Learning to Love My Period, Part 1

Learning to Love My Period, Part 1

Hello! My name is Becka, and I am a New Zealander making my home here in Vancouver with my husband and two grey cats.  I'm trained as a teacher, but now work as a doula while running a little online store with said husband where we sell various crafty wares.

As a teacher and women's health advocate, I am really interested in and passionate about body awareness and positivity in relation to health and feeling self-empowered.  However, growing up with little to no sex education I can say that this has definitely not always been the case!

For a long time, my body, and especially my period, was a source of shame mixed with bewilderment.  To be honest, it wasn't until well into my twenties that I felt like I had any understanding of my body.  It just wasn't something that was talked about. I was reminded of this when my Grandma came to visit us recently.
As I was showing my Lunapads to her and my aunt, she mentioned that periods were never to be spoken about when she was young.  This didn't surprise me and I made some quip about how we're often being made to feel ashamed of our bodies, etc.  What did surprise me was her response: that she didn't feel that it was because of shame.. but, that it just 'wasn't done'. I decided not to press the issue, despite my feelings that the very fact things 'aren't done' or taboo are usually because of some sense of shame, whether self imposed or dictated by society, you know?

This conversation got me thinking about how far we've come since my grandma was a girl in the 40s and 50s. We have developed more user friendly menstrual products, for sure. Many of these have made it easier for women to continue with activities or lifestyle choices they may not have been able to with bulkier and less manageable products (think swimming and other sports related activities).

I think the freedom that this provides women is fantastic, however I sometimes have to wonder if we've actually come much further in terms of true freedom and feeling both good about, and empowered in our bodies as women.  Despite the huge variety of menstrual products now available to us, it still feels to me like we're often talking around menstruating rather than engaging in an open dialogue about it.  To be clear, as I mentioned earlier, I think convenience is a great thing! It has meant that women are no longer hindered because of their period.  I also don't think there is anything wrong with being discreet, if that is what makes you feel more comfortable.

 As for talking about our periods, there are many reasons why women have felt uneasy about this.  On the one hand, menstruation is a healthy and natural sign that our body is working the way it is supposed to.  On the other hand, they can be painful, uncomfortable, very heavy and even a source of emotional pain.  While we know intellectually that menstruating isn't dirty or unclean, this may be exactly how we feel during our period.

I will be the first to admit, despite my thoughts on celebrating our periods as something positive, more often than not I do not feel very celebratory during my own period! In saying this, I do believe that talking about our periods openly is a good thing. A healthy thing, in fact.  It can encourage us to be strong, independent and in charge of our own bodies, instead of feeling like victims of mother nature. This doesn't necessarily mean only talking about periods lovingly or in a positive light, but sharing both the good and the bad stories, our triumphs and our frustrations, what has worked and what hasn't worked for us.

The nature of Lunapads and reusable menstrual products in general has already played a large role in normalizing menstruation and has opened up a dialogue surrounding this, which I am really thankful for. Getting to a place of confidence and empowerment has definitely been a journey for me, and having a forum for discussion around my feelings has played a key role in this. I would love to share this with you more in my next post!

In the meantime, if you'd like to share some of your thoughts, feelings or stories about how you have learned to love your period (or not, as the case may be), please do so and comment below!

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