Steph Gongora isn’t ashamed of her period, and doesn’t think other women should be either.
The yogi shared a video of herself on Instagram last week in which she performs a series of yoga moves while “free bleeding” — not using a cup, tampon or pad while menstruating — through her white yoga pants.
“I am a woman, therefore, I bleed,” she captioned the video. “It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s terrible and it’s beautiful. And yet, you wouldn’t know. Because I hide it. I bury things at the bottom of the trash. I breathe, ragged and awkward through the cramps, all the while holding onto this tight-lipped, painted-on smile.”
Gongora doesn’t understand why women are afraid to talk about tampons, or feel the need skip events for fear of needing a tampon or bleeding through their clothes.
“Hundreds of years of culture have made us embarrassed to bleed, have left us feeling dirty and ashamed,” she writes. “Stop pretending. Stop using silly pet names like Aunt Flo because you’re too afraid to say ‘I’m bleeding’ or ‘vagina.’ Stop wasting so much effort hiding the very thing that gives this species continuity.”
The social media star encourages women who have children to discuss menstruation freely with them.
“Start talking about it,” her post continues. “Educate your daughters. Make them understand that it can be both an inconvenience and a gift, but never something to be ashamed about. Educate your sons so they don’t recoil from the word ‘tampon,’ so when a girl bleeds through her khaki shorts in third period (pun intended), they don’t perpetuate the cycle of shame and intolerance.”
Gongora also pointed out that access to feminine products is a luxury that not everyone has.
“Over 100 million young women around the globe miss school or work for lack of adequate menstrual supplies and fear of what might happen if the world witnesses a natural bodily function,” she wrote. “Why?”
The free-bleeding movement first made waves in 2015, when M.I.A. drummer Kiran Gandhi ran a marathon without a tampon to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods.