Mens­trua­tion around the world is series from Vul­vani that attempts to show the diver­sity of mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces around the world. We por­tray people from dif­fe­rent coun­tries with their per­so­nal sto­ries. Let us explore the jour­ney towards embra­cing your period together.

Mara lives in Madrid, Spain, but was born and rai­sed in Bra­zil. In this inter­view she takes us along, in a very honest way, on her long jour­ney towards more self-accep­t­ance, love and embra­cing your period. Dear Mara, thank you from the bot­tom of my heart for your open­ness and the great interview!

Personal Information

Name: Mara
Age: 25
Gen­der / Sex: Woman
Coun­try of birth: Bra­zil
Home: Madrid, Spain
Degress + Job: Crea­tive woman
Age at first period: 12
Favo­rite period pro­duct: Mens­trual cup
Cost per mens­trua­tion: Seven years ago I paid the equi­va­lent of 20 euros for a mens­trual cup
Con­tracep­tion: Per­cep­tion of fer­ti­lity and condom

1. How is menstruation seen in your family, culture and even country?

I grew up until the age of 10 in a very simple cul­ture and in the coun­try­side where I did not know about mens­trua­tion,. Until the age of 10 I did not even know that it exis­ted. Nor in the fol­lowing years was there any talk of mens­trua­tion, eit­her about the body or about sexua­lity, it was some­thing totally taboo. To this day in my family I see that it is some­thing that is totally trea­ted as taboo. Perhaps because it is a very rural cul­ture, where most people, inclu­ding women, have not had any access to cul­ture or edu­ca­tion. A clo­sed cul­ture lost in time, where the body and sexua­lity are not some­thing to talk about. I think that in gene­ral in Bra­zil, mens­trua­tion is as taboo as sexua­lity itself.

2. How and by whom were you educated about menstruation?

What I lear­ned about mens­trua­tion was in schools, but I have few memo­ries of clas­ses on repro­duc­tion and sexua­lity. When I was a child I heard that the day I bled, no one should know, nor could I let men per­ceive that I was blee­ding. That was part of a vio­lent cul­ture, where blee­ding was already a rea­son to be raped.

3. Tell us a little about your first period.

My first period was hor­ri­ble. I was no lon­ger living with my bio­lo­gi­cal family. At 10 I was adop­ted by a lady, who actually trea­ted me as a domestic employee. But spea­king of this day, I was living in a com­mu­nity in Rio De Janeiro, I had just tur­ned 12 years. It was August 22, 2008, I had tur­ned 12 on July 28. In the house I lived in, there was a lack of water and I nee­ded to go to the bathroom, so I went to my little friend Amanda’s house. When I took off my clothes and saw the little bloo­d­s­tain, I felt des­pair, fear, shame, and a sense of aban­don­ment. I remem­ber asking Amanda not to tell anyone, and before I could go out­side, Amanda was screa­ming at ever­yone that I had bled. I felt betrayed, then ever­yone knew that I was already a “woman”, ever­yone without excep­tion, and for the first time I felt vio­la­ted without being touched. 

When I took off my clothes and saw the little bloo­d­s­tain, I felt des­pair, fear, shame, and a sense of abandonment.’

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

Today I made peace with my blood, with mys­elf and with my wounds, cau­sed by a miso­gy­nist and vio­lent cul­ture. Over the past few years I have approa­ched and hea­led mys­elf through my blood. In the last 6 years, I have ree­sta­b­lis­hed a peace­ful and loving rela­ti­ons­hip with my mens­trual blood. Today I love being a woman. I love having the awa­reness that I have today with my body and my blee­ding, feel every month as this pro­cess occurs to finally bleed is some­thing very pre­cious. I believe that a woman can only live totally in peace when she can estab­lish a peace­ful and loving rela­ti­ons­hip with her blood and her body.

Photo credit: Mara

5. Which menstrual products have you already tried?

Before I star­ted using the cup I used a dis­po­sable pad. 

6. What do you like to do when on your period? 

I usually paint, some­ti­mes using my blood, some­ti­mes I put it on the plants or some­ti­mes I talk to it and thank it for being there, I like to touch it and feel it.

I feel the little dance in the ute­rus, but it is some­thing totally smooth.’

7. How are you feeling when menstruating? 

I’m a very lucky woman, I have no phy­si­cal com­p­laints. I feel the little dance in the ute­rus, but it is some­thing totally smooth. The only thing you notice at each cycle is the move on an emo­tio­nal level. 

8. Who are you talking to about menstruation?

I talk about mens­trua­tion these days with ever­yone, because one of my grea­test wis­hes is that mens­trual blood be trea­ted natu­rally and without any kind of taboo. 

9. Do you have a particular funny, embarrassing or important story about menstruation?

Once I met a guy, I invi­ted him to my house and as I thought, we should have sex… until I asked him about my pain­tings, if he could ima­gine what they were made of and he ans­we­red no. When I told him, he ans­we­red: How dis­gus­ting. I quickly told him, get dres­sed and get out of my house. Until today, the boy does not under­stand why. Obviously, I would never, these days, have sex with a boy who tells me that he is dis­gus­ted by blood. And I never saw him again, even though he wrote to ask me what had hap­pened, I just told him: think.

Photo credit: Mara

10. Want to share anything else about menstruation (or yourself)?

I think to change the world, we’re going to have to change a lot of things. Star­ting with brea­king any taboos about the body, the female body mainly. I think it is very important to teach our girls the power wit­hin, and then maybe we will grow very aware of the power wit­hin that we have, being at peace with our world will be the most important revolution. 

‘Being at peace with our world, will be the most important revolution.’

Photo credit: Mara

Do you want to become part of ‘Menstruation around the world’?

We hope to be able to pre­sent the por­traits of mens­trua­ting people as varied and diverse as pos­si­ble. And for this we need you – no mat­ter how you feel about your own mens­trua­tion or where you come from! If you would like to be part of this series and share your per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces and thoughts about mens­trua­tion with us, please write us a mes­sage or sim­ply fill out this ques­ti­onn­aire (anony­mously is also pos­si­ble). We are already loo­king for­ward to sharing your story with the Vul­vani community!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.