I can remember my first experience of period shame like it was yesterday: I was 14-years-old and going through my first time being at school whilst on my period. I was sat on the toilet, pad in hand, waiting for someone to use the dryer so that I could finally open it. The idea of somebody hearing that recognisable rustle made me feel sick. Nobody, not even girls that were probably going through the exact same thing as me, could know that I was menstruating.
These days I talk about periods in the same way that I talk about the weather or how I like my tea made. It’s not a cause of embarrassment anymore. I’ve gone from double bagging my tampons to telling all of my Twitter followers about how bad my cramps are on a scale from 1 to 10. However, I know that not everyone feels quite so comfy talking in an open way about periods. It makes me sad, but the truth is that society does a brilliant job of making women feel ashamed of their bodily functions. Which is why when TOTM got in contact with me and asked me to be a part of their latest campaign, I knew that I had to. It’s all about opening up conversations about periods, getting rid of those stigmas and normalising chat that should already be normal by now.
As my contribution, I decided to talk about some of the ways that I’ve rid myself of internalised embarrassment and not only accepted my period, but started to celebrate it. Well, sometimes anyway.
Using natural products
Until about a year ago I hadn’t found a single sanitary product that I liked. In fact, I hadn’t even found one that didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out on a monthly basis. After discovering that conventional products contained chemicals that can lead to abnormal tissue growth, the disruption of hormones, vaginal dryness and a whole other host of problems, deciding what to use added a whole new level of anxiety to the time when I needed it least. Then I discovered the menstrual cup in all of its silicone glory, as well as organic tampons and pads, and the game was changed.
All of them make me feel like I’m doing good for my body. It’s like vagina self-care.
Getting in touch with my cycle
Throughout my teenage life I approached my period with a “if I don’t think about it, it won’t come” attitude. Obviously my uterus didn’t play ball. Instead I was left surprised ever time my period started and pretty much clueless as to what was going on with my body.
Learning about my own cycle kind of felt like I was reclaiming my body after puberty. I now use the app Clue to log when I’m bleeding as well as my mood and any pain. After a few months I was able to spot patterns and now feel a lot more in control. Knowledge is power and all that.
Using it as an excuse to pamper
If you’re not using your period as an excuse to get into self-care mode, you’re doing it wrong.
The day that I stopped treating it like a ‘normal week plus severe pain and constant bleeding’ was the day my life changed. Extra long Netflix binges, luxurious baths and all of the comfort food make me stop dreading the week ahead. If anything I get excited about allowing myself to just relax for a few days until the worst of it passes.
Treating it as a cleanse
For me, my period has come to represent a new start. Unlike the beginning of a year or month, it’s completely in tune with my body. By treating my period as a cleanse it loses its negative connotations and instead becomes a time to let go of the bad and set goals for the future. I meditate, I do yoga and I write in my journal to get rid of that which no longer serves me.
Following people who are period posi
Perhaps most importantly, it was fellow bloggers and Youtubers that helped me to free myself of the stigma I carried around for years. Tara from Cattitude & co., Grace Victory and, of course, TOTM are perfect examples of how a platform can be used to spread period positivity. I try to surround my social media feeds with their content to remind me that my period is normal and actually pretty cool.