Sanitary Stigma- Are You Comfortable Talking About Periods?

Sanitary stigma (1)

I look back a little embarrassed and sad at a certain event at school in 9th Grade. Someone had presented the teacher’s desk with a sanitary napkin. Covered in spotless white plastic, clean, the pad was curiously turned over, poked at. Some certain classmates thought it was the funniest thing to have ever occurred and jeered around it. Being a meek fifteen-year-old girl who had always been presented with the pads wrapped in newspaper, I was scandalized. I felt queasy, dreading embarrassment on behalf of all my female comrades. We grew up wary of red spots on white skirts, resorting to blue ink and chalk to salvage ourselves from shame. For those of you not familiar with the whole elaborate process of handling menstruation, at times our blood leaks out, oblivious to the sanitary pads that line our undergarment and hence the red stains. Sports days were harrowing if on periods. One wrong athletic movement and the red river might just ooze out and stain our silver track pants.
In the society we inhabit, there still is not complete awareness about menstruation despite the diverse global communities. Class education teaches us the biology of it but not many of us are fortunate enough to be explained how to handle it. Children, regardless of gender, if educated at the right age that menstruation is a biological process that every female body undergoes physically when puberty hits, will have the notion of stigma removed from their minds up to a certain degree. I remember having a friend who believed that periods were occurrences to rare individuals and was contemplating suicide for being victimized by it. This is the kind of repercussions that ignorance imparts.
With the recent attack of pad pictures we have been presented with, I contemplated a lot about how and why to even perceive it. It may be interpreted as a promotional hack but addresses and advances towards awareness about an extremely hypocritical aspect of our society. Birth of a child regardless of social standing is celebrated the most. But the very initial start of the process has been chalked out as a stigmatized experience.
In a recent set of interviews conducted by our team, the response received was a rather positive one with the young generation strongly advocating the need for putting a stop to the stigma surrounding menstruation. Most have arrived at the simple conclusion that bleeding is the same as breathing.
Extra protection for pads in the form of newspaper wrappings in black polythenes is quite unnecessary. Would you expect an orange fruit in its thick orange covering to be wrapped in plastic and carried home in yet another bag? Red spots are the same as oil stains on clothes. Periods are normal. Period talk need not be hushed at all. Flowers will not wither away by the touch of a woman on her period. No God has ever personally made an announcement that women on their monthly period are to not engage in the “holy” activities of respective organized religions. Those of you still uneasy with it, calm your nerves and read aloud – PERIOD, PERIOD, PERIOD.

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