Every woman remembers the age or year Aunt Flo made her initial visit. It was April. We were outside for field day. Now, I was particularly fly that day with my striped shirt and white shorts. After a day of sitting on the bleachers and cheering for my friends all morning, we were now heading to lunch. I stood up to walk inside with my class and there she was all over my white shorts. I was so embarrassed! I ran to the nurse’s station. “Mrs. Reeves, I believe my period is on!” She calmed me down, gave me a pad, and told me to call my parents to come and pick me up.
When I got in the car with my mom, I was noticeably embarrassed. She tried to reassure me the best way she knew how. She told me that I had to keep myself clean and I could also get pregnant if I wasn’t careful. “Wait, what?!” I remember sitting in the car traumatized over what just happened. What will everyone think of me? How does this work? How do you put on a pad? What does this mean?
There was little to no discussion around those topics. Cleanliness. Cleanliness. Cleanliness. That was all I heard. And of course, just so you know, now you can get pregnant. Talks of periods and their biological implications and ramifications were never discussed in or out of class. Of course the school guidance counselor came to the class to give us the sex ed talk but it was all about abstinence and wrapping it up. It was not until I get to tenth grade Biology class that I found out the cause and purpose of having a period. Trial and error became my greatest teachers as I subconsciously bought in to what society dictated to me. Hearing only cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness, I subscribed to the notion that this was all there was to it.
Unless it was your OB/GYN, No one wanted to hear about it your period. No one wanted to see your period. Discretion became the key to lock the door to my feminine health. While it is projected that the world feminine hygiene products markets will exceed sells of $40 billion by 2022, there continues to be a disjointed view of menstruation. Mainstream society continues to view menstruation as anything but natural and normal.
Since the formulation of this patriarchal society, we, women, have struggled to gain control over our bodies and minds. The process of menstruation continues to serve in many cultures as a means to ostracize, dehumanize and diminish not only the female presence but also our voice. Collective ignorance further aids in the dismissal of women as fragile, emotional and irrational beings. If you are anything like me, you are especially in tune to your emotions both before and during the time of your cycle. If I assert myself or have a crying spell, I immediately dismiss it and attribute it to my cycle. This mental back-and-forth, hormonal imbalance, and consistent dismissal of self eventually take a toll on the psyche. These effects can lead one to believe that suffering in silence is the only way to cope.
As was the case in my village experience, no one talked about true feminine care and menstruation. If it wasn’t prescribed by your OB/GYN or located on aisle 7 at your local Wal-Mart, a product to treat what was “wrong” with you did not exist. No one ever talked about what it meant to love yourself pass what society deemed as normal. No one told me that you are to embrace your body and love it with all of heart. No one told me that while your body and emotional state may change, your essence does not.
SO, how do we reverse our stigma. One thought at a time. One action at a time. I am a firm believer that conversation brings clarity and that is what is lacking so much in the female world.
We, at The Lotus Connection, endeavor to provide educational conversations. Conversations around holistic approaches to address our common occurrence. Conversations around true health and wellness and how we can reverse generational curses by challenging ourselves for the better. Self-care and self-love is an everyday practice. With it comes lasting positive implications for us and those who will follow after. We look forward to connecting with you through this journey towards self-care and self-love.
Peace and Light, Shekina Beckham