Lift the taboo on menstruation to end white outfits

Menstruation and sports competitions don’t mix, especially when the stress associated with clothing is added to menstrual cramps. In some sports – tennis leading the way with the Wimbledon tournament – sportswomen are forced to dress in white, a color that causes anxiety when menstruation comes. Athletes are breaking the silence today and calling for the damage to the performance of our tennis women, football players and judokas to be taken into account.

Talk about the rules to change them. This is what Alicia Barnett, the British tennis player, did recently, throwing a stone in the pond by evoking the tradition of white outfits in sport, and for her, in the Wimbledon tournament.

“During the pre-qualifications, I had my period and the first few days were very heavy,” she told the AP agency on July 4, as reported by Sky News. “I was a little stressed about it. I think it’s hard enough to get your period on tour, but wearing white won’t help.”

Last May, Chinese player Quinwen Zheng had already started to lift the taboo on the rules in the sport. [son] tennis”.

But in addition to this pain that no one suspects, there is the fear of seeing the rules in everyone’s eyes. On a white skirt, on shorts or a kimono.

“Mental Stress”

To limit the impact of this monthly phenomenon on their performance, sportswomen want to be able to live up to the tradition of wearing white.

A symbol of the British bourgeoisie, the “all white dress code” has been de rigueur at Wimbledon since the competition was established in 1877. Rooted in Victorian standards of decorum, the rule became official in 1963.

According to the official Wimbledon website, the dress code states that all players must “wear appropriate tennis attire that is almost entirely white”. A rule that applies from the moment the players enter the field. Dress must be strictly white with the exception of “off white or cream”.

If a tolerance threshold sometimes allows the use of “pastel colors”, the tournament organizers want the backs, shorts, skirts, socks, shoes and caps to remain white. For example, in 2002, Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova, wearing black shorts, was asked to return to the locker room and look for a white piece of clothing.

In response to a tweet evoking menstruation and how it can affect the results of certain players during sports competitions, Olympic champion Mónica Puig in late May called out “the mental stress of having to wear white at Wimbledon and pray for not having her menstruation during these two weeks”.


“I think some traditions can be changed,” said Alicia Barnett, who also said she “loves” the “all-white” tradition. A position shared by British footballer Beth Mead. “It’s nice to have an all-white ensemble, but sometimes it’s not practical when it’s the time of the month [les règles]she said in an interview with the Telegraph, explaining that the England women’s football team had passed this comment on to Nike. The Three Lionesses, who are currently participating in the European Championship, have indeed started talks with their material supplier to change the color of their shoes. change shorts (now white).

“Because I got my period yesterday”

Besides tennis and football, there is another sport that – and this time, regardless of the competitions – goes through the white kit: judo. On the tatami, it’s Clarisse Agbegnenou, five-time world champion, who fights against the taboo of rules in sport, going so far as to join the French brand Réjeanne menstrual panties.

“I did judo in a white kimono, it’s complicated,” the judoka, who evolved in the under 63 kg category, explained to France Info. In between training sessions I often had to go to the toilet to change everything (…) all women need it and in sport you have a lot of difficulties.”

Aside from the regulatory outfits and colors, the simple evocation of the rules remains taboo. However, as Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui had dropped in 2016, after her defeat at the Olympic pool in Rio, “the rules, it bothers all sportswomen at least once in their lives”.

This is also one of the things tennis star Alicia Barnett mentions: “Your body feels looser, your tendons relax, sometimes you feel a lot more tired and your coordination is more difficult. I feel really depressed and it’s hard to have the motivation to play .”

As for Fu Yuanhui, there was a lot of talk about her after she justified her failure in the women’s 4x100m as follows: “It’s because I had my period yesterday”. Simple, effective. In China, where menstruation is taboo even when it is pointed out, the statement caused a stir. In the world of sports, it is one of the main outlets participating in the gradual lifting of the law of silence around menstruation. “First day [de règles]”It’s always difficult,” said her fellow tennis player Quinwen Zheng after her failure at Roland-Garros. “I can’t go against my nature. I would like to be a man on the field in times like these.”

In January 2015, British tennis star Heather Watson also associated her poor performance at the Australian Open with “that girl thing”. At BBC Radio’s microphone, former UK No. 1 Annabel Croft had followed suit, calling for the lifting of the omerta over sportswomen’s periods, which “has always been taboo”.

Talking about rules and an inappropriate dress code for women is an issue that more and more sportswomen are trying to draw attention to. According to an August 2021 Adidas survey, one in four girls will stop exercising in their teens, mainly because of fear of bleeding and staining their clothes.

More recently, a global Puma survey found that this affects one in two teenage girls.