6 Photographers On What Their Period Means To Them

People often have mixed feelings about their periods, and their relationships with their time-of-the-month change throughout their lives.
So, we commissioned six photographers to create a single image that captures what menstruation means to them right now. And, put together, the resulting photos capture the nuanced feelings many people have about their periods — from the crimson waves of emotion, to the stigmatization of menstruation, to the connection to bodily function, to femininity and/or sexuality.
Ahead, take a look at the photographers' images and their accompanying personal stories.
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Adrienne Raquel

"I remember getting my first period in eighth grade — it was the moment I had been waiting for! All of the excitement that I had came to a halt on that day. I was afraid, embarrassed, and somewhat ashamed by the thought of bleeding. Now that I've grown older, my time of the month is no longer a topic of shame. Although my period has brought on a whirlwind of lethal cramps and crazy mood swings, I've grown to recognize its beauty. I've come to the realization that my period is not only a representation of my femininity — it is also the representation of new life, restoration, and growth."
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Ana Cuba

"My period was never something I paid special attention to. I have always been lucky enough not to experience any pain or cramps, so it would always come by surprise, and if lucky, I would be wearing my beautiful and unsexy collection of period underwear that week. But a couple of years ago, I lost my period for over half a year. It just didn't come, probably as a result of unhealthy eating plus high levels of stress. I missed it so much. I remember it came back on January 1, 2015, and it was the best Christmas present I could have. Since then, I must say I'm very happy to see it coming every month."
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Photographed by Chloe Sheppard. With thanks to Palais flowers.
Chloe Sheppard

"My period is a reminder that my body is working as it should. It's irritating and most of the time I wish it was something I didn't have to deal with, but in the end it's just a way of my body getting rid of what it doesn't need and starting fresh. When I was asked to shoot a photograph interpreting menstruation, what came into my head was that idea — of my body ridding itself of stuff and what that stuff is. The phrase 'fruit of the womb' rang in my head, and I'm not sure why or where I'd heard it before, but I wanted to take that phrase quite literally and use fruits in the photo. 'Fruit of the womb' works because, essentially, our periods are the fruit of our wombs (of course, a baby is a more logical example). It's what grows inside of us and what our body produces. I know so many people who are disgusted by periods and the idea of them, so I wanted to create an image that was visually pleasing but still represents what a period means to me."
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Frederike Wetzels

"I have been taking [hormonal birth control] for almost 15 years now. I never had a normal cycle. This is my last contraceptive ring. It wasn't an easy decision, as I am so used to all its advantages, but it just didn’t feel right anymore. I am now looking forward to discovering how my body works naturally."
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Rosaline Shahnavaz

"I photographed T with the moon. For me, my menstrual cycle is a monthly celebration of love, sex, and new life. And it inspired the poem below."

Saturday came up with the feeling of lead again

Blooming inside the veins on your right hand
The color of lead
Better still cutting mercury and peering down
Glistening silver for the spilt second, you took from me
I bloom with the moon
Pulled left and right, running cycles of the slowest dials
He looks at me with all the silver light, dousing me in pickle that morning
That silver rising to my many surfaces
Rosie you're glowing!
Simin repeats fortnightly
Rosie you're glowing
The lightest silver of the moon, yes
Told in Farsi, the poetics are lost
On him the darkness
Flooding me
And ignoring the blood
Ignoring the heat
The sweat
We're our coldest still
Looking at you
Sparking up a source of light
A switch
That dark pitchium
Quickly and abruptly turns me on a rota
My moon changes me like clay
Looking at the world in a state of flux
My moon changes too
And you provide the source of life
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Steph Wilson

"In Written On The Body, Jeanette Winterson wrote, 'When she bleeds, the smells I know change color. There is iron in her soul on those days. She smells like a gun.'

"Periods are sexy: The freshly metallic scent and the robust crimson red (my favorite part) causes my pupils to dilate, just a little bit, each time I empty my menstrual cup in the shower onto my pink bathroom tiles. I look forward to that morning pour every month, regardless of the excessive bed sheet changes and expensive dark chocolate kitchen restocks. From the abdominal cramps, a reminder of our additional organs and their strange child-bearing objective, to the indulgent self-care rituals we perform as an attempt to neutralize the morose bits, menstruation is a love-hate relationship with our own flesh and blood. I relish it, I detest it; it's just good that my favorite color is red."
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