Art & Design

Celebrate Your Monthly Cycle with ‘Boastful Menstruation Machinery’

Art & Design

Celebrate Your Monthly Cycle with ‘Boastful Menstruation Machinery’


Photography: Catrine Håland 

Creative Direction: Hedieh Anvari

Floral Arrangement: Kasia Borowiecka

Set Design: Kerry Hughes

In the last few years, periods have gone from taboo to all over the web. There’s Maya Rudolph’s Seventh Generation commercials, and artists like Sarah Naqvi, who’s needlepoint designs focus on reclaiming the period for exactly what it is—blood. But what about the other parts? That’s where Hedieh Anvari and Ooh Any Day Now come in. Since last year, Anvari and her site have tried to open the dialogue around menstruation and the monthly cycle. Through striking visual imagery, the London-based art director has created a space for women to share and learn about everything that comes with being a girl—from mood swings to chocolate cravings. In her first photo series for Ooh Any Day Now, Anvari tapped photographer Catrine Håland, set designer Kerry Hughes and floral stylist Kasia Borowiecka to create a powerful campaign in celebration of the female form. Boastful Menstruation Machinery uses flowers and unconventional hardware to fight back against cultural perceptions of femininity, and highlight female strength. After all, we’re the ones that go through it every month. Anvari named the series after the Gloria Steinem essay, If Men Could Menstruate, where she says—and I’m paraphrasing—”What would happen if men could menstruate? They would boast.” I love Gloria, but I have to disagree. They’d cry.

View the exclusive photo series, above, and learn more about the project, below.

Why did you start Ooh Any Day Now? What was the goal?

I want to neutralize menstruation—it’s an everyday subject. The period itself, just because it’s visible, it’s all anyone talks about. But it’s the whole thing—the monthly cycle, and all that goes with that.

How did you come up with the idea?

I’m Iranian and I was brought up in Sweden, so I noticed two very different approaches. There’s the Iranian way where you take care of yourself when you have your period—Do this. Eat that. Wear warm socks. But all of my Swedish friends—they just kept doing sports, and the change their everyday lives. But I never had any shame or fear of not being accepted by your partner because of it. So when I saw the amount of negativity surrounding it online, I knew I had to change it.
Does our current political climate makes this project more urgent?

Right now, with the dialogue we’re having and everything that’s happening in the world, it’s very important. But it’s always important—it always will be important.

Why the focus on menstruation, as opposed to the period?

The period is only four or five days, maybe even shorter. But the whole cycle lasts a month. It’s very important machinery—a total genius machinery. It keeps going, and doing it’s job. The visible, bloody part—I’m not saying it’s not horrible sometimes. But we need to feel empowered and understand the amazing things our bodies are doing. I’m not looking to be shocking and rebellious. I just want to start a conversation and do as much good.

Tell me about the photo series. What does it represent?

When I started this project, I was listening a lot to ‘Woman’s Hour’ on the BBC. I came across an episode where someone talked about an essay by Gloria Steinem where she said something like, ‘If men menstruated, they would be boasting about it.’ So I started thinking about the whole celebration of the male body, and the production of the female form. With the series, I wanted to compare these ideas, how our machinery is malleable, but always working and tough—that’s what you see with the hardware in the images. Menstruation is a person experience, but it’s also a universal one for women—I wanted to showcase that.

What do you want people to take away from it?

Acceptance. I’ve read women saying they want their husbands or boyfriends to be more accepting of their period, to not be so grossed out. Why is it so important for men not to be put off? We need to be more proud of it—maybe even boastful.