No matter how progressive we all are, women and men alike would rather avoid the topic of menstruation as much possible. More than that, we certainly don’t want to take a cold, hard look at our “flow” for long periods of time.
It’s certainly in vogue to think of our periods as something natural and part of the maintenance of our bodies. Then again, our bodies do a lot of “natural” things that we don’t want to examine for their beauty. And, let’s be honest, so many of us still have not-so-friendly views towards menstruation. Either we have been influenced by our religious or cultural backgrounds which look at the flow of blood as a sign of death or we just associate menstruation with messiness, crampy-ness and weight gain. Net net, menstruation isn’t something we would place in the bucket of “all-things-beauty.”
But this exhibition has changed that. Denver-based artist Jen Lewis took pictures of her own blood in a series called Beauty in Blood. She eloquently states: The feminine “hygiene” industry perpetuates taboo thinking by suggesting the monthly cycle is dirty and socially impolite; it should be concealed in frilly pink wrappers like candy and only very loosely referenced with blue liquid in product commercials. In my experience, women and men are hungry for an authentic dialogue about menstruation and all that encompasses. It is clear the time is now to stand up and speak out on behalf of menstruation. It is a natural, messy but beautiful part of life.
Indeed Lewis’s pictures reflect this. We don’t just take our periods for granted, but we shun them. But look at how beautiful they actually are!
I write and speak about this overall concept a lot. So much of our digital culture today is about bringing to light the beauty of the seemingly everyday, mundane and even ugly. We may bemoan the hours we and others spend glued to our tablets and phones looking at our friends pics. But remember, so much of that time reflecting on the digital imagery in front of eyes also reveals the physical beauty that we once ignored or viewed as disdainful.
I look forward to seeing how the younger, digitally-savvy generation changes their views of physical beauty for the better and, even more importantly, their views of society — in this case women — as a result.