Last month for the first time I wrote about having my period on this blog. One of things I discussed is the fact that menstruation is treated like a dirty little secret that no one really talks about. We go out of our way to hide the evidence of it, because we have been socialized to believe that it makes our bodies somehow foul and unclean.
Unless we are being sold midol or being told how to keep our periods from "ruining" our clothing, the period is invisible in everyday discourse. Have you ever looked at woman and wondered if she menstruating just like you? Have you ever wondered how she feels about it, and what the process means to her as an individual? I think that it is time we start talking about this. I think it is time we start celebrating this. To that end, on the first day of my period every month I will put up a post inviting exchange regarding our shared experience as women with menstruation. Please feel free to send me an e-mail throughout the month about specific aspects you would like to discuss on this issue.
I will kick this one off by talking about my first period. Puberty was something that happened very early in my life. I had breasts when I was 8, and got my first period right after my tenth birthday. I remember the year before I got my period reading Are You There God It's Me Margaret. Even though I was younger than the girls in the book I really related with their desire to mature.
I remember the girls in the book doing bust exercises to grow breasts and laughing wildly because at the age of 10, I was a C cup and wanted them gone. After reading this book I frantically checked by underwear for signs of a period for months until that faithful day in August when I opened the bathroom door and screamed to my mother, "I got it." She smiled and informed me to "stay away from boys".
Seeing that my body was developing my mother had already had the conversation with me regarding protection. With the exception of purchasing tampons for me, she bought different brands of pads and allowed me to choose the ones I wanted to use.
I had no idea that the period that I was wishing for would last for more than one day. I was shocked to awake the next day to find out that I was still bleeding. I was even more shocked to find out about the cramps that came with it. I am pretty sure that had I known about the pending discomfort I would not have wished so desperately for it.
When I think about that day, I smile, and not because I view it is an accomplishment, but because I see it as a time when I was to innocent to understand the ways in which having the ability to menstruate would effect the ways in which the world viewed me. On the day I became a woman, I still had no idea that world viewed womanhood as less than. On the day I became a woman I still believed that attaining womanhood meant having the equal opportunity to stake my claim in this world.
There have been times when I have looked back wishing for the lost innocence of that day, as the battle has taken its toll on me, but I have come to realize that each engagement, each shedding of my uterine wall is part of my evolution as personhood.
If I chose to hide my period treating it like some shameful experience I would be supporting the patriarchal construction of womanhood as dirty and diseased. My body is not foul nor are the natural processes that occur with my body. Each time I speak about my period publicly, or commune with other women, I am saying to to the world that all aspects of womanhood are worthy of being celebrated.
Please share your stories of your first period in the comment section.