Normalizing menstruation

Mother Nature. Time of the Month. Shark Week. Period.

Menstruation is the process of discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus. This process occurs once every month for 3-7 days.

Alex Gresham

Menstruation is the process of discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus. This process occurs once every month for 3-7 days.

Every person who deals with menstruation dreads this time of the month. And while this is a topic that at some point everyone, girls and boys, learn about, it is not something that is often talked about. We need to start the conversation of normalizing menstruation as well as making girls feel comfortable with something that is made out to be gross or disgusting.

A point that I want to make very clear is that not every girl experiences a period and not everyone who experiences a period is a girl. This is something that is often overlooked when the conversation of menstruation is brought up; we tend to forget that there are so many different people that go through this monthly process. Just because someone may be secure in the body that they are born with and another person identifies as a different gender than that of which they were born as doesn’t mean that they can be pushed out of a prevalent conversation.

As a female who belongs to a culture that is conservative, it is hard to talk about these things without feeling embarrassed. There is a stigma around periods — as if they are shameful and dirty — which limits important discussions and awareness.

As if it isn’t hard enough at home, it doesn’t get any easier when we get to school. There is a feeling of embarrassment when you have to take out menstrual products from your bag and shove them in your sweatshirt sleeve. There is a feeling of pure fear when you have to stand up in class while you wonder if you have a giant stain on your pants. This feeling of paranoia often causes girls to become distracted in class as they are focused on not embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. This strips our attention away from education, all due to our fear of being ridiculed.

We are conditioned to think this way, conditioned to hide our period products because god forbid a girl goes through a biological function. It is time that we start raising our girls with the idea that there is nothing to be ashamed about and if anyone tries to poke fun at it then they are the ones who should be embarrassed for thinking that a bodily function is gross.

This conversation not only starts at home but at schools. There should not be a negative stigma around a girl going through this process. Whenever a girl is on her period, she does everything she possibly can to hide it from her peers, including hiding our menstrual products in our sleeves or in pockets of jeans (guilty!). Take a step back and really think, Why? Why should I try and hide something that is normal and happens to more than half of the population? We engrain this way of thinking into girls at a young age: Don’t talk about your period. Don’t flaunt your products around because it isn’t something to be proud of. As a young girl you begin to see this bodily function as something that is completely shameful.

The reality of it is that girls are often ridiculed for something that they can’t control. We are put to shame because our bodies are performing a function that is normal. If you see someone who looks like they have had an accident, don’t make fun of them. They are probably freaking out and you bringing attention to it in a negative manner doesn’t make them feel any better.

By normalizing the discussion about periods, we benefit all girls in the long run. They feel a little more secure in their situation knowing that they won’t be shamed or made fun of for their periods. As girls who know how hard this time of the month can be, we should help each other; if we see someone with something on their pants, pull them over and quietly tell them, maybe even offer a jacket or ask if they need a menstrual product. By us as a society making periods normal, we alleviate the fear and embarrassment that girls feel during this time of the month.