My mind races quickly back over the past few days…

Hmmm. Irritability levels may have been slightly higher than usual. Acute thoughts of ‘GFY’ have definitely been dashing around my brain more frequently when interacting with pretty much anyone. And I’ve been giving the old plastic-smile-big-eyes expression as I try to navigate the day without getting arrested for assault. And as for the man who accused me of being ‘irrational’ yesterday...well, he may have been right. Only on this occasion, mind!

Mwah. Mwah. Air kisses as standard.

Aunt Flo: “You look fabulous as always!”

Me: “I’m not sure that I feel it, but thanks.”

My stomach hurts like hell. Cramping. Aunt Flo hands me two ibuprofen. HERO.


Aunt Flo is a ticket.

“Okay dahling, flying visit. Five days to a week. Haven’t decided yet. So we need to make the most of it.”

Her visits are always pretty intense. I feel exhausted by the thoughts of the next few days. I want to stay at home on the couch, eat my stash of Cadbury’s chocolate from the motherland and watch Absolutely Fabulous.

“And what would Patsy and Eddie say to that attitude? Hmm? Dahling? They’d never let a bit of blood stop them doing anything!”

She’s right.

“I mean look at your boobs dahling! They’ve never looked so good.”


They hurt like hell right now. They’re swollen and full and they look amazing. Far too good to be contained within the walls of my apartment.

The girls are going out! Pack your bag full of Queen Ts. It’s time to paint the town SCARLET!


First stop, Aunt Flo’s favorite bar - Crimson Tide. As we approach, we see a sign outside:

‘Closed for business due to painters being in.’

“Dammit anyway” she says. “It was open earlier in the month. Maybe we’ll go for tacos instead?”

I love tacos. They are my favorite thing about New York coming from a country where proper Mexican food doesn’t really exist. Aunt Flo is also a huge fan. Fish tacos in particular. But she’s a demon for the sauce!!!


Next it’s dancing “because frankly when you’re on your period, you have to feel yourself dahling.”

We’re both red and fabulous dancing to Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’. (Redness and fabulousness is engrained in the DNA of the global female family).

Music: “...Anything you want done baby, I do it naturally…”

Aunt Flo shouts out “EVEN WHILE BLEEDING!”

We both LOL.


“Thirsty work this dancing malark. Important to stay hydrated. I think it’s time for a Bloody Mary dahling. Don’t you?”

I don’t have to be asked twice.

We’re at Aunt Flo’s second favorite drinking establishment, Tokyo Rose.

“I mean really, this time together dahling, it’s so good for us. For you. Because with all the stresses of you living your life, you sometimes forget that this time is a reminder of the ultimate power you hold within yourself to cultivate human life. Show me a man that can do that?!”

We cheers and take another swing of Bloody Mary.


My reproductive system is reporting for duty. Suddenly that four page to do list doesn’t seem quite so daunting. If I have the ability to grow another human, surely I can take four meetings back to back, write a project proposal and send ten thousand emails? And all before lunch?

“Thanks Aunt Flo. You’re so wise.”

Aunt Flo’s visit is fleeting on this occasion. A record four days instead of the usual eight. I’m not upset about it. There’s billions of women in the world and she’s got to do the monthly rounds. I know she’ll be back.

I power through my workload, propelled by the profundity of Aunt Flo’s insight.

I’m a woman on my period.

Nothing can stop me.

On International Women’s Day, please help some of the 100 million around the world who don’t have access to proper menstrual sanitary care harness the power of their periods by making a donation to one of the wonderful charities below, or any other organization you know doing sterling work in this area.

All women should be afforded a dignified monthly menstrual experience. In 2018 it should be a basic human right.

Thank you so much!







GLOSSARY OF TERMS (in order of appearance)

Aunt Flo: My fabulous Aunt. But really my period. For those not in the know of the flow (possibly any men who might dare to be reading this), Aunt Flo is a common term used to describe being on one’s period.

GFY: Pretty standard acronym across the globe: Go Fuck Yourself. We’ve all been there.

Ticket: Aunt Flo is a ticket. ‘Ticket’ in this context is Irish English for someone who is good value i.e. a good laugh. “She’s a ticket” you might say about someone, meaning they make you LOL a lot. Not to be confused with the type of ticket that gets you into places. Although I’m sure there is an Aunt Flo somewhere who could probably help you with that.

The Motherland: My native country that will always have my heart. My beloved Ireland. The source of the BEST chocolate in the entire world. Sorry Switzerland. It’s true.

Absolutely Fabulous: Hysterical 90s BBC comedy show starred in, written and created by comedy genius Jennifer Saunders. Most commonly referred to as 'Ab Fab' by fans and those with a knowledge of 90s pop culture. If you've never watched it, it’s currently on Netflix. You're welcome.

Patsy and Edina: The main characters of Ab Fab. Creator Jennifer Saunders plays booze and Class A fiend and fashion PR mogul (or fauxgul?) Edina Monsoon (Eddie) who's accompanied at all times by best friend and general partner in crime Patsy Stone (Patsy or Pats) played by Joanna Lumley.

Queen Ts: Some lesser known Beyoncé trivia. Queens Ts were a brand of tampons launched by Queen B in 2012 that didn’t quite take off. She owns the name though so just incase this story gave you any ideas about launching your own line of tampons - that’s one name that’s taken!

Paint the town SCARLET: Ever heard the expression ‘paint the town red’? I’m sure you have and I’m also sure you’ve done it. But in this case, it’s a double meaning (see what I did there?!) because Aunt Flo and I are out on the razz but it also means...you guessed it! To be on your period.

Fish tacos in particular. But she’s a demon for the sauce!!!: This is a reference to a new phrase I learned in doing my research for this piece. ‘Too much sauce on the fish taco.’ I suppose tacos aren’t really a thing in Ireland which is why I’d never heard it before but it conjured up some wonderful imagery for the shoot. Would you like a bite of my tampon taco?

Crimson Tide: Common phrase for being on your period.

Closed for business due to painters being in: A mash up of two popular phrases to describe being on your period. ‘Closed for business' and ‘I’ve got the painters in.’

Bloody Mary: Again, a phrase to describe being on one’s period.

Tokyo Rose: A very beautiful way of describing a used tampon. In my research for this piece, I found mostly highly offensive terms (that were no doubt conjured up by men) to describe tampons that honestly made me feel uncomfortable. So to whoever submitted this term to the period lexicon, thank you. You were my Savior this week.

WEARING (in order of appearance)

Cover image: Red Felt Tampon Hat: Leila Jinnah Millinery

Custom TSB Tampon Earrings: ISLYNYC (worn throughout)

Red Bathing Suit: Topshop / Silver Sequin Boots: Discount Universe

Red Bralet: House of London / Red Leather Zip Pull Pants: Nina Tiara

Red Jumpsuit: Mary D’Aloia Red Latex Gloves: House of Harlot

Burgundy Crushed Velvet Zip Top & Pants: Nina Tiari / Burgundy Felt Hat: Leila Jinnah Millinery

Red Bodysuit: Stylist’s Own

Creative Direction: Gemma Sherlock

Photography: Megan Mack

Styling: Gemma Sherlock

Make Up: Jenna Wren

Model: Gemma Sherlock

Custom Graphic: ISLYNYC

Words: Gemma Sherlock