We spend YEARS of our lives menstruating, and still we avoid saying the word “period.” Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate the creativity in “shark week,” “the crimson tide” and “lady business,” but not talking about our periods is hurting all the work we’ve done to break the taboos around menstruation.
First Periods Are Scary
Consult with any woman and she’ll probably tell you she thought she was dying the first time she got her period. Even though most of us are required to take some form of health class in order to graduate, our first periods are never what we expect them to be. That first drop (or gush) of blood has you asking questions like “Am I hurt?” “Do I have any more clean pairs of underwear?” and “Does this mean I’m finally a woman?”
I mean, blood in general is a sign that something’s not right, and the lack of talking about menstruation doesn’t help the freak outs. Then you throw in the factor that it could happen at any time, like at school, or while hanging out with your crush, or the most terrifying… while wearing white pants.
I guess it’s all part of our initiation into puberty. It takes time to understand the relationship between you and your period, but once you get a grip on it, it can feel pretty powerful being in tune with your body. It’s probably the most important listening lesson we’ll ever learn since womanhood is full of fun surprises.
Break the Culture of Silence
Did you know that monkeys, apes, and bats also menstruate? I’ll never forget when my friend’s dog got her period (turns out it was actually her estrus cycle, but still) and we made her a diaper and gave her belly rubs. Later in life I got to thinking, why don’t we treat young women with this kind of support when they start their periods? I’ll also never forget the first girl in the 5th grade who got her period. We all acted like she was a freak and honestly, it was pretty f’d up. But that’s because no one had talked to us about periods!
It’s moments like this where the taboo needs to be broken. The more we refer to menstruation as “Aunt Flow” and use code words for period products, the more we prevent the young babes out there from kicking ass. We have the ability to save them a lot of pubescent stress and ease their minds to focus on more important issues.
Our periods should be empowering, reminding us that our bodies are efficient machines and that anything you can do, we can do bleeding, backwards, and in thigh-high boots if we want to.
Periods Are a (Big) Part of Life
Out of the 7.53 billion people on this planet, about 26% of them menstruate regularly. That’s almost 2 BILLION women who are sharing these experiences… in secrecy. While our experiences might vary, we each hold important knowledge that can and should be shared in the name of science and sanity.
We’ve come a long way with media finally starting to integrate accurate depictions of menstruation on the big screen. When I was young, the only place to learn about periods was in “The Care & Keeping of YOU” book (Google it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about).
Now there are better books like “Period.” by Natalie Byrne, who discusses periods for “everyone; children and adults, mums and dads, womb-owners and ex-womb-owners.” But books alone are not enough. We need ample resources that begin with shameless conversations in the home. Talk to your friends, family, and kids about periods. It’s important.
Let this be an opportunity for menstrual equity. Goodbye “shark week.” Goodbye “Aunt Flow.”
Zora Lasić is a twenty-something year old California transplant with an ever-increasing interest in leadership and other rare commodities. She participated actively in the Women’s Studies program at her university and frequently sits into panels regarding human rights issues. She might as well have majored in candor, but is currently working on her MBA in Croatia, where she’s fallen in love with public transportation, seasons, and taking very long coffee breaks.