#ChallengeBodyform

This is Women's Sport Week 2016 and I am a woman in sport.

After the adorable Fu Yuanhui cited her period as the reason for poor performance, the 2016 Olympics really highlighted how little periods are discussed in the context of sport. Societally speaking, why aren't we talking about periods? Periods are gross. Whatever, it's human body fluid. I get it. What I don't get is why period blood is widely treated as more disgusting, shocking, or secret than spit, wee, a bloody knee, or any other number of secretions. Periods are a healthy body function in half of the world's population. Menstruation isn't even a people thing, it's a mammal thing.

Certainly, the women I've spoken to privately do not shy away from the topic. I love the Ygritte (Game of Thrones) quote on the matter:

"Why would a girl see blood and collapse? Girls see more blood than boys".

It's why I loved Bodyform's excellent campaign - Blood. Thank god no fresh blue liquid in sight. I climb, I do Muay Thai, I run. On one memorable 2013 run I ripped my knee open completely. Haven't shied away from blood yet.

All this palaver is why I jumped at the chance to participate in #ChallengeBodyform. Bodyform sent me an awesome gift pack stuffed with fitness goodies and some Triple Protection Ultra Towels. The Challenge? Be typically active, on your period, and use their pads so you don't have to worry at all. I'm in.

The path begins off an A-road.
Meggie on the lookout.
I didn't let my period spoil a recent trip we took to Peanmeanach bothy. Bothies are a Scottish institution- mountain huts in remote corners of the country for use by anyone, at anytime. Peanmeanach is in an abandoned village near Arasaig. The bothy at Peanmeanach beach is 2 hours hike away from the nearest road and further still from the nearest set of proper bathrooms. The bothy is very large and cosy, although the roof is metallic so can be quite loud.


Despite a crappy forecast we headed out on Saturday; hiking into the evening on rocky paths and through marshy bogs. The path crosses an elderly rickety railway bridge (the Harry Potter train comes through here), passes a lovely small loch and a dramatic view of a few islands, and meanders up and down over a few hills. There are some river crossings so expect to get wet feet if you decide to take the trip out.


First view of the bothy.
The final section through a field is increcibly boggy and takes much longer than you'd think. Sadly we therefore arrived too late to pick wild mussels, but after watching the sunset on the beach we settled in with some posh pasta, a few beers, and a tonne of banana bread beside a roaring fire.

When you toilet in the wild you leave nothing behind. At bothies, privacy is at an all-time low too. Either you use contraceptives to shuffle your period, you don't go, or you just deal with I. I just dealt with it. Yeap, that means changing a pad outdoors in a howling rainstorm whilst your friend's partner absent-mindedly rounds the corner to head towards the same loo spot. Yeap, that means taking a pack away bag for used towels, wipes, wrappers and carrying that pack back out with you. It means adopting an attitude that it's just a period. Just something most women have. I don't believe in reducing my plans for something totally healthy that happens once a month. 

Sunset at Peanmeanach.
Washing our hair.


We had an amazingly sound night's sleep despite the rain on the roof and woke up to wash our hair in the river. Despite the trip lasting only one night, you really can be refreshed by only a small touch of nature. I'd recommend anyone head out to a bothy if they can. Bring friends, food, and warm clothing. There is nothing else like it. Our walk out was a little wet but a hot chocolate at Glenfinnan sorted us right out.

Looking out from the bothy.

One last glimpse in the clouds.

Bye bothy!
Sanitary products have come on leaps and bounds since I was younger- the Bodyform Triple Protection Ultra Towels were much softer on the edges than those I remember and were comfortable for walking and wearing overnight in a sleeping bag too (I haven't used pads in a while and I used to find that they chafed at the edges during sport). They are also much quieter than I recall- all women will remember trying to open sanitary towel packs as quietly as possible in a school bathroom and sounding like you were opening crisps in the cubicle or something. Although I wore tight leggings all weekend you also couldn't see any padding and I couldn't feel the pad at all either. This is how having an active period should be- barely thinking about it.

Pearl-clutching silence about periods does us all a disservice. Nothing should hold women back from feeling confident and staying active, especially not a normal, ideally very regular body function. Be bold - it's just a period, embrace your normal life and activities. Don't let it stop you doing anything.

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Does your period stop you participating in sport?



 Post written by Scallywag and published on Scallywag Sprints on 09/10/16

2 Comments:

  1. Great post and I admire how you fulled leaned into the challenge of using pads whilst adventuring! I will just have to take your word for it because I honestly cannot think of anything worse than having to wear and deal with pads whilst adventuring - tampons or Mooncup all the way. I'm just not convinced that anything which is going to be sturdy enough to keep the blood where it ought to be, is going to be something I won't feel. And then there's the issue of external mess - never going to be an option I choose when there are others that totally negate it.
    I really like the campaign though, and I think it's a great message. I know that for some, internal sanitary products are just not an option, and also some people still seem to come away with the message from somewhere that period = unable to do anything, so well done BodyForm.
    Unfortunately, they'll never be able to help out swimmers though...

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  2. It doesn't and hopefully it never will! I am so thankful that we can finally talk about this subject like adults, without having to lower our voices. It's completely normal/natural and the whole process certainly has evolved since my complicated and embarrassing teenage experiences. I've skied, climbed mountains and ran races during my period and nothing terrible every happened. From time to time it does affect my performance, and give me that delightfully bloated appearance but that's certainly not the end of the world. x

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