An Interview with Natalie Byrne
Half the population have periods. Yet for some reason, we’ve been taught to hide it.
To be ashamed.
How many of you have hidden a box of tampons under something else in her
shopping basket? Or slipped one up your sleeve on the way to the toilet? As far as the
patriarchy are concerned, the less said about periods the better. So no one talks about periods.
We’ve even resorted to ridiculous code names to avoid saying the word:
time of the month, got the painters in, Aunt Flo’s visiting etc.
But, as Dumbledore so eloquently puts it, “fear ofthe name increases fear of the thing itself”.
No wonder starting your period is so traumatic for so many people.
So, if people aren’t talking about periods, they must be writing about them instead, right?
Wrong. Enter Natalie Byrne.
When illustrator Natalie Byrne was told there were NO books about periods, she couldn’t
believe it. She trawled through bookshops and libraries to no avail. There was only one
thing for it. She had to make one. This hard-hitting realisation, and several late late nights,
resulted in the birth of Period.
We had the absolute pleasure of interviewing her ahead of her book release on 1st November.
Natalie Byrne fell into illustration after realising her dreams of being a graphic designer weren’t so dreamy after all.
“I have always kind of been drawing, but I always thought I was going to be a
graphic designer in an agency.”
As many of you will relate to, Natalie was interning whilst working a retail job and trying to
figure out what she wanted from her career, when 2016 happened.
“Trump started gaining popularity and talks of Brexit starting happening. And I
had a lot of feelings about it.”
Drawing then became a way for her to reach out to her friends who, like her, were
struggling as the energy in England hit rock bottom. It became a way to really connect with
people and vent.
“My illustrations have always been a way that I can communicate what I think.”
It was in this way that her work naturally developed a feminist edge.
“Feminism was never a word I heard [and understood] until after I graduated.
When I was going through therapy towards the end of uni, I found the word
feminism and it really started to make sense to me. It became the closure on my
therapy, to really understand that certain situations might not necessarily have
been my fault and more a systemic problem of being a woman.”
Initially, merging feminism and her career was a daunting prospect. And her openness
about periods was something she feared might hold her back.
“I’d never been in a room with people who were having these conversations in a
An understandable problem for a talented young woman being interviewed by men-only
panels. (But that’s a whole other topic for another time). Luckily for us, Natalie was getting
enough interest from the right kind of people. People who respected her openness and were
dying to work with her. People who’ve enabled her to create her own work full-time. People
such as NYX make up , The Washington Post and Break the Habit Press.
Break the Habit Press, who are publishing Period., are an independent publisher of feminist
non-fiction who want to give a platform to the unheard and under-represented.
So, what can we expect from Period.?
Period. is everything you need to know about periods. PERIOD.
A book for everyone – children and adults, mums and dads, womb-owners and
ex-womb-owners. Overflowing with practical tips and advice, from what a period actually is
to who does and who doesn’t have them, this inclusive book is a myth-busting must-read.
“Informative, funny. Like a sleepover where you talk about everything for the first
The answer to a LOT of girls’ questions, Period. is everything we wish we knew at 13. When
I asked Natalie what she would tell her younger self about menstruation she replied, “to
read this book”. But as someone who struggles with heavy and painful periods, it was the
fear and shame that hit her the hardest. Something education and open conversations
about periods can help tackle.
“Self love helps your relationship with your period.”
And as for the pain and discomfort, now she’s an advocate for exercise and a healthy diet as
a way to tackle those pesky pains.
“It’s okay to leak.”
The point of the book was always to help people, and help people it will. Not only will
Period. blow the conversation around periods wide open, ten percent of net profits for each
book sold will be donated to Bloody Good Period (an organisation providing menstrual
supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them).
We applaud you.
Written by Aisling Holling, Every Month Blogger