Quick: Think of some taboo topics. Religion? Definitely touchy. Money? Sure. How about bleeding out of your vagina? *Ding ding ding* we have a winner.
That's why Jessamyn Stanley, yoga instructor and body-pos activist behind "fat yoga" and the book Every Body Yoga, teamed up with U by Kotex to shut down the period stigma with the same ferocity and #realtalk attitude she uses to dispel every expectation you had about yoga body types. Stanley is the new face of U by Kotex fitness product line, including tampons, liners, and ultra thin pads dedicated to moving with you through burpees, downward dogs, and 5K runs.
But besides equipping the active women of America with better fitness period products (because there is a legit need for that), she's here to put period pride on blast. (V relevant, since periods are so hot right now.) Read her inspiring thoughts below on reclaiming the female body, that time of the month, and shutting down the period-shaming with some serious yogi philosophy. Just try to come out of it without loving your body—and your blood (as crazy as that may sound).
Why your period should make you feel powerful
"It's a time when you want to show yourself love and take care of yourself, not be in a place of hate and negativity. Like, 'Ugh I hate my period.' Nah, dude. You're showing that you're a woman. This is literally proof that you could bear a child—which is harder than anything a man will probably ever do. It's showing that you can handle that. During your period, you should be able to fight every dragon in your life; it's when you're especially powerful and especially strong, and you shouldn't feel anything other than that. It's your queen time."
How 'period positivity' and 'body positivity' go hand-in-hand
"I think you couldn't have the period positive moment without the body positive movement. It's really important to empower all human bodies. And then as a subset of that, women should not feel uncomfortable about their biology. There's no reason to feel bad about that. It's about owning this thing that is so taboo.
"When we talk about body positivity, a lot of the time the focus is specifically on fat bodies. I think it's a lot bigger than that, but just for the sake of argument… so whenever you are talking about owning 'fat,' it's so controversial because fat has turned into another form of profanity. When you say fat, you're not saying large, you're saying stupid, you're saying ugly. It's really about redefining that and saying, 'yeah, I'm fat, I'm large, but I can also be all these other things.'" (If you're saying "YAS" in your head, you'll love our #LoveMyShape movement.)
"And it's the same thing with being period positive. With body positivity and period positivity, it's that same ownership. It starts with normalizing the culture and the products so that no one has to feel shame."
Why you should still yoga on your period—and how to deal
"Specifically, with yoga, I feel like people are really self-conscious about even going to class when they're on their period. Because you'll just be like 'I'm cramping,' 'my body feels weird,' and that's the good side of the spectrum. It gets so much worse when you're worried about leakage or a string showing or something. Or even just opening your yoga bag and having a bunch of pads fall out and being really embarrassed about it.
"Sometimes what'll happen is that you're in conflict for so long that you don't even have the experience. Obsessive thought kills a yoga practice. So for me, I just let the emotion in, and say, 'okay, so are you going to sit here for the rest of this class and not do anything because you're worried that you might've bled through your pants or something?' What is the worst-case scenario really? Somebody else in this room has had a menstrual cycle. And I always just end up forgetting about it eventually. (And guess what? There are actually benefits to working out on your period.)
"I just want everyone to know that periods are a part of your life. They are part of your health. They show that your body is healthy and working well, and that's actually a source of strength. So even if you're not doing handstands or headstands on your period, that doesn't mean you can't do legs up the wall pose or garland pose and still engage with it. The whole point is to make you feel good, and not feel ashamed of it. In fact, it's the sisterhood that bonds women, and you can find strength in that."
What she wants to say to women who don't want to talk about their periods
"When you're like, 'can we just not talk about that,' or 'I know that I have one but we don't need to discuss it,' you should really just assess why you feel that way. And it's no shade, because I can totally see where that mentality comes from—especially if you have generations before you who are shocked to even acknowledge that you have a reproductive system. But the reality is that you do, and life could not move forward without it. If you feel really uncomfortable about it, that's something you should address within yourself, and see where that knee-jerk reaction comes from. This reclamation is imperative if we're are going to live in a more balanced society."