When she’s not writing for Fashion Journal or running the Village Tattoo. Jonti Ridley is dealing with the ebbs and flows of her cycle - just like the rest of us. We first met Jonti when she interviewed us for FJ Magazine, we bonded instantly over awkward first-period-kits, the patriarchal fuckery of periods and dreams of a post-period-shame society. So, naturally we wanted to know more about Jonti (or ToughBoy as she goes by on Instagram).
Here we talk about her cycle story, from dealing with tough acronyms such as PMDD and PCOS, relationship pink flags that undoubtedly turn into red flags and her period playlist - FT. a dose of Amyl and Doja Cat.
Occupation: Writer/Content Creator/Model/Studio Manager
Allow me to set the scene: Age 14-ish, family holiday to Australia (we were living in Singapore at the time) for my older brothers high school graduation, with a house filled with his close circle of graduating cohort staying the night. I didn’t tell anyone for the first 24 hours because I was so horrifically embarrassed, I was hoping it would go away if I pretended it wasn’t there (which, obviously isn’t science or reality).
My skin gets the memo first, extra sensitivity and a few patches of cystic acne to ensure I’ve gotten the message. I’m also blessed with PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and PCOS (my body loves a good acronym what can I say) - which means my emotional state prior to my period is on the turbulent side. PMDD is different for everyone, but personally it pushes my mental health to the absolute extreme in the week leading up to my period.
Unfortunately there’s no specific treatment/cure for either, however reminding myself of the context of my emotions (i.e: “your period is coming, you don’t actually feel like everything in your life is the absolute pits, everything gonna be a-ok) does wonders. Additionally, giving myself permission to feel what I need to feel while focusing on responding to triggers rather than reacting has helped me navigate PMDD with more clarity - while also preventing me from blowing up my entire life in 3-4 business days.
48 hours before my period arrives, I’ll get a headache no painkiller can touch and my boobs inflate a cupsize. As inconvenient as my symptoms are, credit where credit is due, my body certainly has a clear order of operations that over the years I’ve at least learned to spot the symptoms (which is half the battle).
Early bedtimes are absolutely crucial to surviving shark week. My body is so fatigued by the process, if I don’t commit to a full 9 hours each night during my period I start to unravel at the seams. The first day of my period I order something for dinner with zero apologies, excuses or justification and I put on an animated film. As someone going through ED recovery, indulging my cravings is a treat my brain doesn’t take lightly. If I’m craving it, I’m getting it. This means I’ve started to look forward to the first night of my period (kinda sorta, we’re getting there…).
I’m not sure if I can say this, but weed is the most effective remedy for any severe mood swings throughout my period, I’ve also found it effective in cramp management. Unfortunately PCOS period pains are on the extra spicy side, so it doesn’t get rid of them completely but it does round out the sharp corners which can be a godsend if they’re keeping you up at night.
I don’t want to do a damn thing during my period. As I mentioned before I find it very fatiguing on my body, so the last thing I’m after is a brisk jog. I really want to be the kind of person who works out through their cramps but I am just not hardwired that way. I will say, committing to light yoga when I feel my muscles start to tense has helped me feel more comfortable with my body through my cycle and helped reduced stiffness (from clenching every joint I’ve got while cramping).
Because my skin gets more sensitive leading up to and during my period, I have to ease up on the actives. Which is less than ideal given the extra spots that join me for my period, but I’d rather have some zits than a chemical burn (me three years ago absolutely would have disagreed with this btw, but your moisture barrier is more important in the long term).
I strip my routine to the basics (oil cleanser, milk cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen) but keep a bottle of pure jojoba handy to slather on before bed. I also change my pillowcase at the start of my period and immediately after because I know the increase of natural oils and sweat will break me out down the line.
Jojoba Company pure organic jojoba oil for moisture, Skin Software custom treatment for acne prevention, Lush Scrubee (anyone who suffers from ingrowns, this stuff is your new shower bff!)
I’m currently reentering the dating world for the first time in 3ish years, so I’ve been trying to schedule dates around my cycle to prevent ripping a strangers head off in a PMDD-brain-snap. This is terrific in theory until the last few days of my period, and then I want to have sex with anyone and everyone.
But I can speak on behalf of my ex when I say, it can be a rollercoaster. I can only imagine the whiplash someone feels around me during my period. I’m 173cm of pure rage one minute because the mug I wanted is dirty in someone else's room, the next I’m crying because you didn’t want to watch Tangled with me at 2pm on Wednesday. A messy icon through and through.
If you’re prone to symptoms, extreme or otherwise, pre/post or during - give your partner the heads up. Understanding you might be a little more sensitive, or that your needs have shifted, will help your partner take better care of you - they’re not a mind reader. On that tangent, if you tell them about your period and their response is anything Ewwwww-adjacent - dump them.
The brain fog and the cramps definitely get in the way of my productivity, and a period on a photoshoot isn’t fun for anyone. However, I’m extremely fortunate at the moment I’m either working from home or at the studio - which is filled with fellow menstruators who understand exactly what I’m going through. Even though I might be running a little slower than I’d like, empathy is a very powerful emotion and reminds you to cut yourself some slack when you’re going through it.
Masturbating is a big one - not only does it help relieve cramps but it’s a fresh batch of happy chemicals straight to your brain. Sex is cool but a committed solo self-love session hits different.
My period described in 3-words… Crampy, horny and cranky.
My contraception method of choice… Condoms, the pill messed with my brain too much & I keep forgetting to book with my GP for an IUD.
Do you use a tracker? If so, what do you use? Currently using Eve, I have the premium version because I’m a data nerd
My period self-care toolkit’... Period underwear, winged pads* for when I forget to do laundry, wheat pack, fluffy socks, and sweet Mary Jane.*
I know my period is coming when…. I text ‘do whatever you want lol idc’
The TV series I’m currently obsessed with… The Cut on Amazon (The Project Runway Tim Gunn has always dreamed of)
A bad habit I’m trying to break… Negative self-talk and narcissist enabling
Self-pleasure or be pleasured… Ideally both, but I know my body best so, self-pleasure
My period playlist consists of... Amyl and The Sniffers, Amy Winehouse, and Doja Cat
If I had to choose 3 beauty products for the rest of my life… THIS ONE IS SO HARD - La Roche SPF50, Inky Tattoo Salve, Corsx Master Patch Pimple Patches
When you’re feeling down my advice is to... Feel your feelings first, reflect on the cause and where it’s rooted, self-soothe and treat yourself to something you like just because
My advice on dating… Trust your gut and take those pink flags seriously, they tend to turn red when you’re not looking
Words to live by… Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
The Podcast I recommend you save and listen to… Parcast Horoscope daily podcast
The book every person should read… Come as you are by Emily Nagoski - how I figured out how to orgasm at 22 and the beginning of my self-love journey
For more from Jonti follow her @_toughboy
My Cycle Routine with Nikki Gonda
My cycle routine is a series of intimate interviews with prominent female leaders to form a new dialogue around our menstrual cycle. We’re all different and we all have different routines or ways to deal - by sharing these stories, we hope to empower people with periods to better understand...
November 25, 2022
How Period Underwear Work
Our washable, reusable period underwear look and feel just like normal underwear - but better. See for yourself!
July 22, 2022