This post was written by Eleanor Owens. I asked her to write a bit about how having a period impacts her at work…
Physical labour is required of me day in day out – I can’t really afford to take 3-5 days off each month because I have my period. When you’re on your period, it can make it harder to go to work as you’re more fatigued and generally uncomfortable. Work I have to do includes prolonged standing, using my stomach muscles and bending/stooping down. These kinds of activities can have negative impacts on your body whilst you’re menstruating; 4-6 hours of excessive exercise per day requires a lot of energy. This means that I have to consume healthy and nourishing foods that will fuel my body correctly; without this, it could cause long term problems. No one wants to endure such problems if they can be avoided.
Manual labour is stereotyped as a “man’s job”. As I identify as a woman, therefore not conforming to this stereotype, some wrongly assume I am ‘weaker’ and less capable of doing the work. I have to fight this ideology every day and constantly prove I am more than capable to my clients; this becomes considerably harder when I am inhibited by my period once a month. I don’t want to be given ‘allowances’ by kind clients when I am struggling as it makes me feel patronised; especially when I am already fighting to compete in my male dominated industry.
As a start-up business I don’t have all the power tools used in horticulture that would potentially make life easier on the job. This increases my manual work load and clients often tell me they’d rather ‘get a man in’ than trust my skill level. This is increasingly frustrating. How am I meant to prove them wrong whilst battling my period that can make me feel weak and defeated?
On the plus side, there are many benefits of exercising whilst you’re menstruating as it relieves cramping, pain and bloating by regulating blood circulation throughout your body. I often feel happier and I find it easier to sleep after working through my period. Working outside allows me to walk and stretch, removing most cramping pain; unlike people who remain sat down in an office throughout their period whom don’t have the opportunity to stretch and walk about as much. Working in the fresh air also extinguishes head aches and any feelings of sickness.
I am very lucky to work in the sector I do, but I am still learning how to make it more comfortable whilst I am on my period. I am exploring alternatives to tampons such as using a moon cup; as it is so much better for your body and the environment. I am also keen to voice the issues I’ve touched on today for other people who have periods in my industry.
About Eleanor Owens
Eleanor started her business in 2015, delivering garden maintenance and design services in West Sussex. She is passionate about challenging the sexist practices within the Horticulture industry and is also keen to inspire young people to get involved in gardening.
Check out her website and follow her on twitter @eogardening.
If you would like to contribute your own piece or share your ideas, let us know in the comments or tweet them to me: @maldrichwincer.