Do you ever feel, as a woman, that you sort of live in the shadows? As women move through life, I think, we’re relegated to the sidelines in a lot of ways, the biggest of which is the unsaid obligation to hide our periods. I grew up in a family of women, with three older sisters. But when I got my first period I hid it. I was embarrassed; I didn’t want anyone to know. Menstruation, even in a house full of women, was not something really talked about lest we make our father uncomfortable. I think back now and wonder why I felt like a normal body function was something that I felt obligated to hide.
When I got my first period at 13, even talking with my friends at the time about it was difficult for me. I remember I had to ask someone for a pad in the bathroom and I thought it was about the worst thing that had happened in my young life up to that point. I was so concerned with how other people perceived me, and was so worried they would “know”, that I did what I could to hide it. Buying menstrual products at the store was akin to showing up at school naked – total mortification!
It occurs to me now that there’s a real contradiction in our society with how menstruation is treated. Having your period requires special behaviors, rules and products. We have to complete some of these tasks in public yet our periods are something that are supposed to be kept private. These are the messages we get, and that can be confusing when you’re a young woman experiencing something new for the first time.
As an adult now, I could care less who knows I’m having my period and when, mostly as evidenced by the blogs I have written here for you fine people. I know now, with age, that my period is a good thing. It’s a natural thing. It allowed me to bring two beautiful little people into this world. I don’t fear it and I’m not ashamed of it. But the real question is how we can go about changing things on a societal level when it comes to views of menstruation?
I think we have to begin by asking ourselves why we feel the need to downplay our periods or pretend they don’t exist or even hide the evidence of them. If you ask me, it’s all done to appease men. I do enough to appease the men in my life, so I’m done doing it with my periods. All movements of change start out small, and I for one am going to do what I can to stop making periods shameful and something that should be hidden. My womanhood is not an offense. I’m going to menstruate out loud! What are you going to do?
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