The Stark Reality of Menstruation and Homelessness
What would you do if you had no access to sanitary products during your period?
Hi, adiposity my name is Chelsea, and I dropped everything in my life, completely resetting so I can walk in my purpose. I had been working as a stylist for over 7 years yet my career wasn’t evolving they way I had planned. In between gigs, I took on a string of odd jobs, from dog walking to uber driving. I was on my way to return clothes at a showroom when the best thing that’s ever happened to me happened to me.
I came to a red light while driving in Hollywood, CA when a homeless woman caught my attention. Very thin, chocolate complexion, with a buzz cut, and random patches of dirt covered her body. She began to cross the street, then I noticed her blood stained bottoms. She had no pants on, just a ripped, dirty tank top and some shorts as underwear. I was in my car tripping, looking around to see any reactions from the people in the other cars because she was so exposed.
I watched her get across, being caught up in my thoughts and emotions, I had just started my cycle that day. Next to crosswalk was a Trader Joe’s, once on the side of the building, still in plain sight, she proceeded to pull down her bottoms and squatted. That entire moment of from when I first saw her to the light finally turning green, may have only been 2 minutes but it felt like forever to me. I had so many questions, but the one question that was burning in my heart was, ” What the hell do homeless women do when they have their period?“
Menstrual products are not easily accessible or affordable to everyone. Homeless women may use unsanitary materials such as plastic bags, old rags, newspaper, dried leaves, or socks, because they do not have access to menstrual products. 1 out of 10 girls in the developing world miss up to 5 days/per month of school because they don’t have sanitary pads. Poor menstrual hygiene not only affects physical health, but also social and mental well-being.
Seeing that homeless woman inspired me to create My organization #HappyPeriod which just celebrated 2 years of service. #HappyPeriod provides menstrual care items to the homeless community. We hold public gatherings to collect donations and assemble everything into menstrual hygiene kits, then pass them out through street distribution and shelter drop offs. Once a month our group goes to the Skid Row area of downtown to do street distribution. We have created a simple model, easy for volunteers to get involved no matter their location. #HappyPeriod currently has chapters in 10 other cities across the country.
When you live in a Western Society, it is easy to forget that not everybody is as privileged as us and we often take things such as sanitary products for granted. If you want to help make a difference to a woman who is less fortunate than us, please reach out to us at #HappyPeriod or donate; you could help make one woman’s period a lot easier.
Writtten by Chelsea
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