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We had a chat with OHNE model and period-positive warrior, Krystal, about all things taboo-bustin’, period-having, and what it’s like to be one of the faces of a period product brand (hi, that’s us!) We first met Krystal after she slid into our Insta DMs seeking advice about a project she was working on for her degree – so, of course, when we got back in touch we first wanted to know how that all turned out!
Hey Krystal! So, first things first, tell our readers about your project! What was your intention with it, what form did it take, and what was the inspiration behind focusing on menstruation as a topic to explore in an academic setting?
Hey! The idea behind my crazy final major project was to focus on a subject that is different and sparks debate. Even though I studied fashion promotion and menstruation isn’t directly linked, the subject itself is so significant in the lives of women, I managed to convince my lecturers to support the idea.
The project itself took place as a movement called ‘Seeing Red’ – a name which Nikki & Leah actually helped to choose, thanks huns! The movement is aimed at removing the stigma surrounding menstruation and encouraging conversation as it tends to be a subject we avoid. I created three mini handbooks entitled ‘The Period Series’, each small handbook focused on a different subject about periods. 1. Period- the basics of what a period is. 2. My first period- a collection of women’s first period experiences. 3. A boys guide- an explanation as to how a woman feels on her period (so needed!). I also created a campaign photoshoot, which was super stressful to organise but I was really happy with the outcome. You can see them @im_seeing_red on instagram. I also created a video entitled ‘men & menstruation’ where I put guys’ knowledge to the test about menstruation.
How did your professors react to it – did you get any resistance from them regarding supporting you and encouraging you to push boundaries with your project?
My lecturers supported the idea from the get go! I even considered changing the idea because I felt way in over my head, but I eventually bit the bullet and thought I’d take the risk- and luckily it paid off.
One of my lecturers was a man in his 50’s and when he heard that I had settled on the subject, he was polite about it but you could tell he was uncomfortable. His reaction only encouraged me further to go through with the idea. In my eyes, I couldn’t understand how it can be 2018 and fully grown men are still so unsettled by the word period.
How did you find out about OHNE? And how did that lead to your first meeting with Leah and Nikki?
So when starting out with my project I researched loads of period related companies and sanitary product instagram accounts, just to get ideas towards my project. After seeing the obvious pink-themed accounts a million times, as much as I supported it, I was pretty bored. That’s when OHNE popped up on my feed as an account I may be interested in, and I fell in love with the brand. So, as cliche as it sounds, I slid in their dm’s!
I met Nikki and Leah for a coffee and honestly it was the most helpful chat towards my project. They supported my project from the start and spurred me on to get more guys involved, which gave me the idea for my ‘men and menstruation’ video.
What does the phrase ‘period taboos’ mean to you – what form do they take in society or in the content you consume online, etc?
Period taboo has been an issue since time began! It’s always been seen as a dirty thing and something that we should learn to hide. We teach our children that menstruation is taboo and ladies should be ‘ladies’ and act as if we do not suffer from crippling pain month on month whilst blood and mucus is being released from our bodies!
What’s crazy to me is the fact that, without that process, we simply wouldn’t be here, so surely periods are something to be celebrated?!
When did you first become aware that the way we talk about and treat periods is problematic and potentially damaging to people who experience them?
I realised the second I revealed to my uni class that I wanted to do a whole project on periods. Their reactions made me realise that it really is a problem and there’s no better time than the present to make change happen. It hit me when researching towards the project that, when talking to guys about the subject, some were so disrespectful without even realising it. Even though I personally didn’t feel damaged by some of their comments, I could definitely imagine other girls being hurt by guys opinion of periods. This spurred me on to finalise the project, I needed to make a stand for every woman ever hurt by comments based on menstruation.
Do you feel these taboos affecting your own life or is it something that affected you more when you were younger and that you see affecting others around you?
I don’t feel the taboos affecting my own life as I am more than comfortable talking about periods and believe they are actually a blessing to have. I focus on the facts about menstruation instead of the petty and immature taboos made about them. That being said, I didn’t have that mindset growing up, as society always taught me to be ashamed of bleeding. Its only with my own research and help of companies like OHNE that have made me realise I can’t let such a normal thing be a taboo.
Do you feel comfortable talking to the men in your life about periods – both in a general sense and telling them about your own menstrual cycle, hormones, and symptoms?
YES, YES & YES! I am so comfortable talking about my period with men. When doing the campaign, I found myself going out of my way to talk to guys about periods and how they felt about it. Funnily enough, when I was doing the project, I was dating a guy and I mentioned that I was doing my final project on periods and asked how he felt about it. His response being ‘that’s a bit weird, too much info’. The following week I handed him my ‘boys guide to periods’ handbook, deleted his number and unfollowed him on instagram. Sorry but I can’t be with a guy who is grossed out by periods.
I think that’s the best break up story I’ve ever heard!
I’d love to chat a little bit about your experience modelling with OHNE. The pictures are (of course) absolutely stunning. How did you feel when Leah and Nikki approached you about it? Was it nerve-wracking or empowering?
Why thank you! I’m still surprised they asked me to model for them but I was really flattered by it and there was no way I was gonna say no. I have no modelling experience at all so I can’t lie I was shitting it a little bit, but once I was on the shoot and surrounded by like minded people, I honestly felt so empowered and loved every second. The whole time we were talking about funny period experiences and in the end we were playing ‘who has the most embarrassing period story’. It was hilarious!’
The shoot did look like a lot of fun – what was the experience of working with the other women like? Did you have to confront any insecurities to do the shoot?
Whats not to love about snacks, alcohol and powerful women talking about periods?! The shoot had all of them. It was nice working with other women because we were all different shapes and sizes from all different backgrounds so it was refreshing to hear stories from different women. Personally, I didn’t have any insecurities on the shoot, but I enjoyed supporting some of the other women that weren’t so comfortable being in a bodysuit having to do different body positions in front of a camera. I love giving people the confidence to believe that their bodies.
That’s really inspiring to hear – and we’re so glad you loved the shoot (we did too, obviously!) Now that it’s over, how do you feel about being one of the faces of a period product brand (we won’t be offended if you say you have some misgivings/embarrassment!)
It’s not something I ever imagined would happen but it’s definitely something I am proud of. In my opinion, OHNE is a pioneer in changing attitudes towards menstruation, so to be one of the faces of such a positive brand is so rewarding. We are only at the start of a lengthy journey of removing the taboo, so to be involved from the get go is something I will never be embarrassed about. We are creating the future.
We love your attitude to periods – to close out the interview, I’d love to know what advice you’d give to your younger self or other young girls and people who have periods about how to deal with the stigma and overcome the internalised shame around periods?
Periods are not too weird, too gross or too inappropriate. They are perfectly natural and 50% of the population experience it. So do not feel alone when you want to spend the day in bed crying for no reason or eating endless amounts of junk food cuddled up to a hot water bottle, because trust me it’s all part of the process. Never feel the need to hide the fact you are on your period and be the one to let the conversation flow – after all, it’s a bloody interesting conversation.
A massive thank you to Krystal for this interview and for being the perfect kind of model to represent OHNE and everything we’re fighting for!
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