Menstruation + Taboo (3): Sport
Lately there has been a lot of attention for the subject of menstruation + taboo. Period! brings you the best awareness actions. This week: sport.
1 Uta Pippig at the Boston Marathon (1996)
When trying to win a marathon, you don’t want to lose precious seconds (or maybe even minutes) changing your tampon. German long-distance runner Uta Pippig was menstruating – and had diarrhoea – when she won the Boston Marathon in 1996. She crossed the finish line with blood on her legs. ‘I had some problems with my period,’ Pippig, who during the race considered dropping out because of pain and cramps, said later. The reactions: funny enough, the menstrual blood was almost ignored. On live TV, male commentators didn’t know what to say and female commentator Katherine Switzer just mentioned the diarrhoea: ‘It happens. You just don’t worry about it. You’ve got a race to run.’ Afterwards, in the media, Pippig’s period was referred to as ‘physical problems’, ‘female issues’, ‘cramps’ and ‘stomach pain’. (Photo: You Tube)
2 Heather Watson at the Australian Open (2015)
Even without leaking blood onto your white tennis skirt, menstruation can still cause problems. In the beginning of 2015, top British tennis player Heather Watson lost in the first round of the Australian Open. She attributed her loss to her period, telling BBC Sport about how she felt dizzy, nauseous and a bit crap: ‘I think it’s just one of these things that I have, girl things.’ The reactions: Watson’s confession caused other athletes to also open up about their periods. Tennis player Tara Moore disclosed she’s always hoping that her menstruation doesn’t coincide with tournaments. Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe admits to scheduling her period away from major races, saying that menstruating definitely affects the performance of most female athletes during some point of their career. And former world champion swimmer Libby Trickett told Australian media: ‘It certainly consumes a huge amount of energy. I mean obviously with swimming you’re in very little swimwear and it’s a very real issue.’ (Photo: Facebook)
3 Kiran Gandhi at the London Marathon (2015)
What to do if your period started the night before you’d run your first marathon? Kiran Gandhi decided to go with the flow. Instead of bothering with sanitary napkins, she saw it as an opportunity to break the norm of period-shaming and raise awareness for women without access to sanitary products. As she described on her blog: ‘If there’s one person society can’t eff with, it’s a marathon runner. I decided to just take some midol, hope I wouldn’t cramp, bleed freely and just run.’ (Read Gandhi’s whole story here. ) The reactions: Gandhi’s action went viral. Never mind that she’d just run 26.2 miles, it was the fact that she bled freely during that run and had a blood stain on her clothes that caused a lot of attention. People’s reactions on social media were mixed. Some called her ‘awesome’ and ‘an inspiration’ whereas others found it ‘vulgar’ and ‘unsanitary’. According to Gandhi herself, the massive outcry over her story only proved the importance of her message. (Photo: @MadameGandhi)