, it’s natural, and it’s kind of only half blood, the other half is cells and stuff. I don’t suppose that would be such a catchy title for Tay-tay though!)

Garbage – Bleed Like Me

We googled the lyrics to this one and it’s deep – there’s eating disorders, self harm, transgender uncertainty. They’re all bleeding. Take care of yourselves everyone.

Beyoncé – Grown Woman

Queen Bey is a big girl now. And she’s a grown woman. She can do whatever she wants. She probably menstruates #tenuous but we love Beyoncé too much to leave her out.

R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts

Everybody hurts sometimes. Sing it to us REM, sing our cramps away!

Tacocat – Crimson Wave

Pure joy in this song. The lobsters, the fake surfing, the shark, the communists in the summerhouse. Could this be the ultimate period song?

Inspired by what you've read?

Welcome to our Sparkly New Website!

Welcome to our Sparkly New Website!

You may have noticed Monthlies has been a bit quiet for the last couple of months. Not as much fierce feminist opinion as you may have liked to see, a bit slow on the old dismantling the patriarchy front. Tumble weed where you expected tampon puns. We know. And we’re back!

We’ve had our heads down, teaching ourselves how to use the internet and getting cross at coding. But finally we are victorious and the new Monthlies website is born! “What’s new?” we hear you cry. Real subscription billing, that’s what. And ultimate customisability with our clever box builder tool. We made an FAQs page and everything #soproud.

 

Out-takes from the great website construction of 2016

Some of my particular highlights from the website building process were the “diamond series” (I thought it was the coolest thing ever to put a picture of a Monthlies box on a red diamond, I had to be convinced it was not, in fact, the coolest thing ever and actually looked a bit naff). And the day I decided to name each of the box sizes after Dulux paint names for different shades of red. Volcanic Splash 3 never made the cut but it will always have a special place in my heart.

Now the site is live and kicking, we have time back on our hands. Time to smash some tired taboos. So in honour of Menstrual Hygiene Day on Saturday we’re collecting First Period stories.

For many young people, their first period is stressful and scary but this doesn’t have to be the case. We believe the more open we can be, in sharing the embarrassing stories as well as the good ones, the more normal it will become to talk about periods. This will mean fewer people go through menarche (your first menstrual cycle) without knowing what to expect, and the ideas of shame and fear which we’re sold by big tampon-peddling corporations will start to lift.

If you want to be part of our campaign, you can tell us your first period story via this link.

To get us started, Monthlies founder Sarah kicks off the over-share:

Before my first period, I was so nervous and excited about it. I have a sister who is two years older and when I was about 10, these colourful packs of pads appeared in the bathroom which my Mum explained were in preparation for my sister starting her periods. Never wanting to be left behind, I immediately wanted to have periods too (little did I know what I was letting myself in for!)

As I got older and surpassed the age my sister had started her periods, I started getting anxious about whether mine would ever arrive. I clearly remember a conversation with a friend before my periods started. I was in Year 9 at school, already 14 and I was sure there was something wrong with me because I hadn’t started yet, so I asked a friend if we could talk in the classroom cupboard at break time. Surrounded by the PE kits of my classmates, I asked her embarrassedly if I everyone else in the class had started. She said yes, most of the other girls had but I shouldn’t worry because she’d read in a magazine it could happen as late as 16.

Over the next couple of months, I thought my period had begun every time I had a slight tummy ache (surely just trapped wind!) but when it finally did arrive, it was a thorough anticlimax, like opening a long-awaited present to find cramps and mess waiting. At least I was finally in the club though, I could join in with the “time of the month” talk when the PE teachers tried to make us shower after netball and my sister couldn’t get away with calling me a little kid any more!

 

 

Then and now. Not much has changed really!

Inspired by what you've read?