British triathlete and world number seven Emma Pallant-Browne has won widespread praise for her response to a comment on a photo showing her period.
The image from the PTO European Open in Ibiza was commented on by an Instagram user, who said: “Not the most flattering pic… surely you can crop it a bit better.”
And that prompted Pallant-Browne to respond: “Thanks for caring but definitely something I’m not shy to talk about because it’s the reality of females in sport.
“My period comes over a month in between and there will be one day where it is super heavy, I pray it won’t be race day but every now and then it is. No matter what tampon I have experimented with, for anything over 3hrs it’s too heavy.
“So just as someone might get gut issues in a race I have to suck it up and give what I have and not be afraid to talk to women who have the same problem.”
Periods ‘just part of life’
@thefemaleathleteproject, which has nearly 50,000 Instagram followers and has the stated aim of “increasing the visibility of women in sport”, put the original post (from @katee.gray) together with the comment and Pallant-Browne’s response to produce this.
That significantly amplified the reach and has clearly struck a chord as many both inside and outside the sport were quick to praise Pallant-Browne’s honesty.
Renee Kiley, a fellow pro triathlete who competed at IRONMAN 70.3 Challenge St. Pölten at the weekend, replied on the original post: “I literally just posted a story about my race performance yesterday and the impact of time of month.
“And was sh*tying myself about saying it but wanted to be honest. Totally need to normalize conversations about it because it really shouldn’t be awkward or a huge deal at all. Just part of life.”
And on Twitter, Paralympian Stef Reid MBE said: “We see photos of athletes all the time with bruises and blood. Why should this one draw shame?”
No longer a taboo subject
Another high-profile triathlete in Germany’s Laura Philipp has done much – as have others – to try and make sure it’s not a taboo subject anymore.
She has spoken in detail about the athletic challenge posed by her menstrual cycle, saying: “I’m glad I started doing this, I can encourage more women to be open to speak with their coaches about their cycle and their needs and start reading books and studies about it.”
Both Philipp and Pallant-Browne were in winning form last weekend, Pallant-Browne following up her fast-finishing fourth in Ibiza with a victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence while Philipp defended her 70.3 Kraichgau crown.