Kiran Gandhi, a Harvard Business School graduate and musician who has played drums for M.I.A., spent a year training for her first London Marathon this past April. As the day of the race grew closer, she realized that she would be on her period for the 26.2 mile run.
Menstrual cycles have the annoying habit of lining up with important events (vacations, weddings, you name it). Gandhi, who experiences extreme pain while on her period, debated sitting the race out. But instead of letting her period dictate her life, she decided to still participate in the marathon, and utilized her cycle’s unfortunate timing to bring attention to period shaming and the misogynist discourse that surrounds women’s menstrual cycles.
Gandhi had never run with her period before and didn’t want to risk any potential discomfort or worry about a tampon throughout the marathon, so she decided to simply not use one. Instead, she let her menstrual blood flow freely, and visibly.
"I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don't have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn't exist,” Gandhi said on her website.
Although most women experience menstruation each month, it’s a bodily function that’s expected to be neither seen nor discussed. “I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day,” Gandhi added.
Following the race, Gandhi proudly posed for photos with her friends and family in her stained running outfit. “If there’s one way to transcend oppression, it’s to run in a marathon in whatever way you want,” she wrote of the experience. We couldn’t agree with this sentiment more.