What’s it like menstruating while homeless? Honestly, I never thought about this until I learned Robin Hoskin’s story from my friend Kim Burgas, who created an organization called Crimson Campaign to promote gender equality globally by advancing the considerations and respect around women and menstruation.
I’m touched by the story, because it reminds me to be grateful for all of the blessings in my life, no matter how small, and how often they may have been taken for granted in the past. It taught me the importance of compassion, as it tought Robin.
Here’s Robin’s story.
Looking back to the time when I was struggling the most, I can safely say that at that time, I carried a constant sense of panic. That panic stuck with me through every situation I encountered. At school, at night on the street, trying to study, looking for my next meal, and when I was with friends. Having no money played on my mind constantly. I carried this panic around at the base of my stomach. Over time, that panic grew and developed into an alert system which helped me through my most trying periods (pardon the pun).
Throughout my young adult hood, like so many others, I faced great challenges. I can sum up my coping mechanisms into two simple phrases, “figure it out” and “press on.” No matter what went down, forward was and is still my only option. Any other direction didn’t register. I knew I just had to survive.
At times I stressed as to how I would respond to the demands of my anatomy. Stress is a terrible thing when it is over what to most women in the United States would consider to be trivial. Buying personal hygiene products isn’t an issue to them. It’s rather an errand for most. Unfortunately at times for me, that errand morphed into a dilemma. I remember thinking, “Oh here it comes. I gotta get tampons.”
I was lucky most of the time though. I stayed in school as much as possible, and I had lots of love and support from close friends. Although I was so blessed to have my girlfriends, it was embarrassing to go to them and say, “I’m on my period and I’m broke.” I felt three feet tall. I felt beneath everyone else. I was taken by an inferiority complex still battle to this day. Not being able to support my most basic needs made me think back to being the poor kid in grade school who never had pencils. Guilt, embarrassment, and shame became emotions that were too familiar and entirely too soon to experience. I wonder if others suffer as I did when they are menstruating, and what support systems are needed to ensure women and girls who are economically disadvantaged can break down financial barriers facing them because of menstruation.
Robin Hoskins is a performance artist with Permafringe Projects in downtown Cincinnati. Her passions include singing, dancing, acting, writing, and playing woodwinds. She has worked as a cashier for Boi Na Braza, a Brazilian steakhouse, for the past two years. Robin enjoys volunteering by putting together clothing and toiletry packages for the Mary Magdalene House. It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific period when she was struck by financial disadvantage because since birth, poverty was natural to her. It was normal to have no lights on or no water running. Her mother suffered a great deal of trauma and emotional turmoil which lead to environments of poverty, abuse, and neglect. This continued until she was able to leave home at eighteen. Between the ages of eighteen and twenty three, Robin lived with her first love and when that relationship ended, she was alone again. Because she was terrified of going back to the conditions of her relatives, she tried to commit suicide and ended up in a psych ward, devastated and homeless. These experiences taught her the importance of compassion. She knew early in life that pain was inevitable. Now, her mission is to alleviate pain wherever she goes, which is shown in part through her interest in the Crimson Campaign. Robin wants young women all over the world to embrace their womanhood! Low self esteem and shame will be overcome.