Media Misrepresentation: Bloated Bellies and Bloody Bedsheets

Flat hands on flat stomachs

A woman smiling with a hot water bottle

Women wearing white doing yoga

The images on a Google search of “period pain” seem almost idyllic. I don’t have a flat stomach on a non-period day and I rarely wear white because I’m a dropper and the risk of a stain is too high. Why are these women, even the ones curled up on the couch (also white, go figure) having such a calm time. Where is their sick bucket? Where is their acne? Where are their bloated bellies and  bloody bedsheets?

This isn’t the only case of media representation screwing over women (blue liquid in sanitary pad ads and already hairless legs demonstrating razors in shaving adverts ring any bells?), and frankly, it has left me questioning if something really is wrong with my body, or if I’m just being fed dodgey images.


I am worried. My already curvy stomach gets really bloated in the week before my period and once it comes, it stays that way through until day 4. My dreams of a flat stomach are truly quashed. The image of the smiling woman with a hot water bottle really grinds my gears. What about those of us who prefer microwavable cactus toys that heat up? No I’m kidding. My qualm here is the smile. The haunting grin of a woman who is clearly a sociopath, a sadist. Maybe she isn’t shedding her uterine lining or going with out caffeine because it makes her cramps worse.  Maybe she’s just cold. My heating pads and cactus toy come out when things get really bad (day 2) and smiling at these times feels impossible. And need I even criticise the women doing yoga dressed in white leggings? No, we all understand my rage.

Not only does it make me, a somewhat experienced period-haver concerned, but what about the impact these idyllic images have on kids? Ask around and you’ll find quite a lot of people thought they were DYING the first time they saw blood in their knickers! I’m not saying we have to show vaginas and blood on prime time TV, but surely a simple thing like changing that goddam blue liquid to something red could make a huge difference!

Mostly this is just a personal pity party, if you’ve made it this far I apologise. But for real, shouldn’t the images we put out there be realistic? Shouldn’t we better prepare children (girls and boys for that matter) for a fact of life?

It is everyone’s responsibility to educate young people about reproductive health, but doesn’t this have to start with the media?

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