Manon is 32 years old and is studying for a Master's degree in French Sign Language Interpretation. Manon talks to us about periods, PMS and how it impacts her life. Discover Manon's portrait!
Why did you decide to take part in an Elia shoot?
"I liked the idea that it was people who aren't used to being photographed. That we could also present different bodies, bodies in all their diversity."
Do you think there's a taboo around periods ?
"I had my periods pretty early on, I was 11. I didn't really know who to turn to when it m'happened, apart from my mother. I think it's something that's still not talked about enough, that's still connected to a person with a uterus. These are the reactions I've had: "No, no, I don't need to know all the details". I think it's a shame because it's something that's natural. If we talked about it more, we'd be a little more prepared for certain things. Particularly when it comes to pain and premenstrual syndromes, which I discovered very late in life. In my family, we don't really have any taboos. We talk about a lot of things. I have a good relationship with my father and mother, but I think that for my father, it's something that makes him a little uncomfortable. I've never been able to talk about it with my dad, and I think that's a shame. It's part of my life. Every month. I wish I could have discussed it with him, but I never tried because I know he would have been very uncomfortable with the subject. And I think that if I'd had to ask him to go m'buy sanitary protection, he'd have been completely at a loss, he wouldn't have known what to choose, he wouldn't have been able m'to help. You have to talk about it, even with the very young, you have to explain it to them, from the earliest age, to boys, to girls, to everyone."
Do you have any recommendations for s'information on periods ?
"As a teenager, I was alone on the subject, apart from my mother. We didn't really talk about it with our girlfriends. It was only later, when I started to m'get a bit interested in the subject, that I came across some reports. Particularly one s'called "28 jours" which m'interested me. Then another on the composition of menstrual protection which m'had shocked me a little and which m'made me think about it all. The Instagram account @spmtamere m'also helped a lot. I felt a little less alone. I'd recommend it to anyone."
Can you tell us about PMS (premenstrual syndrome)?
"Very early on, as I had severe pain, I was put on contraception (around 15-16 years old) with the aim of easing my pain during my cycles. No one m'explained at all what this could create at hormonal level etc... When I stopped my hormonal contraception a few years ago, I found myself with a natural cycle. I started to suffer from pre-menstrual syndromes. No one m'd ever told me about them. I felt it was cyclical, these periods when I wasn't feeling well, when I was more anxious. They kept coming back, so I started to m'get interested. I learned that it swas called premenstrual syndrome. While doing a little research I came across the Instagram account @spmtamere and I thought "ok actually I'm not alone". Because it fluctuates. There are cycles where I'll be very annoyed, cycles where I'll be very anxious. A few days before periods. And I couldn't stand hearing this stuff any longer... Because when you're a bit irritated, a bit too hypersensitive, people say "oh my, what's wrong with you, do you have your periods ?" Well, yes, actually! Yes, I'm going to have them and that has an influence on me. It's normal and actually it's not serious. It's like a reproach you can't control. We do what we can with it, and we're the first to suffer."
How do you live your cycle?
"Since I've had my periods, I've always had very regular cycles, which I think is lucky. I can plan ahead, I know roughly when PMS is going to start, I know when I'm going to have my periods. In that respect, I'm lucky. And now with certain menstrual cycle tracking apps, it's even more convenient. I don't have too many problems with my cycle, I know when it's going to happen. I live it pretty well."
Do you experience any pain during your periods ?
"Very early on, in middle school, whenever I had my periods I had very, very strong pains that mprevented me from being in class. I would faint, so I made regular trips to the infirmary. Sometimes I had the impression that someone was saying to me: "Oh, it's okay,... Maybe you're overdoing it a bit". But it was really unbearable. I was m'put on contraception. It m'helped. However, they didn't m'warn me about all the things that went with it. In particular the loss of libido etc... That wasn't explained to me. I didn't make the connection right away. When I decided to stop taking hormonal contraception because I didn't want that for my body, I got all my natural sensations back. It was good to reclaim my body, but I had to deal with the pain again. That's still my problem today: I don't know what to do about the pain. It's the same, it can go as far as fainting. It depends on the cycle. It's hard to say to yourself, "I've got a really important course, it falls during my periods, am I going to be able to do it?" "Yes, no, I don't know. It's a bit difficult to manage on that side, yes."
What do you think of Elia's menstrual panties?
"This has been the good news of the last few years. It's the appearance of panties from periods. It's the first brand I've tried and I'm really pleased. It's part of the same process of reappropriating the body. Because blood flows naturally, I feel it's more natural for me. And it's also very comfortable. Because there are no incidental things to deal with. I don't have to think, "Do I have enough protection for the day? I put my panties on in the morning, just like a normal pair of panties. I take them off when I get home in the evening. And at night... At night it's wonderful! I'm no longer afraid of turning on my side. No, it's just incredibly comfortable and practical. I like the philosophy: all the materials are organic, and there's the fight against endometriosis. These are things that touch me. So for me, these panties are perfect."
Do you have a piece of advice or a mantra you'd like to share?
"I'd say listen to yourself. STo listen and communicate... For me, that's the most important thing."
If you had to sum up your portrait or your struggle in one word?
"So this might sound a bit weird, but I think I'll choose Aries. My astrological sign. It sums up my personality pretty well."