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Periods are a bloody mess, both literally and figuratively.

After all, part of the body is actually shedding itself. It's uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and often annoying. But for women, it's just life; billions of us deal with it on the regular.

And yet, discussing menstruation is still often considered taboo, impolite, or just plain gross. And this lack of open, honest conversation can cost people with periods a lot of money every single day.


In most states, pads, tampons, and cups are taxed like luxuries and not necessities. Eyebrow-raising myths, jokes, and stereotypes about pre-menstrual syndrome and menstruation continue to circulate. The big brands don't even show or mention period blood in commercials for products used to catch and absorb period blood. The shame associated with menstruation is, well, shameful.

Photo by iStock.

That's why Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann decided to spread some period-positivity with their weekly webcomic.

Williams, 24, and Schneemann, 35, met in art school and quickly became friends. Both have had a few frustrating and stressful experiences related to women's health issues. While the women knew they weren't the only ones, they also knew so something needed to be done.

"As we talked about it, we realized that we both felt that more information needs to be available and that periods are something that needs to be talked about more openly to de-stigmatize the whole conversation around women’s reproductive health," Schneemann writes in an e-mail interview.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

The duo started publishing "The Mean Magenta" online in the summer of 2016. It's a heartfelt, funny, and delightfully honest portrayal of modern menstruation that features four characters, each with their own period ups and downs. Schneemann and Williams didn't schedule an official launch or lavish marketing blitz, so their fanbase has grown organically. Why does it work? Because, finally, there's a digital space to laugh, joke, and commiserate about having a period.

"What has been really cool has been seeing people warm up to it all. I have loved discussing our comic in person with people and almost always the first reaction is confusion or disgust but once I finish explaining, or they follow along online for a few weeks, they are also excited by 'The Mean Magenta' in the end," Williams writes in an e-mail interview. "That’s the point, right? Discussing periods openly makes the unknown more normalized."

There's a comic for every menstruation moment. Here are six of my favorites.

1. You never forget your first period, even if you'd prefer not to.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

2. Before long, you prepare for each one like you're packing for a camping trip. ("Better safe than sorry.")

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

3. Which often leads to a little something accidentally tumbling out of your purse. It happens.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

4. Periods are often uncomfortable. But most days, you just have to grin and bear it.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

5. Even when you can stretch out, it doesn't mean you can find relief.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

6. But no matter your experience, just remember you're not alone.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

Whether or not you menstruate, you can do your part to be period-positive.

Don't shut down or shy away from conversations about periods. This comic shows that we need period-positive people now more than ever.

"Period positive people come in all shapes and sizes with all different temperaments. Take care of yourself, speak out in the way you can, and do not compare yourself to others in your learning process," Lily writes. "Someone may be out there spreading period positivity by shouting from the rooftops, others may be getting legislation passed, or making art with their blood. However, it is OK if your form of period positivity is discussing menstruation for the first time with a friend, or wearing a uterus pin in public. Period positive warriors come from all walks of life and every single one is important."

You can be a period-positive warrior without a tampon bazooka, but it doesn't hurt. Image by iStock.

Looking for other ways to help? Buy a box of pads or tampons to donate to a local homeless shelter. Talk to your elected officials about lifting the "tampon tax" and keeping birth control free and readily available. (It can do wonders for people with painful or inconsistent periods.) Or just be a friendly ear, a safe person to have open, honest conversations with.

"I think Lily and I both hope that our comic helps people to feel a little less alone," Schneemann writes. "We’re all in this together."

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Dyslexic plumber gets a life-changing boost after his friend built an app that texts for him

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via Pixabay

An artist's depiction of artificial intelligence.

There is a lot of mistrust surrounding the implementation of artificial intelligence these days and some of it is justified. There's reason to worry that deep-fake technology will begin to seriously blur the line between fantasy and reality, and people in a wide range of industries are concerned AI could eliminate their jobs.

Artists and writers are also bothered that AI works on reappropriating existing content for which the original creators will never receive compensation.

The World Economic Forum recently announced that AI and automation are causing a huge shake-up in the world labor market. The WEF estimates that the new technology will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. However, the news isn’t all bad. It also said that its analysis anticipates the “future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs.”

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


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So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

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