If you’re a menstruating individual, you probably remember the frustration and embarrassment that came with your first few periods. The idea that, while this was a thing that Dolly Doctor reassured was normal, it was still an inconvenience and not something you looked forward to getting every month. Wouldn’t it have been nice if — rather than being told to keep your voice down when asking your friend for a tampon — someone could have shown you how to harness the power of your cycle to better balance and steer your life?
Well, that’s exactly what Lucy Peach is here to do! A Freemantle-based stadium-folk-pop singer songwriter, with a parallel career as a sexual health educator, Peach is stepping up to show young people that periods are normal, natural, and not something to be feared or dreaded. Her latest show How To Period Like A Unicorn aims to show through music, science-based knowledge, and passion that your period is actually a blessing, rather than a curse!
During her time working in the sexual health profession in schools, Peach noticed the lack of importance placed on topics surrounding the empowerment of the changing body during puberty, particularly for girls and young women. “It’s like, this is how to put on a condom… Okay, good luck!” Peach laments. She began by expanding on the general teachings of tampons and PMS by empowering girls through knowledge “I’d say ‘make a fist with your hand, now place it over your lower belly, that’s your womb’” she says.
A chance meeting with a performance clown from Cirque du Soleil propelled her into the creation of her first play, My Greatest Period Ever. The play, which was made and performed with the help of her husband and creative partner, Richard Berney, sees Peach reflect upon her own menstrual cycle and how she used it to unlock her creativity. Husband Richard accompanies Peach on stage, giving a male presence for the topic, something the singer-songwriter says has helped her connect with more people: “As time went on, we noticed there were more and more men in the audience”, Peach says. The show continued to reach more people, predominantly through word-of-mouth, and ended up winning the prestigious Martin Simms Award at Fringe in 2017, recognising it as “the best new Western Australian work in the Festival that is destined to succeed on the world’s stage”.
With the great success of My Greatest Period Ever, Peach began to consider how she could connect with a younger audience; people who were about to begin menstruating, or had just started and were feeling embarrassed, scared, or otherwise uncomfortable with having their period. Peach wished to convey her message that the menstrual cycle is something amazing, and not the taboo, shied-away-from topic that western society tries to make it out to be.
Through doing this she hoped to spread the message that a period is “not just seen as a non-issue, but as something powerful!” Thus spawned her new performance piece How To Period Like A Unicorn, aimed to show young people that periods aren’t gross, embarrassing, or something to not be talked about, but instead something to be embraced. How To Period Like A Unicorn explores the menstrual cycle in a similar way to her previous work, but this time using more family-friendly language (Peach admits that she omits some jokes about ‘fisting’ that are present in her first play in her latest!).
Of course, by speaking on a topic that many still (sadly) believe is a big no-no, Peach has been met with some backlash. The advertisement for both of her shows was banned on both Facebook and Instagram: “It got banned because I used a picture of a grapefruit” Peach says. The photograph of the fruit was bizarrely reported as sexual content, leading Peach to turn to alternative means to promote the show. “Luckily it turns out print media is happy to write articles bashing Facebook” Peach chuckles.
The singer-songwriter mentioned she also occasionally encounters criticism from friends online. She often ends her Instagram posts with a hashtag and the day of her cycle she is on, something a male friend commented on as too graphic. When Peach asked him if he would rather she comment on her other bodily functions, he replied: “You know what? Yeah, I would be more comfortable if you were talking about shit!”.
The idea of documenting the day of your cycle, and using it to gauge a range of things, including what kind of tasks you can best handle is something Peach feels passionately about. In her recent TEDx Talk The Power of the Period (which you can check out below), Peach describes this revelation which was brought about in part by reading Miranda Grey’s The Optimised Woman.
“The hormonal changes I experience throughout the month are actually four phases, with strengths and abilities that I can plan for and use”, Peach states. These four phases are described as The Reflective Phase (which Peach describes as Zero Fucks), The Dynamic Phase (Fucks For Days), The Expressive Phase (Fuck Yes!), and the Premenstrual or Creative Phase (Fuck Off!). Each of these phases comes with a different mood as well as different positive and negative traits and feelings, and Peach explains that it is important for people to take this into account when making decisions and going about daily life. She explains that, by harnessing and accounting for the differing moods during a cycle, a person can live a simpler life, with less annoyance towards themselves, as “next week it’ll be different. Because when you are a cyclical creature, it always is”.
This concept of fluidity is something Peach addresses in both My Greatest Period Ever and How To Period Like A Unicorn, and the artist touches upon it during our interview, giving a personal example demonstrating how it can impact her life. Recently, Peach was offered a good but stressful opportunity, and being in her Dynamic Phase, wanted to take it, until she realised “wait, on that date I’ll be day 30 pre-menstrual or on day 1 of my period” she says. Subsequently she turned the offer down, and is glad she did. The performer believes that we, as a society, should be more accepting of people with periods being cyclic creatures, and thus more capable of different things during different times of the cycle.
In her new show ‘How To Period Like A Unicorn’, Peach aims to bring the concept of the menstrual cycle out from the shadows and into the spotlight to show pre-teens and young adults that the period is something to be embraced, not to be ashamed of. “It’s the reason we’re all here, you know?” Peach says, passionately “It’s the only blood that doesn’t come from violence!”.