Introducing "At Home with Snuggs" – a series that revolves around individuals sharing their genuine and authentic menstruation experiences.
This month we chat with Talycia, a model and UK period charity and social enterprise worker. Talycia chats us through how the world isn’t built for people who menstruate and having conversations with cis men about menstruation.
Q1- To begin with, would you mind introducing yourself, and giving us a brief overview of you, your work and what you are all about?
Of course! My name’s Talycia, my pronouns are she/her and I work for a social enterprise and charity that looks to change conversations around periods, and I’m a model!
I get that they sound like two very different things in two very different worlds, but for me I try to have a common silver thread running through anything I do. I didn’t really realise it until now, but both things definitely come back to this strong desire I have to change the narrative around how people that look like me are perceived in these spaces.
I’ve always found that ‘women’s’ charities have traditionally been catered to cis, white women, and that the beauty standard (at least in the UK) has always been, well, not me! I really like the way that both the environments I’m in are actively working to change that, so I love being a part of disrupting the flow.
Q2. You work for a period charity; what drew you to working for a cause that is so rooted in beating menstrual stigmas, supporting people with periods?
I really didn’t expect myself to work for a cause like this. Growing up, I was always taught that periods were not something you talk about, except for with the women in your close family. Even then, I bore witness to so much misinformation surrounding periods; I distinctly remember overhearing conversations about people that use tampons were seen as shameful and less pure (because tampons are penetrative).
I honestly don’t ever remember having truly informative conversations about vaginal and menstrual health until some of my really good school friends started having sex! Through one friend in particular, I learnt about different contraceptive options, how they can help with period pain management and which ones were the most/least invasive. Thank goodness I had her, because 16 year-old me was going through it with her periods and I absolutely didn’t know there was support out there.
I compare those conversations to the sheltered upbringing that I, and a lot of other Indian girls experienced and think, no wonder why I was drawn to this kind of work! Telling people I work for a period charity feels naughty, like I’m breaking rules and I’m wading through layers of opinions and stigma just by telling people what I do - I love that the cause is so simple, yet so impactful. I genuinely relish in having those conversations now, I like watching how people react.
Q3. How does your own relationship with your period dictate this work?
My periods have always been, shit. As soon as my periods started, I experienced terrible cramps, nausea and fainting. I used to call in sick from work, leave school unannounced and hide in the nearest bathroom.
I have always dreaded the person I become when I bleed. I have a way shorter fuse, I’m depressed and in a hell of a lot of pain. It is completely the opposite to my personality on any other week.
This work has allowed me to be more open to people about my experience, as well as forgive that part of myself for not being perfect. I usually hide away for a week and a half when I have my period, but now I find that I’m able to open up conversations with people about these experiences, whether that’s with colleagues, with friends or with random people on the train! I’m more able to say how I feel, what I need and that I might need some flexibility.
This work has 100% provided me with the confidence to communicate how the rhetoric I was fed from society has impacted my view of periods and womanhood as a whole. I think I genuinely thought I was less of a woman because I couldn’t handle my period, as well as everything else that those that menstruate have to hold.
Q4. As someone deeply connected to period experiences through your work, what advice would you give to others seeking a more mindful and comfortable period experience?
Try everything! Until I started working in this space, I hadn’t ever experienced a period that I looked forward to. Now, I’m counting down the days till my period starts because I have period pants to try, or a tens machine, or a new herbal tea to soothe my stomach. The days of periods with just disposable pads/tampons are wayyy behind me!
On a serious note, I’m extremely privileged to be able to try new ways to manage my period and this wasn’t always the case! The point is for you to create a ritual that will allow you space and time to get what you need. It might even be useful to sit and figure out what actually provides you comfort as a first port of call.
Q5. In your work, you likely encounter clients with varying menstrual experiences. How do you think open conversations about periods contribute to a more supportive and understanding community?
This world isn’t built for people that menstruate right? Let alone people with varying menstrual health experiences e.g. endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS etc. Unfortunately, this means there is a degree of work we have to do to advocate for ourselves. This shouldn’t be the case, and there are so many people working to change this. I think the best thing I can advise is to have conversations with people. Talk to others in your life that menstruate, talk to your doctor to make sure that you’re able to manage your experiences while menstruating in a way that feels right for you.
