Have you heard the latest? Chances are, if you’re a woman, you’ve not only heard it, you’ve experienced it first-hand. It’s period shaming… and it’s a real thing. For as long as periods have been around, so has stigma against the naturally-occurring and, for most parts, unavoidable process. Fortunately, women are no longer allowing the continuation of such shameful responses keep us from boldly stepping up and out about our cycles – or that of other women all over the world who still struggle greatly with undergarments and understanding.
While we here in the US are overwhelmed with options for period products (sadly, including the higher taxes on such also), there are many women who are far from dealing with these first-world issues and instead are actually missing school or even using old cloths to help absorb their monthly menses. In fact, in other countries, due to a lack of products and even restroom access, girls are dropping out of school, impacting their overall education and quality of life into adulthood – all because of the lack of resources in an otherwise taboo and misunderstood happening.
Fired up yet? Whether it’s fighting the good fight there and providing resources, or facing the fronts here in the US and bringing down the “pink tax”, there is a lot you can do to help with period shaming. Here, we list just a few ways:
Flu Season versus Flow Season.
First and foremost, it need not be a secret when you’re on your cycle. Of course, if you choose discretion for personal reasons, so be it. But the moment you feel you have to lower your voice or negate how you’re feeling because it could be “too much information” or perhaps “offensive”, consider if you would lower your voice for any other reason. For example, when it’s flu season (a common and natural occurrence, men and women alike have no issue discussing their sinus problems, feeling sick and so on) Why would discussing the natural symptoms that accompany the regularly-scheduled “flow” season be any different? Headaches are headaches – no matter the cause.
Pillow (and Sheet) Talk.
Again, personal preference here ladies, but ultimately, sex during your period is “ok”. Granted, you’ll want to be mindful of everything from safety to conception, but from a standpoint of pure aesthetics and cleanliness period sex is nothing to shy away from. In fact, many women report being more sexually aroused during this time of the month. All too often, however, women have reported fear around being seen as less clean or attractive during their cycle because of the addition of blood or discharge that accompanies the other fluids already involved. If your partner is hesitant, hear out their concerns. If it is solely a matter of aesthetics, consider a towel that makes cleanup easy. What’s more? Let your partner also know that those pesky pelvic cramps can also be decreased from the activity.
Call it what it is - “period”.
Okay, okay, maybe we are guilty of this too as we just played on the words flu season and flow season above, but overall, did you know that there are, according to the period-tracking app Clue, there are over 5,000 euphemisms for menstruation around the world. Sure, calling it “shark week” or referencing “Aunt flo visiting” can be seen as comical or less offensive, it’s also one of the reasons others feel they have permission to do the same. By calling it by name, it’ll become more and more common and less mystical or even mocked. You know your agenda. If you’re saying it for inside jokes, right on. If you’re saying it to use your “inside voice” about a topic that outsiders might not entertain, consider your motives and express accordingly.
Find the Humor in the Hemorrhaging.
It happens to every one of us. Whether it’s an untimely start of a cycle or even a soaked product that leaks into the backside of our favorite jeans, consider that leaks are common and somewhere else in the world, you are guaranteed at least one other woman is with you today. The best way to respond is both to laugh it off, clean it up as best you can and improvise like we women do best in the face of challenges. If it happens to a girlfriend or fellow cubicle comrade, don’t meet her possible embarrassment with additional rosy cheeks. Simply stay strong, provide her support where you can and once all is said and done, move on quickly right back to another topic or task.
One of the best ways to end shaming around periods is to be prepared – both intellectually and with items that combat the shame. Preventatively, consider ourApele performance panties made just for moments like these! They catch ALL mishaps (not just period blood, but discharge, urine and more that can result in shame). In addition, consider staying educated on how period shaming is morphing and combat it with facts and stats that help educate and encourage others on the truth of the matter – there is nothing shameful about periods. Period.