By: Kelley Bradley, IATG ContributorJanuary 4, 2016
Image by IATG
I think we can all recall the stories of getting our period for the first time. I was fifteen years old; although I think I told everyone I was thirteen. All of my friends had gotten theirs years before I did and the last thing I wanted was to be different from my friends. The morning I started my period, I was alone in the house. I was getting ready for school and my parents had both left for work. I was old enough to know what was going on, but it still came as quite a surprise. I searched for my mom’s supply of feminine products, changed into a pair of black pants, and headed off to school.
When I was in the 5th grade, all of the girls were pulled into a classroom and given “the talk” about menstruation. A female teacher (of course) revealed all of the details on what it meant to get your period for the first time. After the conversation, I remember the teacher telling us not to talk about the topic with the boys. It was considered inappropriate for the boys to know what puberty meant for girls’ bodies. I remember being told menstruation was nothing to be embarrassed about, but also not a subject to discuss freely.
It is strange to me that the very thing the female body was made to do, something so natural, is such a hushed topic.
In conversation, we whisper the word “period” and anything having to do with the topic. We pass each other tampons under tables and hide them in our pockets on the way to the bathroom. If I’m having a hormonal day or experiencing painful cramps, I only discuss it with my girlfriends or female co-workers. I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys about menstruation in the 5th grade, and almost twenty years later I still feel like I’m not supposed to talk about it with men. Women have been getting their period since the beginning of time, what’s with all of the secrecy?
On social media, I am seeing more and more conversations about breaking this stigma. I read articles and blogs, weekly, on period health, stories, and myths. The secrecy surrounding menstruation has been called into question. It’s a movement to let girls know there is no shame in talking about their period and a chance to bring education to the topic.
The shame girls can feel about publicaly discussing their period is something I have personally experienced. I have been dealing with an issue involving my menstruation cycle that could ultimately affect my fertility. I am working with my gynecologist and have confided in my mother and close female-friends, but mostly I have suffered in silence. It’s barely acceptable to discuss the normal details of menstruation, so imagine my hesitation in sharing my personal struggle (even with those closest to me).
The truth is I am relieved to share my story, because I know I am not the only girl to suffer from an issue involving her period. Even for those girls who have a “normal” menstrual cycle, wouldn’t it be better to know we’re in this together?
Getting our period is something we share as women, but the reality is that many of us have unique experiences in regards to our period and the side effects we endure. My personal hope is that by breaking the menstruation “taboo,” we can start sharing our experiences, help bring education to the topic, and bond over embarrassing period stories (we all have them!).
I encourage all women to join the “period” conversation. Bring attention to the articles you read. Share period stories you are comfortable sharing. If a friend needs a tampon, it’s okay to hand it to her without making it a top-secret mission. Let’s put an end to any shame or embarrassment and normalize “period talk” for girls everywhere.
How can we take the stigma from talking about women’s health? Tell us below.
Kelly is a Midwestern girl, a daughter, sister, and friend. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising, but has always had a passion for writing. Kelly also loves photography and music. She hopes to inspire young girls and women to discover and embrace what makes them truly extraordinary. Tweet her @KelBee6
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