In case you had forgotten, Instagram is apparently not down with the fact that women menstruate. Artist and poet Rupi Kaur’s photograph, which revealed her period-soaked sweatpants and stained sheets, was twice taken down, although Instagram later claimed it was an accident.
Instagram is just the latest in a series of media outlets that flagrantly censor what they deem “inappropriate” depictions of the female body. Never mind that mass media consistently and unrelentingly displays women as sexualized, nubile, shamed, silenced, or disposable, it appears that anything that remotely resembles the reality of womanhood, or better yet, personhood, will continue to be labelled unfit for the general public.
Kaur is just one of many feminist artists and activists who are championing an open dialogue about the so-called “feminine grotesque”. Their work speaks to the overarching problem with how women’s bodies are depicted online and elsewhere in the modern era, and will hopefully inspire others to embrace the true, flawed, beautiful nature of a woman, without shame or embarrassment.
A huge shout out to the Huffington Post for reaching out to these artists and providing an outlet for their work to be seen by millions of people. Scroll down for a few of the photographs and installations, and be sure to click the artist’s name to learn more.
“There is a clear message here: cover it up, erase it, shut up, be pretty and clean, don’t show us you are a human woman. In fact, we prefer you were a hairless, ageless, oh-so-cool-sexy, tiny, easily-manipulated, shiny machine-object, not a visceral, bleeding, odor-and-noise-and-fluids-producing, food-needing, bathroom-going, valuable, capable, ambitious, smart, emotion-and pain-feeling, gloriously human being.”
“Why is everyone still so terrified of vaginas?”
“I think the larger scope of the problem comes with the long held taboos of women’s bodies and menstruation, seeing them as something dirty we should hide or be ashamed of. The problem is a societal one.”
“People need to keep speaking up about their Facebooks being shut down, or their images being flagged, to encourage others to ask questions about who is deciding what is ‘offensive,’ and inspire conversations about how that reflects on our society.”
“The idea of feminine and grotesque in the negative sense existing as a combined term encourages us to despise biological truths regarding physical progress into womanhood which includes pubic hair, stains, menstrual blood, secretions, and other pungent qualities.”
Images c/o: Huffington Post
top photo by Zhu Tian