pe•ri•od (noun): [pee-ree-uh d]
A period is the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her vagina for a few days.
There is this lady I read about on the internet today. She threw a “Period Party” for her daughter when she got her first period! She did this to discourage the notion behind viewing one’s period as a bad thing. The theme was red! So all her friends and her daughter’s friends had to wear red, and there was red food, red drinks, and red decorations. I thought that was brilliant!
I see how society makes a woman feel ashamed to be female. We are made to hate ourselves, our body shape, our nails (why else would you feel the need to put those unnecessary fake nails that got you looking like Cruella de Vil?), our hair (weaves and wigs much), our diet, the way we speak, generally our state of being. I mean we are made to be embarrassed and apologetic about being on our monthlies. It’s an astronomical taboo to even acknowledge out loud that you’re on your period. Like I’d be talking to my friends at a restaurant, and I’ll say, “I’m on my period,” and they’ll be like “ssshhhh, keep it down, there are people around…” and some of the said people- who apparently heard my pronouncement- would start looking at me like I got 3 heads on my shoulders.
You hear mums say how their girls cried as if the world had come to an end because they got their period. I came across a health website with a kids questions section, where a girl was asking how she would tell her mom and dad that she got her period. Or when you read the stuff on Twitter and Facebook said by boys about the ‘tragedies’ and ‘inconveniences’ brought about by their girlfriends’ when they are on their period. See how when you’re in the supermarket trying to buy some sanitary pads or tampons, and it’s like you’re crossing a frigging highway. Cause you have to look right, look left, look right again, confirm that all is clear, before you can proceed to that particular aisle. Which makes me wonder.
Let me give you a little lesson here real quick. What really happens to lead to this is that Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is produced by the body (the pituitary gland to be specific- yes I’m just gonna go ahead and sound geeky). This particular hormone prompts the maturity of an egg in the ovary, plus stimulates the release of the oestrogen hormone. Oestrogen stops the FSH production (we don’t want more than one egg to mature right?) and stimulates the production of Luteinising Hormone, which is responsible for releasing the mature egg from the ovary. Here, the ovary releases progesterone which thickens the uterus (the uterine lining to be specific) and prepares it for pregnancy. If fertilization of the egg doesn’t happen, then the hormone levels fall and the uterus lining is shed off- as our menses. (And by shed off I mean, rip down the walls inside our womb!)
Why did I find it necessary for that Biology lesson you ask? Well, I just wanted to remind you that the combination of the aforementioned hormones is what kept you comfortable in your mother’s womb before you were born. To tell you that this particular period is the reason you are alive today. See what I’ve learnt about shedding our period is that women know how to let go of unnecessary things. We have learnt the art of regenerating. We understand the beauty of becoming fresh and clean. Yes, this influences how we behave but who said change and renewal was easy. So go ahead girl and rejuvenate.
A female is introduced to recurring pain at an early age, and in some places in India, humiliation and Isolation. During this time of the month, she will be moody, have weird cravings, she will have to restrain from wearing her favourite white dress for fear of staining, and she will be on her toes. See our period teaches us how to be prepared every month. It also reminds us of our strength, because the week of pain doesn’t break us no matter how many times it comes back. We know how to trudge on, if not bounce back. It shows us that we can take care of ourselves and the people around us because of how resourceful we become in order to reduce the pain. And most of all, it demonstrates the control and verve we possess because despite the pain, we still get to work, study, love, laugh and live. Our period teaches us how to be ready for the expected and the unexpected, how to battle up for war, and how to be strong.
The other thing you can learn about our period, is the metaphor behind the fact that our menstrual cycles synchronize, when we spend a lot of time with our female friends, sisters, mothers or co-workers. Our body hormones speak to each other. Our cervices understand each other. There is a whole lot of power behind sisterhood. The lady said, all the people she loves know how to bleed with her. So why cower and become shamefaced when you get your period? Why hide away and feel less of what you are when you start to bleed? I’m not saying you should walk around with stained clothes or use tampons as erasers; but don’t you dare apologize for going through what is biologically inevitable and completely normal. The red from our body makes us females what we are. Phenomenal.
So ladies, go ahead and put on that pretty dress, walk down that aisle like a boss, and take your time deciding what you want to use for your period. Next time you get your menses dear, let it remind you of the potential and authority you hold. Let it remind you of the warrior you have become because of the much you can handle month in month out, year in year out. Next time you unintentionally mark you sheets, sofa, dress, chair, and car, with the colour red, don’t be sad. Just smile and remember all the good things about being a woman. And as for society, remember all that next time you mock another woman’s period. Remember this when you get daughters: that girl who just got her menses deserves respect, because that bleeding represents life, warmth, strength, influence and power. Period.
Cheers to the ladies who know how it feels like to bleed for humanity.
P.S. For mothers with young daughters out there, you might want to read THESE GUIDELINES on how to go about her first period.