Recently, a captivating TikTok trend emerged with a powerful message: “You’re not ugly, you’re just in your luteal phase.” This statement sheds light on the connection between the menstrual cycle and self-image. The subject on TikTok has gathered millions of views. Yet, it’s just one among several social media trends centered around female mental health and the menstrual cycle. Influencers share various advices regarding workout routines and diets adapted to the menstrual phase. While insights in the menstrual cycle are fundamental, I find myself questioning the impact of the fixation of these trends on physical appearance.
This trend also prompted me to ponder the sudden surge in interest in the menstrual cycle and its potential consequences for our overall wellbeing. Let’s explore this emerging trend and unravel the potential concerns it raises for women.
WHAT IS THE ‘YOU’RE NOT UGLY, YOU’RE JUST IN YOUR LUTEAL PHASE’ TREND?
At its core, this trend suggests that a woman’s emotions, mood shifts, or perceived appearance changes are intricately linked to her menstrual cycle, particularly the luteal phase. This phase, occurring after ovulation and before menstruation, witnesses hormonal fluctuations. The trend aims to reassure women who might attribute insecurities or mood changes to personal flaws, instead attributing them to natural hormonal shifts. TikTok has gathered millions of views on videos explaining why feeling ugly, bloated or gross can be explained by the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.
Numerous experts have raised concerns as this trend causes widespread misinformation and generalisation. Furthermore, they have pointed capitalistic commercialisation as a cause of trends that make people feel ugly or insecure in their body.
WHERE DOES THE SUDDEN FASCINATION WITH THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE COME FROM?
The sudden surge in interest in the menstrual cycle on social media stems from various converging trends. Firstly, inclusive conversations around women’s health are on the rise, striving to reduce disparities between genders. This includes normalising discussions surrounding menstruation. Secondly, the emergence of social media played a pivotal role. Female influencers used their platforms to dismantle taboos and destigmatise menstruation. This empowered discussions about the menstrual cycle and its impact on women’s health, fostering unity and empowerment among women.
This convergence of factors has prompted a cultural shift, thrusting the menstrual cycle into the spotlight on social media, evident in various TikTok trends
My concern revolves around the potential oversimplification of women’s emotions and self-perception. Attributing these complex experiences solely to the biological rhythm of women might reinforce the belief that a woman’s emotions or appearance are entirely dictated by her cycle. This oversimplification could impact women grappling with significant mental health challenges. Another concern is related to the historical neglect of women in health research due to hormonal fluctuations. Reducing women’s health solely to their menstrual cycle might perpetuate this belief and further widen the health disparity between genders.
Finally, I join the concerns posed by the experts, which include the intentions of influencers. What do we gain by making women feel ugly or insecure? More followers, or more sales? Ask yourself these questions the next time you see influencers encouraging menstruation and wellness trends or trying to get you to buy a product. Question first: who stands to gain from you feeling ‘ugly’ or upset with your body? It is essential to prioritise understanding the broader impact before embracing narratives that undermine your sense of self-worth or body positivity. Only then we will achieve a more empowering and inclusive discourse around women’s health and wellbeing.