When you can't get attention for the cheap porn jailbait aesthetic because everyone is bored of it by now, you can always try to empower women by showing off their va-jays. You see, the "Period Power" graphic, originally designed by Petra Collins as a bright pink neon sign, and now transferred to T-shirt illustration by Alice Lancaster, is all about cheekily commenting on the pop culture love of women's naked bodies by showing a "taboo" of masturbation while menstruation. Illustrated in a naive line-art style reminiscent of doodling, with just a touch of color on the rainbow painted nails and red menstrual blood some argue the shirt is simply too ugly to be worn by anyone keen on fashion.
Petra Collins tells Time:
“I decided to put a super-taboo topic right on a t-shirt to make it viewable for everyone, I’m really interested in what is hidden from our culture. We are always repressing or hiding what is natural to a post-pubescent body. We’re taught to hate our menstrual cycle and even to hide masturbation.”
If you haven't guessed it by now, Petra is only 20 years young, and might be making illustrations of people taking a shit next, because that too is natural. Young women tend to still be fascinated by the whole menstrual cycle thing, bless their hearts. We're not really taught to hate menstruation by culture or society, biology takes care of that as the crimson tide is quite good at doling out enough pain and pimples to make most women associate it with a really rough week.
Ms Collins and Ms Lancaster seem rather surprised by the reactions to this shirt, which attracted its fair share of haters before it even saw the light of day. I find it difficult to imagine being so naive at 20 to honestly not expect a reaction at all when they are by Ms Collin's own definition "breaking a taboo". Especially not since Ms Collins has photographed for Vice, Purple, and even American Apparel for some time now. The idea and the execution is giving me flashbacks to "Our bodies ourselves" which was released in 1971, and where we learned that orgasms do indeed help menstruation cramps. In short: it both looks and feels like this is a retro 1970s graphic.
I'm more surprised that the American Apparel company, so often in the press for exposing young women in their ad campaigns, are now sponsoring a "Female centric art show" which is curated by Petra Collins. And why is it that "female centric" always seems to translate to "naked women" and "vagina in full view" when it comes to art created by women? I thought it was men who are supposed to think about sex every thirty seconds, don't you young ladies have anything else on your mind you'd like to share with the world? Hmm? Or is it this simple: if you were to make high-brow art that wasn't showing "period power" or a list of how many men you've slept with a conceptual piece, nobody would take any notice of your female art? I have a hard time seeing how the T-shirt helps women "feel good about themselves" when it's really quite unflattering in so many ways. Doing what is depicted makes me feel good though, I'll give you that.