Steph Gongora, a yoga instructor in Austin, Texas, posted an Instagram video last week that shows her bleeding through white pants while doing yoga.
More than 364,000 views and 6,000 comments later, people are conflicted about whether they like the bold way Gongora made a stand against menstrual shame.
Some people are disturbed by the image, others inspired by what they consider a powerful stand.
“You can’t unsee it, nor should you,” noted Cosmopolitan.
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Gongora posted the video with a long essay that begins: “I am a woman, therefore, I bleed.
“It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s terrible, & it’s beautiful. And yet, you wouldn’t know. Because I hide it. I bury things at the bottom of the trash. I breathe, ragged and awkward through the cramps, all the while holding onto this tight lipped, painted on smile.
“Tampons? Shhh. We don’t say those words out loud. Hide them. In the back pocket of your purse, in the corner of the bathroom drawer, at the very bottom of your shopping cart (please let me get a female cashier).”
A period-themed movement to fight the stigma of menstruation has sprung to life over the last couple of years as women talk openly, zealously and passionately about their menstrual cycles on Twitter, Instagram, blogs and YouTube videos.
In 2015 M.I.A. drummer Kiran Gandhi ran a marathon without a tampon to raise awareness about women around the world who don’t have access to feminine products.
Gongora decries that dilemma, too.
“Over 100 million young women around the globe miss school or work for lack of adequate menstrual supplies and fear of what might happen if the world witnesses a natural bodily function,” she wrote. “Why?”
But the negative reaction to her video has been sharp. Some of the backlash echoes nasty comments made about singer Madison Beer last month.
Paparazzi photographed her on a Miami beach wearing a white bikini accidentally stained with menstrual blood. Critics slammed her for wearing white during her period and some people called her “gross.”
“This is so wild that this is a big deal to some people,” the 17-year-old Beer shot back on Instagram.
“Girls get their periods. Girls sometimes bleed thru tampons because periods can be extremely unpredictable! If you’re saying it’s gross, uncleanly, etc etc u should probs get your head outta your ass and focus on bigger damn issues other than someone having a period stain. I am not a robot. I am a female. I am a human & I am proud.”
Some people have similarly slammed Gongora.
“Not everything must be seen,” one person wrote on her Instagram.
“We should probably start taking pics of ourselves taking poops n post it on the internet.... You know ... because it’s natural.” wrote another.
She has equally vocal strong supporters, too.
“Good for you, you are a (woman), who cares what anyone says or thinks,” wrote one woman.
“Hope these comments are fueling your fight ... they’re proving just how important it is to de-stigmatize,” wrote another.
Gongora challenged women to stop being embarrassed “to bleed.”
“Start talking about it,” she wrote. “Educate your daughters. Make them understand that it can be both an inconvenience and a gift, but never something to be ashamed about.
“Educate your sons so they don’t recoil from the word ‘tampon,’ so when a girl bleeds through her khaki shorts in third period (pun intended), they don’t perpetuate the cycle of shame and intolerance.”