Period: Hi Lynette! How are you doing? Like really doing?
Lynette: Honestly, as a Black women in America I am tired, overwhelmed and frustrated at times from being purposely overlooked, undervalued and dismissed in a privileged menstrual space even though my daughter and I independently created and opened the first and only Menstrual hub and Uterine Wellness center in the World during a national pandemic through a crowdfunding campaign. This was pivotal to saving the lives of our most vulnerable communities.
Our #BlackGirlsBleed movement seeks to address systemic racism and oppression in the menstrual health space by amplifying authentic voices of Black menstruators and experiences of BIPOC-owned and lead organizations addressing menstrual equity – an area historically dominated by white perspectives; to ultimately decrease generational silence and stigma surrounding menstruation in Black communities. BIPOC individuals consistently have their voices muted and ignored, and their own menstrual experiences nullified and rejected, thus, it is dire to acknowledge menstrual equity as an intersectional issue. So follow, engage, read, and listen to BIPOC menstrual experiences, as true, equitable, menstrual justice cannot be achieved without racial justice. Menstrual equity is often highlighted as affordability, accessibility, and safety of menstrual products. However, Menstrual equity expands far beyond just products; it’s also imperative to provide our communities with education, resources, and multiple options to manage their menstrual hygiene and health.
Period: Tell us one amazing thing that has happened in the last month?
Lynette: We launched our epic and phenomenal PowerAPeriod campaign which is one of the first end period poverty fundraising efforts featuring the real voices of women right here in the United States suffering from Menstrual insecurities. This was intentionally created to highlight the real lived experiences of persons with periods we serve every day in our communities.
Period: How did this become your Purpose?
Lynette: When I met Holly 6 years ago in a therapeutic session. Her story resonated with me because my daughter and I have suffered the same unfortunate fate of living in period poverty and feeling powerless, helpless, and worthless. I immediately knew I couldn’t sit passively by and allow this to continue so I took action to fight against these injustices and it became my purpose.
Holly was just 13 when she first encountered period poverty. But the horror increased exorbitantly each year as she grew older living with just her mother and 4 little sisters. There was limited income for the very basics such as food and rent. So realistically there wasn’t any money left over for sanitary napkins or tampons. These poor little girls ended up resorting to using the most unhealthy methods imaginable every month just to survive this dilemma by utilizing socks, rags, stuffing from plushies, construction paper, scotch tape and any other make shift supplies.
During that time of month it became apparently clear that school wouldn’t be an option for
Holly and her 4 little sisters because there was no way they could leave the house without bleeding all over themselves, causing them further humiliation. It all got to be too much so little
Holly – like so many other desperate girls – dropped out of school and left home at 16.
Unfortunately, this is all too common every day in marginalized communities and it’s not just occurring in other countries; it’s happening right here in our own backyards.
Period: We know you love Walt DisneyWorld – what is your favorite ride?
Lynette: Yes I am absolutely a #DisneyNerd and my favorite ride is Winnie the Pooh.
Period: What is something you want people to take away / learn from the work you do?
Lynette: Period Poverty is not a single-minded issue, it takes a multidisciplinary approach.
When addressing menstrual hygiene as only a women’s issue in a silo it insinuates that menstrual products themselves such as tampons, pads, liners menstrual cups etc. are the quintessential solution to the patriarchal and misogynistic ideologies of menstruation care and management.
This puts an unfair burden on persons with periods, forcing our most vulnerable communities to actively engage in high risk behaviors and use unsafe methodologies to cope with their menstrual hygiene; rather than looking at the lack of menstrual health care as a broader oppressive social construct.
In reality periods are not the issue, they are indeed a normal and natural part of life. Our communities shouldn’t be shamed for having a menstrual cycle and feeling like they are somehow dirty or unclean. The blame should be towards the systems of oppression who blatantly and intentionally hold menstrual products hostage demanding the highest ransom from our communities.
True menstrual hygiene and health integrity can only be achieved when access, awareness and acceptance are provided in a socially supportive environment with a comprehensive Menstrual/Uterine care educational program, proper waste management resources and access to free and safe menstrual products.
Period: Your work is all consuming – how do you take care of yourself?
Lynette: Being intentional and honest with myself and others about taking time for self-care. This assignment is emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelming because we are addressing people in crisis every day all day. So, it’s imperative to my health and well-being to have designated days for myself to refuel and refresh. One of my favorite ways to escape to a land of fantasy at Walt Disney World.
Period: How would you finish this sentence, ‘in a perfect world, periods are….’
Lynette: Not used as ammunition to strip away a Person’s Power but Celebrated and Reverenced for being Positive, Profound and Powerful.