Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui smashes period taboo

  • Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui smashes period taboo

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui smashes period taboo

On Saturday night, just after her team finished the 4x100 meter medley relay, China's Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui discussed having her period.

Long a taboo subject for female athletes, the 20-year-old - whose goofy, charming poolside antics have turned her into a viral sensation - offered a very frank explanation for why she looked exhausted at the end of the 4x100-meter medley relay, in which the Chinese team placed fourth.

"It's because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly exhausted", she said.

'But this isn't an excuse, I still did not swim as well as I should have'.

Now, she's become a talking point online again - for breaking a sporting taboo by talking about her period. When she tweeted a photo jokingly doctored to make her look taller, it was re-tweeted 120,000 times.

Fu was embraced worldwide last weeks thanks to her adorably goofy and GIF-able demeanor.

Very few women actually open up about competing on their periods, but clearly it happens. However, this may be about to change with the launch of the country's first brand of tampons.

The fight against period stigma has also intersected with the fight against abortion stigma, with women calling Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to talk about their periods in protest over a weird anti-abortion law that would require them to bury or cremate the results of a miscarriage. Because of a belief that using tampons could break your hymen, tampons which are used by 70% of United States women are never mentioned in sex education in China.

The interview quickly trended on Chinese social media sites, where users expressed surprise - and some admiration - that Fu had shared such an intimate matter but also that she swam while menstruating.

Because there's been so much silence about the subject, "there's little effective management and treatment for women during her menstrual period", says Greenhalgh.

If you're happy, Fu, then we're happy.

Boston's Globe and Mail reports that many female athletes have argued that the taboo around menstruation in sport leaves some not knowing how to deal with the more severe symptoms during the competition, especially since many painkillers are banned. "Who tells you that virgins can not use tampons?"

In China, menstruation is considered an off-limits topic of conversation, a reflection of conservative views about women's bodies and sex. Instead, she used the word "period".