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Periods are cool. Breaking taboos and celebrating menstruation in a society ostracizing those with a uterus is at the heart of a new documentary released on YouTube. The French project titled 28 jours (28 Days) aims to liberate female voices and to start a dialogue around the monthly event too often despised.
Journalist Myriam Attia and producer Justine Courtot while discussing books on menstruation realized that their colleagues were embarrassed. “When we talked about it in front of our co-workers, the discomfort was palpable. We thought it would be interesting to write a paper about periods but the subject was too complex. This is when the idea came to make an educational video,” says Attia.
The interviewees speak without any filter on the subject. The director Angele Marrey (22) told Headstuff: “My goal was to let people express themselves and mostly to dedramatize periods. I tried to be the spokesperson of different experiences without any judgement.”
The soft voice of the narrator starts by telling the story of the phenomenon over an animated pastel painting. The aesthetic choice is just delightful featuring bold and colorful images. While one woman dressed in white pulls off the petals of a flower, later in a close-up another touches a fruit placed between her legs. “I wanted to create a caring and soothing object. We speak about body, about flesh and I wanted the artistic images to give rhythm to the documentary without removing its gentleness,” explained the director.
From the pain of cramps to having sex on periods, the origins of several taboos are demystified. We learn that women used to be deified for their cycle before repulsion replaced this initial fascination. Women were also the first astronomers as they had to calculate their cycle based on the ones of the moon. The cultural thought of period blood being impure actually started with the theist religions, and these myths stayed as common beliefs for several generations.
In 28 jours, a group of young men are also asked for their views on the subject. Although this reveals a fear of the unknown and a preconceived notion of intercourse being forbidden on periods, their conversation helps to break prejudice.
The pain due to menstruation appears to be even more taboo than any misconception around dirty blood. The president of the association EndoFrance Yasmine Candau and the gynecologist Michel Mouly both talk about endometriosis – a condition where the tissues inside the uterus migrate onto different organs. Although one woman in ten are affected by it in France, many do not communicate their pain and are not diagnosed.
Then there’s the testimony of the French actress Noemie De Lattre. If ten years ago she was herself judging other women for being comfortable with their periods, she is now fighting for free access to sanitary towels and contraceptive products. The documentary even calculates the amount of money that a woman will spend during her life due to menstruation: €5,763 in France.
“I hope that after watching the film, people will feel better and talk about it, that they will tell each other their stories of periods and learn more,” concluded the director.