It was around the age of 8 or 9 when me and my cousins were bold enough to ask our mothers about sanitary pads. I still remember the time as clearly as right now.
It was a celebration at one of my aunt’s home and my cousins and I were playing hide and seek. One of us had opened the cupboard to hide in and there right in front of us was a packet of sanitary pads. We had seen the ads about this product on television but had never vocalized our questions about it before.
Curious as children always are, we now huddled and exchanged our thoughts on what sanitary pads meant to each of us.
‘A diaper for adults, a toilet wipe, a sponge’ and countless other theories followed. Our hide and seek game was forgotten over this interesting object. So engrossed were we in our discussion that we didn’t notice our mothers enter the room to see why we had gone so quiet all of a sudden.
Our mothers stood there aghast when they saw us examining the packet of sanitary pads. Our aunt whom it belonged to strode forward, took it from us and hid it deep within the confines of her cupboard. As if hiding it would prove its non-existance.
They then asked us what we thought we were doing. Honest souls as we were, we replied, “We wanted to know what these are used for.” Our mothers exchanged looks before saying that they would tell us when the time came but to forget about it for now.
Let off with that, we continued with our hide and seek game while our mothers sighed in relief at the close shave they had. In time, when my period started, my mother taught me all about menstruation, as well as the dos and don’ts. But it wasn’t before my first period that she told me all this.
She should have.
If I ever have children, I will educate them about it when I feel they will understand about it, or when they begin to have queries about the subject.
Did you know that *a staggering 71% girls are unprepared for their first period!? That’s not at all good.
We are deeply conditioned to feel bad about periods that even I sneak my way to the washroom with my sanitary pad hidden, hoping that none of my male colleagues notice anything. There is no shame in menstruation nor is it taboo. It is a natural process, just like digestion and excretion. Yet, many times I’ve encountered situations where it is considered impure for a menstruating woman to sit near a God’s idol or even enter a place of worship, where women are not allowed in the kitchen for the duration of her menstruation.
The very process that is part of life creation is considered IMPURE! The monthly blood discharge consists of the unfertilized egg that could have become an embryo, a child! And people talk about it in hushed tones as if it is a contagious, disgusting disease. This HAS to STOP.
Fortunately, when I was growing up, I had friends who openly talked about menstruation and the issues that came along with it – like severe cramps, unbearable pain, headaches, body aches, bloating. We also discussed solutions to tackle these issues. Our teachers too were understanding and helped us deal with menstrual issues. Currently, the women I know openly discuss menstruation. We need more people like them in this world – those who don’t shun menstruation and instead treat it as a natural part of our lives.
Period is what every woman identifies with. It is part of her identity. In shaming period you shame the woman. People have to be educated more about menstruation. The myths around it have to be dispelled. Start from home, with your family members and then graduate to your friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
If anyone asks, tell them:
Period is natural, period is a sign of womanhood, Period is Pride.
Link to Write Tribe to know more. Naari is an organization that spreads awareness and advice among women about periods.
Did you know?
*Chemicals like Dioxin which is found in disposable sanitary napkins is a known carcinogen and has been linked to ovarian cancer, abnormal growth in reproductive organs, impaired thyroid and immune dysfunction. Dioxin has even been added by WHO in their list of Dirty Dozen – List of 12 harmful chemicals.
Do visit Naari to learn and understand more about menstrual hygiene. We all need to know as much as we can about periods without attaching any stigma to it.
*As per Naari’s findings.
Have you also experienced period shaming or any myths about it? How did you counter it? Would also like to hear from the men about their thoughts on menstruation.
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