The PERIOD PURSE
The women featured below are real women living on the streets of Toronto. They generously and candidly participated in this project to give us a firsthand account of what menstruation is like when you don’t have the means to purchase sanitary products. This project is for the Period Purse organization that fights for menstrual equity. Interviews were done with Janet Nielsen - these interviews resulted in the launch of an exciting ongoing fundraiser.
There’s already so much to worry about on the street and our periods make it even worse. When I get mine, I usually use toilet paper, but it doesn’t work very well. It soaks through way faster than a pad, and doesn’t stay put, which causes leaks. When that happens to me, I go to the thrift store and steal new pants. I’m not proud of that but what else am I going to do?
I often use clothing, like old shirts and socks, to absorb period blood. I put three or four socks into another sock and use it for as long as I can, then throw it out. Or squish a roll of toilet paper down and use that. Nothing works very well though, so we end up leaking through our clothes. There’s a lot of shame about that. My trick is to wear a pair of bicycle shorts over my underwear and under my pants so the sock or toilet paper doesn’t fall out down my leg.
When I get my period I’ll do anything to get my hands on pads or tampons – usually I end up stealing. I’m not proud of it, but you do what you have to do. Lots of women use other stuff, but it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t get my period consistently every month due to drug use. To be honest, the months I don’t get it are easier. One less thing to worry about, you know?
There’s a stigma about having your period on the street. We feel ashamed and worry about getting sanitary products. Many use toilet paper but in my experience it just doesn’t work. I figured out that I could get pads and tampons from my doctor and a few other places, but most people don’t know where to go. It would be such a weight off our shoulders to have the supplies we need.