Kiran Ghandi got her period the night before running the London Marathon last year. Rather than use a pad or a tampon, Ghandi decided to “free bleed” as a stand to the “oppression” women face regarding their periods, and to highlight that other women in the world don’t have access to sanitary items.
After writing about the experience on her website, the M.I.A drummer and Harvard School of Business graduate’s story went viral, attracting both applause, and sadly, a whole lot of criticism.
Some called her “disgusting”, “ridiculous” and “gross”.
Now, the 26 year old has responded to those who have criticised her.
“It proves we are still deeply uncomfortable with a very normal and natural process,” she said in an email to People Magazine.
“You see, culture is happy to speak about and objectify the parts of the body that can be sexually consumed by others, but the moment we talk about something that is not for the enjoyment of others, like a period, everyone becomes deeply uncomfortable. Women’s bodies don’t exist for public consumption.” (Post continues after gallery)
In her original piece, Ghandi – who ran the 42 kilometre marathon in four hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds – said she she did the “epic, epic” experience for a number of people.
“We ran for women who can’t show their periods in public and for women who can’t compete in athletic events. We ran for our friends who have suffered through period cramps at work and for women who have survived breast cancer,” she wrote.
“We ran in sisterhood side by side and we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.”
Many critics have called her decision "a stunt" and questioned why she didn't raise awareness another way.
Ghandi's says that she's an artist, and that she was simply using what she had learned through studying art and the impact of shock culture at the marathon.
"On the day of the marathon, my friends and I had a job to do, which was to run [a marathon], and we did exactly that and rocked it out."
According to People, Ghandi plans to keep on raising awareness of the fact that many women and girls lack the confidence to identify or talk about their own bodies and feel they need to hide their periods.
"We must remove the stigma - if we don't own the narrative of our own bodies, somebody else will use it against us," she says.
Do you think there is still a stigma about publicly talking about periods?