The Lionesses Just Made Periods A Key Talking Point, And We're So Here For It

England's top female footballers did something amazing (again).
England players pose for a team group photo before the match at the Arnold Clark Cup in February
England players pose for a team group photo before the match at the Arnold Clark Cup in February

The Lionesses just successfully campaigned for their “away” kit not to be white, scoring another major victory for women in sport.

We all know the squad have broken plenty of boundaries already by making women’s football much more popular and persuading the government to offer schoolgirls equal access to all sports in PE.

But now, the Football Association has agreed to let the England women’s football team wear blue shorts for away matches, following concerns about how easily menstrual blood would show up on white material, particularly for those with a heavy period.

Periods also have a reputation for starting unexpectedly and during times of stress, meaning a sudden rush of menstrual blood occurring right at the start of a match is not uncommon.

Senior squad members have been campaigning for this for a long time, with striker Beth Mead speaking to Nike – the kit manufacturer – last summer.

According to The Guardian, she said: “It’s very nice to have an all-white kit, but sometimes it’s not practical when it’s that time of the month. We deal with it as best as we can but we discussed the shorts issue together as a team and fed our views through to Nike.”

The team will be able to wear the new “coast blue” shorts on Thursday when England face Brazil in the first women’s Finalissima at Wembley, while their home uniforms will remain a shade called “gym blue”.

This is not the first time this has happened in women’s football though. Other teams like Manchester City and West Brom have already made a similar move in deciding to ditch the white shorts.

Wimbledon also announced last November that it would allow the female players to wear dark undershorts, a tweak to the mandatory white outfits all tennis players are expected to don during the high-profile tournament.

But this is a high-profile move which helps cement the idea that women’s fully-functioning bodies should not obstruct their ability to shine in sport.

Previously, some female athletes have been generally expected to take various forms of contraceptives to reduce their periods, or stop them altogether, so that it doesn’t affect their performance.

As the BBC podcast 28ish Days Later, hosted by India Rakusen, pointed out, some sports people lose their periods due to excessive exercise – a change which can be wrongly interpreted as a sign that you’re finally training hard enough.

However, Rakusen noted that it’s actually a sign of something being “very, very wrong” – and maintaining your menstrual cycle is better for your health generally, which means your performance on the pitch should actually improve.

So, this move from the Lionesses is a small step which helps acknowledge that, yes, women have periods – but no, it does not stop them from being excellent athletes.

And, Nike has also developed an “ultra thin short liner” which the squad will wear at the Women’s World Cup this summer.

As founder of the football club Manchester Laces, Helen Hardy, explained on BBC Breakfast, the move means we are now “comfortably talking” about periods, and helping to remove the stigma.