The older I get the less concerned I am about the little things, but still the idea of bleeding through my pants in public is enough to ensure that I am always prepared for my monthly. Because I remember very clearly that first day I got my period. I was in church with my dad wearing a white skirt, and my period leaked all the way through. I was devastated and embarrassed beyond reason! At age 11, getting my period wasn’t on my radar. Even my mum didn’t believe me when I told her, and she made me show her my underpants.
These days, I think of New Zealand as being very progressive, yet attitudes surrounding periods haven’t changed that much since I was an adolescent. Each month I stand at a market stall selling period undies and without fail there will be multiple young girls, dragged over by their mum, who are way too embarrassed to even consider the word period, let alone talk about it!
This happens for several reasons. It’s normal to feel shy and apprehensive about getting your period. It’s a big change and for many girls it can be unexpected and emotional. For some families, talking about periods is no big deal, while for other families it may cause complete anxiety. What creates even greater period shame is a lack of understanding (for both girls and boys), negative attitudes towards periods, and a when teens and preteens are shown that it’s normal to talk about periods in hushed tones, or while blushing or looking embarrassed.
The problem with period shaming
The problem is our young girls are getting bullied at school and made to feel shame and embarrassment by getting their period. Shaming can come in many forms. From being teased and picked-on to having others openly whisper about them. Period shaming can lead towards to body-image issues, anxiety, and self-hate.
Ways to help reduce period shaming
I believe we all have a role to play in trying to reduce period shame. Here are some ways that can help.
- Try not to shy away from conversations about periods. Instead, create a space for girls and boys to talk about periods openly.
- Girls and boys need reliable information about periods. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your kids about periods, make sure they have other ways to access this information. Maybe watching a video or reading a book together would be easier.
- Try talking about your own experience with periods. It’s easy to forget your experience as an adolescent. Before you swiftly dismiss any feelings you may have had of pain, cramps, embarrassment or cultural expectation, pause to reflect, and then share.
You may be a parent, aunt, or family friend. We can all do our part to help open the conversation surrounding periods.
- Girls starting their journey into womanhood is something to be celebrated! In order to create open conversations, we need to increasingly discuss what we need to get through our periods. For me, I like some extra alone time at the start and sweet food. It’s important to listen to your teen or preteen, so that you can help her sort through her feelings until she is more comfortable with menstruating.
- Boys gain so much pride from getting pubic hair or growing taller. Yet girls are made to feel embarrassment, shame, and fear. It’s not fair. We can help change this by instead sharing body positive messages. Such as –
‘You are becoming a kick-arse woman! Let’s celebrate by getting take-out’. Or ‘Owww, how exciting, it’s the start of your next journey!’
- It’s important to help our daughters understand that they too can help smash the stigma, by talking to friends about their period. The more they talk about it, the more confident they will become. The more confident they become the less concerned they are when people try and shame them for something that is completely natural.
Take the pressure off your teen or preteen by ensuring they are prepared for when the time comes. Both with products and information! Try Vivo Bodywear today.
This month, I’m running a special on my Happy Camper Period Pamper Pack. Check it out today!