Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 161 September 2023 | Page 62


Not a Taboo Subject …

Period !

A photograph of triathlete Emma Browne-Pallant recently caused quite a stir , because it highlighted something that is both natural and common , but seldom spoken about in public , let alone celebrated . Instead of shying away from the story , Emma embraced it , and has helped greatly to break down the social taboos around menstruation . – BY SEAN FALCONER

Many consider it a taboo subject , something that should never be discussed in polite company , a topic only for private conversation between mothers and daughters , or women and their doctors , but menstruation and periods are an integral part of life for roughly half the world ’ s population , and their partners . It ’ s all perfectly natural , as they say , and really shouldn ’ t be a topic that people shy away from , but it makes some uncomfortable when it does come up …

That ’ s why a photograph of South African-based British triathlete Emma Pallant- Browne in action at the PTO European Open in Ibiza in late May caused such a stir . The 33-year-old is normally in the news , anyway , when she races – at the time of this race , she was a two-time World Duathlon Champion and ranked number seven on the women ’ s world triathlete rankings , and South African readers will also remember that she won the Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon earlier this year . A week after her Ibiza race , she went on to claim a third World Duathlon title , becoming the first woman to achieve this milestone .
In the action pic of her , taken during the run leg of the Ibiza event , a bloodstain could clearly be seen on her pink swimsuit , and this prompted one Instagram user to post , “ Not the most flattering pic … surely you can crop it a bit better .” Emma responded , “ Thanks for caring , but definitely something I ’ m not shy to talk about , because it ’ s the reality of females in sport . My period comes over a month in between , and there will be one day where it is super heavy . I pray it won ’ t be raceday , but every now and then it is . No matter what tampon I have experimented with , for anything over 3hrs it ’ s too heavy . So just as someone might get gut issues in a race , I have to suck it up and give what I have and not be afraid to talk to women who have the same problem .”
Her story soon went viral , and was picked up by media all over the world , with many praising Emma for her candid response and being willing to talk so openly about menstruation , and the challenges faced by female athletes when that time of the month occurs at the same time as an event . We also wanted to share this story with the readers of this mag , so asked Emma for a chat . Here ’ s what she had to say .
Images : Courtesy Emma Pallant-Browne
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