Do you find it offensive?
Menstruation is a huge part of being a woman. Remember how it felt the first time you got your period? Was it scary or did your mother walk you through what you'd be dealing with for the next 40 odd years? What about the times when you waited to see if you got your period because you wanted to know if you were pregnant or not? Did you have easy periods or periods with not only pain but a ton of blood?'
More than once, I got my period at school while wearing white pants — always a shock — and I had to go home and change. I was so afraid that whenever I had my period, someone would know. I bought all kinds of products to hide the scent.
We've been taught that having a period is shameful and dirty, yet it's a natural part of being a woman. This feeling of shame has been passed down throughout the generations and is still going on.
British jewelry designer, Lili Murphy-Johnson, was recently banned from Etsy for her period-blood themed jewelry, but that's not going to stop her from designing and selling her important work.
"Periods are stigmatized in our culture from a long history of superstition and inequality for women," Murphy-Johnson said on her website. "There is an interesting conflict with the perception of the female body, being seen as so perfect, yet also as so grotesque and unclean."
Murphy-Johnson wants to show that periods aren't gross and that they aren't something to be ashamed of or humiliated by.
"My collection is inspired by menstruation, and the frustrating, leaking female body," she says. "Comprising of three prominent stages of menstruation, my collection focuses on the hormonal mood swings that makes up premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS; the 'periods paraphernalia' being tampons, sanitary towels, soaps, wipes, and the many products that are provided to women help manage their periods, and lastly the blood itself."
This is probably the prettiest menstrual pad you'll ever see.
"Periods aren't something that happens on accident, " Murphy-Johnson said in an interview with Cosmopolitan. "I want this to be something that [people] actually choose to show, reclaim, and say, 'Yeah, I have periods. Everyone does and this is my jewelry."'
However, Murphy-Johnson's vision and bold collection hasn't gone over so well with everybody. Her collection was banned from Etsy after they deemed some of her images inappropriate.
"I was surprised because I didn't think my work was at all offensive. Even if you didn't like it, I didn't think it was something that should be banned. I felt like I was being told that I was doing something wrong or that I'd done something disgusting, forcing people to look at something they shouldn't have to, which annoyed me. I know that wasn't true. I was mostly surprised they reacted like that and that they didn't let me sell my jewelry," she says.
Murphy-Johnson's line of crystal-encrusted handmade pieces are priced from $38 to $1,265, but she's in the process of making pieces that are more affordable and wearable. She's also not limited to menstruation collections and plans to do more pieces inspired by the awkward parts of the body that aren't always appreciated or noticed.
All photos: Instagram.com and Lili Murphy-Johnson
To all the people who believe that her jewelry is disgusting and shouldn't be seen, Murphy-Johnson says, "Don't judge it too quickly. They [haters] should think about what menstruation actually is and what my jewelry is saying. Is it really wrong? Does it really need to be something that you're offended by? It's simply the reflection of my experiences with periods."
Art is in the eye of the beholder, and while period jewelry may not seem beautiful to you, Murphy-Johnson hasn't created anything that should be considered ugly, disgusting or taboo. It's merely her expression of what having a period is all about and trying to see it in a beautiful artistic way.