Writing by Freya Bennett // Photograph by Alia Thomas
LOVE your period.
Because, on average, you are going to have about 500 in your lifetime, so what’s the point in period hatin’?
I am constantly surprised and disappointed with how much period negativity we have in our society (and societies around the world). You just have to open a magazine or watch an ad on “feminine hygiene” to know that the world isn’t loving your period.
They may try to fool you a little, with their happy, bright and over-the-top ads, but what’s really being said is that we should be very worried about what comes out of our vaginas.
How many products exist that cater for “down there”? With a quick look at the Libra website, (one of Australia’s largest pad and tampon company) I found 47 items in total for sale in their range. I already knew they were trying to sell us a lot, but 47 items? This is overkill.
Often we are told we not only need to wear pads and tampons during our period but we should be wearing panty liners throughout our cycles to look after the mucus. For one, think of the environment! Panty liners are not often made from easily biodegradable material, mix that with everyday usage, that yields a hell of a lot of waste. And think of yourself—panty liners are not made from breathable, natural materials, that presents a lot of unnatural materials touching one of the most sensitive parts of the body, the vagina.
We are also being told we should use wipes to “freshen up” down below, to get rid of “odour” and to feel “clean.”
Something that every woman (and man) should know is that the vagina is self—cleaning; you don’t need to douche, you don’t need to use fresh wipes, and you don’t need to wash anywhere inside your vagina. A gentle wash on the outside when you’re in the shower is plenty, and in actual fact, over-washing your vagina with douches and wipes can make it more prone to smell and irritation because it upsets the natural pH. How is THAT for irony?
For a while, I was confused by the messages in advertisements because the girls in these advertisements seemed so HAPPY, so “carefree,” and so full of confidence!
But I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that there is a darker underlying message: you alone are not good enough. You need products not only during your period, but all cycle round.
Ads that hide behind a “caring” façade are actually quite dangerous—they mention smell, moisture, and the discomfort of discharge, but I bet most girls wouldn’t have even thought this was a problem until it is mentioned. I know I never had a problem with my cycle and discharge, and I never noticed a smell. Underwear alone deals with discharge so why wear panty liners and contribute to polluting our world? (Not to mention wasting quite a bit of money).
So now to the POSITIVE!
Your period is AMAZING!
It’s a reminder each month that your body is working well and that you have the ability, if you choose, to have children.
When you are healthy, and your hormones are balanced, having your period needn’t be too painful an experience. We all get a certain amount of cramping, bloating, and fatigue, but if you are taking care of yourself, it shouldn’t be debilitating (and if it is, it’s definitely something to check out with your healthcare professionals).
Some women even find they have great creative surges during their periods!
One of the most important things to remember is to look after yourself, and not only during your period. I have noticed that if I have a month of unhealthy eating, minimal exercise and high stress, I will have a particularly painful period. But if I really focus on being kind to my body, my periods are just fine.
I acknowledge that some people do have really problematic periods, dealing with things such as irregularity, heavy bleeding, severe cramping and fatigue. This aspect is never fun, and I guess like anything, we can hold comfort in the fact that we aren’t alone.
Personally, I believe that a big reason many women don’t have great experiences with their period is because they forget to slow down. In our fast-paced, instant-gratification society, we don’t let ourselves have any down time. I’m not saying all women need this, but I know I sometimes need a day or two just to rest a bit, to eat a lot and to simply forget all the things I have to do.
We all have different experiences with our periods and we need to learn what will make us feel the best we possibly can.
So what I challenge you to do over the next couple of periods is to see if you can find what you love about having a period. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the bloating, the fatigue, the grumpiness. It just means be kind to yourself, be grateful that your body is healthy, and notice things about your period. How in tune are you with the moon cycle? How in tune are you with other women’s cycles? Start small, and see if it makes you feel just a little bit better about that time of the month.
Most importantly of all, be kind to yourself.[share]