By Brooklyn White.
This month, Cupcakke retweeted and commented on a video showing a woman bathing in someone’s backyard, using their hose. In the original video, the homeowner is visibly offended by the woman’s nudity, mocking her and saying, “I didn’t go down there because obviously she’s dangerous and doesn’t give a fuck about anything!”
It struck a chord in me and I wondered why the person mocked the woman and called her dangerous instead of helping. Even offering a towel could’ve humanized her. Yeah, some Twitter users called me ‘fake woke’ when I responded to this video, but I don’t care. I know what it’s like to not have housing, and I know how much harder it is as a person with a uterus.
While staying in a Brooklyn shelter for women 18-25, I had 4 periods. I was one of the nearly 40 young women there who was trying to turn their lives around. I believe we were given pads initially, but beyond that, we had to get our own products. It was difficult and exposed me to the intersection of capitalism and gender. This experience, CupcakKe’s words, and thinking about perceptions of homeless people (my hometown has referred to them as “a problem”), pushed me to create Project Period as a way to provide period products for homeless individuals. I was shocked by the response I received–it almost seemed like people were waiting on something like this to start in Shreveport.
A little over a week ago, rapper Rico Nasty announced that she was starting a period drive of her own. In a news piece about her initiative, Paper Magazine shared, “There's no super precise figure of the annual cost [due to variables]. However, Huffington Post estimated that the average menstruator racks up a total of $1,800 per year for tampons alone, while Jezebel reported that menstruators’ ...lifetime estimate for pads or tampons [is] around $2,200.”
Homeless individuals (I say individuals because homeless trans men can have periods) don’t have $2000, especially not for period products. Having accessibility to these items is crucial to people’s self esteem, and a lack of access may play a part in their search for jobs. Would you feel confident going in for a job interview knowing that you’re on your period and you don’t have pads or clean underwear? Absolutely not. This issue takes a toll on people’s minds, on their bodies. For instance, sometimes people don’t know when they’ll be able to get another tampon, so they’ll leave one in for way too long, risking toxic shock syndrome.
It doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why I’m so dedicated to Project Period.
Homelessness isn’t something that’s specific to my city. Right now, Project Period is expanding–we have bases in California, New York, and Italy. Here are a few ways you can be a part of it:
1. You can make and hand out your own kits by buying pads/tampons/diva cups, wipes, candy, hand sanitizer, water, and unopened underwear.
(Try to get a variety of sizes when it comes to underwear and pads because no one needs to walk around in ill fitting anything.)
2. You can also make a few kits and ship them to us. For more information, reach out at email@example.com.
3. Donate to Project Period via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our goal is to provide comfort and contribute to the humanization of homeless people. It’s sad that the idea of humanizing people is even a thing, but here we are.