*This post contains sponsored content*
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well.
Today, I’m talking to you about periods; yep, that good old menstrual cycle that we all love so dearly, and can’t wait to receive from Mother Nature each month.
Now, of course I’m joking; periods are inconvenient at the best of times, they can be painful and messy and involve more trips to the toilet than we would like in the day. But I got to thinking; what if part of the reason we all feel like our periods are the worst possible thing to happen, is because of the way society sees them?
I remember when I started my period; I was 12 years old and on holiday in Spain. I was wearing little white shorts, and walking down the beach with my mum and my God mum who I was on holiday with, as my dad was working and couldn’t get time off. Anyway, we found some sun loungers on the beach, I kicked off my white shorts to the bottom of my lounger, and lay back in my bikini. I remember my mum clocking my shorts, which I hadn’t realised were now not exactly white, but had a huge red stain on the back; I’d started my period, in quite possibly the worst outfit known to man. Just typical of my luck!
We left the beach, a sarong tightly wrapped round me, blood soaked shorts bundled into a carrier bag and then into my mums large straw beach bag, and made our way back to the hotel. I was absolutely humiliated, my mind whirring around with thoughts of how many people must have seen me in those tiny white shorts, decorated with a huge blood splatter. If I had cut my arm, and had a blood stain on my t shirt, I wouldn’t have been embarrassed at all. However because of the stigma attached to periods, and the fact we are constantly made to feel like periods are ‘disgusting’ and ‘unclean’ and we must do everything possible to hide our time of the month, I was mortified that anyone should know I was becoming a woman, and had started my period.
Bodyform UK, one of the UK’s leading feminine protection brands, have conducted a survey on periods in the UK, and I was gobsmacked at the results, showing how the ‘period taboo’ is very much still alive and well.
52% of UK girls said they would rather get bullied at school then discuss their periods with their parents, and one in five admit that no one has ever spoken to them about periods.
It’s no surprise when you hear statistics like this, that even as grown women in their 20’s and 30’s like most of my readers are, that periods are still a no-go area in conversation.
Why is that? Periods are something over 300 million women and girls worldwide go through at any one time, and it’s probably one of the most natural things in the world. It’s something that’s been happening to our bodies since the beginning of time, and it’s an essential part of creating new life, yet we are constantly made to feel like we daren’t discuss it. It’s ironic that the people who shame us for our periods, are on this earth purely because women have periods.
How many times have you had your period at work or school, and brought your handbag to the toilet, or put your tampon or sanitary towel in your pocket or up your sleeve, because the thought of anyone, especially men, seeing you carry a sanitary product fills you with embarrassment? You’re in a toilet cubicle, there’s no peg on the door for you to hang your bag, so you’re holding onto it whilst trying to sort yourself out and unwrap tampons/sanitary towels – it’s a bloody nightmare (pardon the pun).
Don’t be hard on yourself for doing so – we’ve all done it, myself included, because we’ve been conditioned to do so.
A massive 9 out of 10 girls and women have admitted to going to great lengths to hide their periods, by cancelling plans, avoiding wearing tight or light coloured clothing, calling in sick to work or school, hiding sanitary products and walking quickly and avoiding eye contact when going to the toilet whilst carrying hygiene products so that no one stops you and finds out.
I have always been very open about my period, simply in the fact that I will say to friends and family ‘I’m on my period’ (if it happens to be relevant!) or ask my friend in public if they have a spare sanitary towel, and not lower my voice; because why should I? To me, it’s no different to asking for a lip gloss. The more we have these conversations and don’t shy away from them, and the more open we are, the more people will just have to get used to it and accept the normality of it!
Another thing I’ve found, is the stigma around not using tampons. I’ve always struggled with using them, and so in the end I gave up, and only use sanitary towels during my time of the month. I find tampons uncomfortable and just not for me, and as pads have always worked perfectly for me, I see no reason to not use them.
Around a year ago, I tweeted about sanitary towels, and a girl tweeted back saying ‘Who on earth wears sanitary towels anymore, are you 14?’. It sadly isn’t the first time I’ve heard things like this being said.
It really made me realise there’s a whole other stigma surrounding periods, not just in the general sense of talking about them, but what you actually use for yours; it seems to just be a ‘given’ that you use tampons, however for a lot of women they don’t work for them, and vice versa with sanitary towels. You should be using whatever works best for you and your body, no one else.
I have an ex boyfriend who used to find my time of the month, in his words, repulsive. I hid it away from him, however if he ever caught a glimpse of a sanitary towel whilst I was getting changed for bed, or when I once leaked on my bed sheets during the night (it happens – I’ve never once spoken to a girl who hasn’t leaked on her period before, even with sanitary protection), he told me how he found me, and the situation, disgusting, vile and just unnecessary.
It made me feel like less of a person; I was so ashamed, and mortified, and I begrudged what happened to my body every month so much, purely because it was an inconvenience to him.
Thankfully, I got rid of that mindset, and I got rid of him, and I’ve never once felt an ounce of embarrassment since.
Bodyform UK are working hard to break the stigma, just like we should be too. They want to change the way women and girls perceive their periods, and normalise talking about it.
You can head to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Bodyform where you can take part in the discussion about breaking the stigma, and changing the statistics that you’ve read about in this post – because quite frankly, it’s not okay, and we need to do something about it. We need to talk to our friends, mums, sisters, daughters, aunties, colleagues and pupils about periods, and to open up the conversation, to make sure they know that there’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
As women, we have enough to deal with during our time of the month (stomach cramps, bloating, emotional highs and lows and ruining a good pair of knickers!) without feeling like we need to apologise for something our bodies do, that we can’t control.
Let’s embrace the conversation, educate ourselves and others, and end the stigma around periods.
I’m a woman. I bleed for 5 days a month. What’s your superpower?
All my love BGP xx
*Thank you to Bodyform for sponsoring this post. They are a brand I’ve used for so many years, so it was a pleasure working with them on this post!*