We’ve all seen her; she’s the girl who enters a Halloween party dressed as a sexy nurse. Stockings reach just beyond her kneecaps to help accentuate her exposed thighs, which are splattered with the same fake blood that adorns her cleavage. Her hair is probably curled underneath a petite nurse’s cap, and her makeup is photoshoot-ready despite her gory arms and ripped uniform.
Another woman, also open to attention, wears tennis shoes and athletic leggings. A small, dark bloodstain peeks out from her thighs as she jogs the London Marathon. Several of the people who notice are shocked and repulsed by her bloody thighs—by the visual representation of her womanhood. This may be the scariest dichotomy of the year, despite the ghouls and ghosts that fill the month of October.
Kiran Gandhi is a 26-year-old graduate of Harvard Business School who made waves on the internet after she ran 26.2 miles while menstruating. It wasn’t an elaborate plan to send her into infamy, just a last-minute decision made as she considered global accessibility to feminine care and public stigma of the female body. In her quest for personal comfort and public awareness, she found both praise and snide remarks on her perceived vulgarity.
Gandhi’s decision is one of the first major public acts to ignite conversation around menstruation and feminine care that doesn’t unfold through hushed whispers. Similar to the #FreeTheNipple campaign, #FreeBleeding pushes for public acceptance of periods and respect for the female body over objectification.
It’s an unfortunate reality that it’s become easier to accept sexy over natural. The Halloween Nurse is a prime and common example. In both cases, the woman had bloody thighs for all to see; yet the messages they sent were in complete opposition.
Gandhi hit the nail on the head in an email she wrote to People: “You see, culture is happy to speak about and objectify the parts of the body that can be sexually consumed by others, but the moment we talk about something that is not for the enjoyment of others, like a period, everyone becomes deeply uncomfortable.”
Progress surrounding discussions and public views of the female body are likely going to outlast this year’s candy-fueled comas, but keeping the topic alive is one of the sweetest treats for women today. As Gandhi says, we should continue testing our own boundaries of comfort.
“What would happen if you ask for a tampon from a friend in a normal voice instead of a whisper?”
Hopefully, this question will become just as loud as the other subjects perpetuated by barely-there Halloween costumes.
Cover image courtesy of The Mirror.