Medicine Hat College third-year art students Alyssa Fonteyne, Jenna Maertz, Jorden MacPhee, and Katelyn Richard were the group that spearheaded the Period Poverty campaign this year, using the theme Bleeding Us Dry.
The campaign ran for two weeks from, Nov. 1-15.
“We were more behind the scenes,” said Maertz. “We were thinking about how ‘Bleeding Us Dry’ connects to money and how it (menstruation) literally bleeds us dry of money.”
Richard wanted to play on that idea and of women having to decide between buying food, household items, bills or buying period products.
“We came up with the idea of begging on the streets for period products instead of for money,” she said. “That’s where we got the idea for the campaign. We really liked the idea of the cardboard sign. We used that as our booster throughout the campaign.”
At first the group did a photoshoot but their instructor, Ian Richmond, really liked the sign so they went with that.
“We took pictures of people around the community (with the sign) and did a blurb of their story of how they can relate to it (period poverty),” said Maertz.
The signs were all made by hand because the group liked the homemade feel of it. For each person they photographed, they added a different slogan, such as: ‘on the rag,’ or ‘that time of the month.’
MacPhee discussed how embarrassing it is that men shun the topic or won’t buy menstrual products.
“There aren’t many guys in our program to begin with so I’m surrounded by women,” said MacPhee. “Katelyn is my girlfriend and she suffers from some menstrual stuff. I see it all the time. I grew up with my mom and sister in the household. Seeing all of this and seeing how scared some guys are to talk about it or go buy period products, it sucks. It’s quite literally no different than buying cotton balls, it’s just a product in a box.”
Fonteyne is passionate about the topic and identifies with the struggle women have.
“I don’t think periods should be stigmatized and it’s frustrating to see people shy away from it or be embarrassed by it,” she said. “I don’t think men should make a big deal about it. It’s just a normal human function and lots of people go through it. I was really happy to be part of the campaign.”
The goal of the yearly campaign is to spread awareness along with raising money or donated menstrual products that can be given to the Root Cellar for distribution to the wider community. At the time of writing the total amount raised from this year’s campaign wasn’t known.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News