Finally, speak to your loved ones about your experience, they might know in theory what you’re going through, but the reality could be lost on them if they don’t menstruate, or if they have manageable periods/ take contraceptives. I’ve honestly seen first-hand the ripple effect that happens when you start to talk about taboo topics like periods, I really can’t think of another more impactful way to enact change in communities.
I also want to add, if you’re in an environment where you can’t talk about these things because of culture or your environment, please do find support through a GP, sexual health nurse or therapist. I think it’s really important that people feel heard and validated, especially when it comes to periods.
Q6- When are you most connected with your body?
When I’m in water! I love taking a shower or bath, swimming and floating in a body of water. I feel so at peace and comfortable in my skin. I also love how I feel on holiday which is probably where a lot of the swimming connectedness comes in.
I love the way my skin glows, the way my curls flourish and how my body feels nourished on a hot summer holiday. I think the last time I felt that way was when I stayed in Australia with my family for a few months earlier this year. I’m a summer baby so I’m forever chasing for the next opportunity to bask in the sunlight.
Q7- At Snuggs everything we do is rooted in the act of kindness. How are you kind to yourself, others and the planet?
I try my best to be as kind as I can. I think kindness can take so many forms. It can be giving someone a compliment or being that friend that tells someone they have spinach in their teeth. I love celebrating people, so whenever I can I will take the opportunity to tell my nearest and dearest that I’m proud of them, even if it’s just for taking a shower that day.
I think navigating this world is exhausting, so whenever you can be kind, it’s worth it. In terms of the planet, again, I try my best. I buy lots of my clothes secondhand, I fix things that break and my friends and I share clothes a lot. I’m a vegetarian that hates wasting food so I try to cook as mindfully as I can and I love to cook fresh, local produce when I can.
Q8- Could you share any rituals or self-care routines you follow during your menstrual cycle?
The week before I start my period, I find that I am SO uncontrollably hungry. I think this has to do with the drop in progesterone. I tend to bake a lot when this time of the month comes around for me. I’m on my period as I’m writing, so for example, last night I baked a batch of oat chocolate chip cookies and I’ve probably eaten about 6.
I’ve made banana bread, lemon drizzle cakes and apple crumbles before too. There’s no food restriction at all during this time, I let myself eat whatever my body craves because I know as soon as my period comes I’ll lose my appetite due to the nauseaI experience! I’m usually a savoury kind of girl too, so I know when I start feeling the desire to bake that my period is going to come soon!
Q9- Can you describe your personal journey with your menstrual cycle and how it intersects with your day to day life.
I’ve started to take the steps to talk to my GP about my periods. I know that the pain I experience is outside of the realm of a medically normal period, but I’ve always been scared of going to get help in fear of being brushed aside as so many other women of colour have been.
I’ve had a number of appointments, ultrasounds and examinations and we’ve ruled out everything but endometriosis I believe, but that’s a really invasive and difficult process to get diagnosed. I’ve decided to focus on pain management for now to see how it goes;I might pick up the gynaecological chats with my GP in 2024.
Q10- How has your understanding of your own menstrual experience influenced your perspective on menstruation in a broader context?
I’ve realised that everyone has a period story! We all experience menstruation in different ways; some people have a 3 day period with light bleeding, and others have 5 days, migraines and nausea. The fact that every period is different is what makes working in the period equity space so interesting.
Additionally, I’ve started to have some really lovely conversations with cis men about how they’ve been brought up to understand periods - how they wish they weren’t sheltered from conversations - and it’s been really interesting to hear about the way it's perceived on the outside looking in. I remember being split off into groups based on our sex in school to learn about periods while the boys learnt about condom use.
I remember wishing that we all learnt the same thing at the same time so we all knew everything! I think I’ve realised that there’s so much value in being open to listening to differing experiences on the same topic to understand why people approach things the way they do - even if they don’t directly experience menstruation.
Additionally, I think making a platform for people that are underrepresented in period conversations and the impact that has (e.g. trans men & non-binary people) would really help us as people further the impact we could have in raising awareness and campaigning for wraparound provision for everyone that experiences periods. I do believe that there are some organisations that do this well, but there could always be more.