By Rhea Arora
Elm Staff Writer
Rupi Kaur’s photography project for a course at the University of Waterloo called “Period”, was removed from Instagram two different times after viewers reported it as inappropriate. The photo series captures Kaur in times every women has found herself while menstruating, be it leaking on sheets or lying in bed with uterine cramps.
After Instagram removed the first post, Kaur re-posted the photo and, according to The Huffington Post, lashed out at the social media website on Facebook and Tumblr, claiming that the removal reinforced the patriarchy, misogyny, and shame with which it is usually associated. Instagram apologized to Kaur and reinstated the photo, saying a member on the team took the photo down by accident.
What is more bothersome is that people who viewed the photo actually reported it as offensive or sexually explicit. There are numerous accounts that contain sexually charged photographs and videos, but people do not flag those as inappropriate because it is not a taboo to be sexy or attractive. It is, however, a taboo to speak about anything related to menstruation. In less developed countries, women are forbidden from entering places of worship and the kitchen while on their periods because something that is a natural, bodily function is seen as unclean and unholy. This embedded culture of fear of a period being sacrilegious is exactly what Kaur wanted to bring attention to and change.
Think about it. How many times have you seen a woman carry a tampon or pad as openly as she would carry a T-shirt or a pair of jeans? In many parts of the world, menstruation is embarrassing. It is something that is spoken about only between mother and daughter, and even then it is spoken in hushed tones. Think about all the advertisements you have seen trying to sell you a menstrual product. Have you ever seen blood or any mention of blood? I have only seen ads with women wearing white pants or jumping around the place, which almost seems like an attempt to portray a phenomenon like menstruation as no big deal.
However, it is a big deal because it is something women go through from the early ages of 13 and 14. Having to wash stained sheets and pants first thing in the morning so that the stain does not set, lying in bed all day because period cramps make one feel lethargic, and constantly checking the back of your shorts, skirt, or jeans to make sure there are no marks are things every woman has done. Why be ashamed about it, and, more importantly, why make fun of it and make women feel uncomfortable like they must hide something that is a regular part of their lives?
I’m not saying that a period is all sunshine and rainbows. It is painful, messy, and inconvenient, but women deal with it every month. The goal is to lessen the shame and stigma surrounding it and make it a topic that everyone can freely discuss without fear of embarrassment.
The Huffington Post so rightly said, “Our bodies are sometimes weird and confusing, but they’re also the only ones we’ve got, so we may as well love ‘em.”