I was thirteen and still sitting on the toilet in a daze when I heard the swoosh-click-whirr of our rotary phone. I listened to my mom squeal out the news to my grandmother.
Good grief, Mom. Could you pass a girl something to mop up this blood? Grandma can wait a few minutes.
That was the last time my period was framed as a thing of wonder.
Until 13 years later when I discovered Lunapads. I dragged along two reluctant, but curious friends to the Lunapads warehouse in Vancouver. I needed to make sure it wasn’t some elaborate internet joke before placing an order.
I walked away with a starter kit and a shift in thinking. My friends, who had also been lured by the flannelly goodness, each left with their own stash.
Sure, there was something unnerving about the idea of washing a bloodied pad. But co-founder and sewing maven, Madeleine Shaw taught me there’s also something powerfully sacred involved. Having to deal intimately with my own blood forced me to tune in to my body. To consider and appreciate its parts and systems.
|Using disposable products all those years allowed me to maintain a harmful disconnect. It perpetuated shame and embarrassment.|
A few years after I started using cloth pads, I placed a second order and it came with information pamphlets. I mustered the courage to leave the pamphlets in the staff washroom of the school where I worked. I also sent out an email inviting interested staff to inspect my new, never-used products.
After school, I passed a group in the hall chatting about their disgust with reusable sanitary items. I think I embarrassed them when I stopped to say, “Hey, I can totally understand how you’d feel that way, but it’s actually pretty cool and empowering!” One woman couldn’t believe I had sent the email to all staff—male and female. “This isn’t something men should have to think about!”
I lacked the ovaries to stand up for myself and shuffled back to my room. I was in the middle of an “It’s okay! You’re okay! You’re not disgusting!” self-peptalk, when a colleague in her early fifties entered my classroom in tears, holding one of the pamphlets. She squeezed me hard and thanked me for sharing the information.
She told me her periods had been a source of discomfort and pain since she was young. She said the Lunapads were going to change her life. I danced a little jig and pulled out the Luna stash from my desk for her to oogle.
While I was frustrated with the women who shamed me, I was also thankful to be in a place where I no longer believed my period was gross and something to spare the world from.
Last week I celebrated twelve years of reusable period products by stocking up with my third round of goodies. This time I brought them home to share with my ten-year-old daughter. I invited her into my bedroom and spread out my products on the bed. I placed each one in her hand as I explained its purpose. We talked about the arrival of Emma’s first period and what she can expect.
|“When it happens, we’ll make a trip to Lunapads and I’ll introduce you to Madeleine and Suzanne, the women who changed how I feel about having a period.”|
“Mom, it’s kinda gross when you leave your pads soaking in the sink.”
“Sure, fair enough. But you and dad are safe and besides, what’s a little blood to the family that farts together? If you think about it, it’s a pretty cool thing my body is doing. It doesn’t have to be gross.
But you know what I love most about Lunapads and the DivaCup, Emma? It’s been twelve years since I’ve created any waste. Before I found out about Lunapads, I threw away multiple pads and tampons every day for a week a month. It’s a good feeling to do something great for my body and the earth.
Some day you’ll have a bloody pad of your own to wash in the sink!”
Isn’t the exact period conversation I imagined someday having with my daughter, but I think it’s a great start to a healthy body image.
|I’m not going to tell you I feel particularly in love with my period or celebrate its arrival each month. But I love that Lunapads sparked a desire to talk more openly and create spaces for others to do the same. To stop feeling shame and embarrassment. To teach my daughter that her body is beautiful and complex.|
“The best thing you can do for your vagina is to stop using conventional feminine hygiene products. Tampons and pads are full of perfumes, chemicals and materials that can cause internal abrasions as well as irritate your vagina. The non-absorbent, healthcare grade silicone of The DivaCup is reusable and leaves no trace or residue after use. Plus it’s comfortable and when inserted properly does not leak.”
I alternate my Lunapads with the DivaCup. What the DivaCup website says above is true for cloth pads: they’re safe, reusable and comfy.
People! Listen up—those disposable products are bad news bears. Make the switch. Your body will thank you.
If you’re still not convinced, Period Talk is a great resource for “Questions and answers for those seeking better periods!”
Shannon has written on the web since 1998 when you could make a grilled cheese sandwich before your page loaded. At Truthfully she writes about vulnerability, courage and mental health. At Data With a Soul she has the entire web on a spreadsheet. Before content strategy, Shannon spent nine years teaching small humans.