How We Can Break The Period Stigma
Aunt Flo arrived at my doorstep this month, as usual. I was lucky my Kali box was sitting pretty underneath my bathroom vanity, but I was in no way prepared for the massacre this month’s cycle would bring. My favorite pair of undies ruined, I headed into work that Monday morning with a face much like that emoji dude who has a straight line for a mouth: not enthused one bit.
Midway through the day, I peaked my face out of our shared office bathroom and discreetly whispered to my female colleague to get her attention. I mouthed “TAMPON?” to her, desperate for any kind of help. Lo and behold, she was fresh out. I then slinked past the men of the office and asked my only other female coworker for help. She offered me nothing more than a sorrowful, sympathetic shrug.
I ended up giving my boss a bogus reason for making a quick run to the neighborhood market. But…. why?
Why do I have to make up an excuse for something that happens to me every single month? Why does any girl feel the need to be “discreet” when on her cycle? Is holding a tampon in our hand so offensive? Is it really that big of a deal for men to know that a woman is currently menstruating?
The answer is, unfortunately, pretty muddy. Some men choose to ignore this necessary bodily function for women. Some men are incredible allies and are supportive and understanding. Some men cringe and cry and act like small children upon hearing any term related to our monthly cycle.
I feel this year will be an incredible year for women. We are working so hard to maintain the rights to our own bodies, which have recently come under fire as political parties argue over whether or not women’s free health clinics deserve funding (insert exasperated eye roll here). And while we may not be able to control certain aspects, such as our absolution from the “tampon tax,” we can make our voices heard…
This means sharing our opinions via social media, our blogs, and — most importantly — that old-fashioned means of communicating: word of mouth.
Start a conversation. It’s as simple as that. No, the conversation with your coworkers, partner, or friends might not initially change much other than their opinions on the matter, but strength in numbers means starting small. We start by letting go of the shame we have. We start by audibly asking for a tampon in class. If an immature or ignorant coworker or classmate has something to say on the matter, shut ‘em down. Ask the person why he (hopefully not she) feels the way he feels. Start the conversation and hold your ground.
Share articles and blog posts such as this one to your friends and family by posting it on your Facebook page or whichever platform is your favorite. Get people talking, because that’s when we begin to change others’ viewpoints. We educate those who have yet to explore these topics. Sometimes, in order to make an impact, we have to dive into matters head-on.
Whether it means posting an article on the “tampon tax,” sharing videos and photos of those bold women running marathons tampon-free to raise awareness, or, for those less-inclined to bleed in public, you can change the conversation.
This is your body, and your body is so incredibly beautiful. Having your period means your body is capable of giving life, and no one should cringe at the thought of your body doing what it does naturally. It’s not like we asked for this bodily function, but we certainly have it. No one should ever make you feel ashamed for something that is completely out of your control. No one should ever make you feel ashamed for your period — period.
The next time you need to ask for a tampon or excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, don’t make something up. Don’t hide your voice as if you’re asking for illegal substances. After all, no one would flinch over you asking for a roll of toilet paper, so why should these products be any different? The more we take our periods into a casual zone, the more chance we have at breaking the stigma attached.
Because you are perfect the way you are, whether you’re currently menstruating or not. It’s absolutely that time (of the month) to join the revolution.