Whether it is India or elsewhere, menstruation has always been a taboo topic. Women talk in hushed tones when they're on their periods, and asking for a pad too becomes an eye-signalling affair with words as few as possible.
Although hitting puberty is often revered and celebrated in many societies, a dialogue around it has never really been possible because period blood is still considered to be impure.
When it should be a sign of a woman's health, it becomes a sign of her impurity. Women are kept away from attending religious rituals and ceremonies when on their periods as it is considered to be inauspicious. And even though there has been a surge in sanitary napkin ads, they still show blood to be blue. Which women's blood is blue?
The same unclean blood is now turning into beautiful art. It's turning into an expression of speaking against the centuries-old repression, and as a means to finally get people to talk about it.
These artists are trying to break the rigid mold that we have built around menstruation and are hoping that their art inspires people to discuss menstruation openly.
Rupi Kaur submitted a photo series called 'Period' as a project submission for her visual rhetoric course in her final year in college. The idea was to challenge the taboo and begin a discourse. Unintentionally, this young lady spiked quite a furore online, which turned into a controversy. But with all the hate unheard, she managed to inspire many other photographers to make art and break the conventional molds of patriarchy that dictated our periods to be hidden out of sight, and out of mind.
You can view the whole album here: Rupi Kaur
Jen Lewis' project titled, Beauty in Blood, is mesmerising to say the least. She uses period blood and magnified renderings of the images clicked to bring out the beauty in period blood. Her images look like everything from cotton candy, to a cobra, and a lava lamp. And she loves to use different agents of colour and texture to get the best images.
If I bled blue
You can view her full work here: Beauty In Blood
A photographer based in Vancouver, Jackie decided that it's time she dealt with her issues first. And thus began the journey of accepting that women everywhere makes mess, and that there's no woman who has fully learnt how to handle our unannounced period situations.
Her first period and how there was always a sense of shame associated with that inspired her to build a series of women on their periods. Her work might be a bit bold for the Indian audience, but it's a true portrayal of a woman in all her messy glory.
You can view the whole series here: Jackie Dives
A photographer based in Italy set out to change the way the world treated menstruation and women who were menstruating. She said, "We see so much blood due to violence, yet we shrink away when natural blood is exposed. I got close to it. I saw the beauty in it."
You can view her work here: Anna Vopli
These ladies are doing their bit to make a difference by attempting to begin a discussion, a dialogue. Menstruation is not unnatural, unclean, or a thing to be looked down upon. Women who menstruate are not things to be chained, kept indoors, or kept away. They are healthy human beings who possess the beautiful gift of giving and making a life.