Period positivity chat with vlogger Cattitude and Co

period positivity feminist catstello

Tara vlogs candidly about period positivity, helping to challenge the stigma and end the silence. We hook up to chat menstruation awareness and being open about it all…

period positivity Catstello

Follow Tara on Twitter (@Catstello), her website and YouTube

How did you get started in period positivity vlogging?

Well I have always been pretty vocal about my own period. I enjoy writing and talking about it, especially with other women. A lot of people reach out to me and tell me they don’t have anybody in their life that they can do that with. This is why I continue to be so vocal about it even if it annoys people. I have made YouTube videos about period products and even period sex – it was BeautyCreep who inspired me to start vlogging my period though. 

Menstruating can be tough, but we’re encouraged to be strong and silent. Pretty damaging, no?

I think this is extremely damaging! It alienates SO many people. I have the privilege of being able to get on with things to an extent. My periods are generally easygoing, it’s nothing I can’t handle. But there are people out there who suffer from pretty debilitating symptoms. Some people could be experiencing symptoms that require more looking into. How do we expect them to a) know about it and b) get the help they need when we are silenced so much? I know so many women who suffer from PCOS and endometriosis who went years without a diagnosis.

I think menstruation has become more mainstream these past couple of years, but we still have so much more to do. We still need to help homeless people, transgender people and people in third world countries. Items won’t be more accessible if we don’t break the taboo first.

Check out Cattitude & Co.’s period posivity vlog

Did you know much about periods when you first got them?

I was very fortunate to have a mother who was so open with me, I am honestly so grateful for that. When I was seven I kept asking her what a penis was and instead of brushing it off, she sat me down and had the talk with me. So, I never had a problem coming to her for information and she never judged either.

It was really weird but she kind of sensed when my period was coming? I remember her sitting me down and explaining to me that I was going to get my period soon. I did a week later! She was really great, she took the time to explain it all and bought me pads. I knew exactly what to expect and wasn’t scared at all. I hear so many stories about mothers not even bothering to tell their children, can you imagine how scared you’d be? She was pretty much my number one source; sex education sucked and nobody really spoke about stuff like that. I think that’s what has always inspired me to do so.

Would it have been easier if period positivity vlogs were around?

It shouldn’t be this scary thing, both info and products should be easy to access. Since I was very lucky, I don’t know if seeing vlogs like mine would have made a difference. Having said that, so many teenage girls reach out to me and it warms my heart every time. A few mummy bloggers have said they will be sending their kids to my site, which is really lovely to hear.

Can it change attitudes if we all talk about periods more often?

Yes, absolutely. The easiest way to break a taboo is to talk about it, it’s as simple as that. That’s why I never shut up about it!

You might vlog from your bed or bath. You might talk about temperature changes, poo, spots or hydration. It’s easy to relate to…

I like to think my style is the same across the board. Whether it’s in a video, a blog post, or on social media, I’m unapologetically myself and definitely don’t censor myself.

Everyone is different. What is a really bad period like for you?

I just finished an especially bad period actually. Two weeks before, I was an emotional wreck. I was anxious for days and feeling extra sensitive. My period was late and I was just feeling everything at once.

When it finally came, I felt a bit more relaxed. However, I completely lacked motivation to do anything and there was so much blood. The first day I could not leave my bed. The first couple of days my cramps would not stop either. I tried everything; painkillers, heat pads, masturbating. Nothing. Everything got on my nerves too, it was horrible and I felt miserable.

For me, the havoc it wreaks on your emotions is worse than any physical symptom

What’s your self-care for truly grim periods?

I have to kind of shut myself off from the world and some months I won’t leave the house during my period. I just get so miserable, there is no point being around people. 

I  try to spend some quality time with my boyfriend and stay offline too. We’ll stock up on snacks and watch a film or something. I also really up my skincare regime because I get really oily. You can most likely find me in the tub with a face mask on.

What’s your period product weapon of choice?

It honestly changes each month! I mostly recommend menstrual cups to people, but I’ll flit between a cup, cloth pads or period panties. Those things are revolutionary!

Do you hear from people who have felt helped by your videos?

Yes all the time and I’m always so pleased when they do. It’s really motivating to hear my videos or posts are helping people.

Do you get haters? How do you keep strong and deal with them?

I have had my fair share of trolls and honestly it doesn’t get any easier. I wish I could tell you that it doesn’t get me down, but some days it’s tough. I try focus on the positive messages and remind myself why I started in the first place.

I also think it’s important to remind yourself that most of the time it’s just random bored people on the Internet. What I don’t get is all the unnecessary subtweeting and shitty comments. Some people go out of their way to consume my content just so they have something to complain about. I don’t understand why you’d watch if you know you’re going to get angry.

One time this woman tweeted me saying I was a disgrace to women everywhere – this is the stuff that gets me down the most. How does wanting to empower women make me a disgrace? I have to just take a step back sometimes.

You talk about feminism, sex and body image as well as period positivity. They all have acceptance, diversity and the need for education in common, don’t they?

I find that any time a woman is speaking about something openly, people are furious. I guess these topics in particular attract negative attention. Some people are just really threatened by a woman loving themselves, aren’t they? I hate that people are so quick to shut us down. 

You’ve started live-tweeting your period. Cool! How has that been going? Has there been a community feel?

Yeah definitely, that hashtag is hilarious! I love seeing people come together and relating to one another. Somebody tweeted me the other day saying they’re going to join in next time actually. I’m always kind of taken back when I’m reminded that something that comes so naturally to me takes a lot of guts for somebody else. I hope I can inspire more to do the same, we need more voices. 

You point out that it’s not just women who menstruate. YES. That’s really important…

I can’t believe in 2017 we still need to be having this discussion but here we are. I’m always trying to find the balance between raising awareness and talking over people. That is the last thing I want to do. I think it’s really important to be mindful of the language we’re using and actually listen to others.  

I definitely want to try to highlight a range of experiences and talk with more people of all genders about it. We can’t settle for cis-centric white feminism and we need to really start challenging it now more than ever. Intersectionality should be a priority for everyone.

You talk to cis men about periods, from your dad and boyfriend to work colleagues. What do you like best about their response?

I have featured my boyfriend a few times actually, which garnered mixed responses. I said we should definitely be including men in this conversation and somebody went into the whole ‘not all men’ rhetoric.

A lot of people don’t like confrontation but I just can’t help myself. I think I could save myself a lot of time and stress if I just ignored some of the comments I heard working in an office, but isn’t that part of the problem? I guess I need to get better at picking my battles.

The best reaction I ever got was when I completely changed my male colleague’s opinion on the matter. I actually made a video about this, but basically when another male colleague showed his disgust he stepped in before I even could! I think most people just want men to shut up and listen. I also think transgender people probably want cisgender people to do the same. I can’t talk for transgender people but the number of times a man has tried to dismiss me is unreal.

As a person with a period, what do you want to hear from men to feel like you’re being heard and understood?

Listening to people who menstruate is obviously key. I think men should take the time to educate themselves as well; my boyfriend is always asking me questions. But most importantly, don’t censor us or show disgust. You are entirely part of the problem if you do that.