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Why are periods shameful? Break the silence around periods by encouraging young girls to buy their own sanitary napkins, and see them grow into confident girls!
I had my first period earlier than most people I know. I was an 11-year-old, still quite unclear about the whole concept, when Aunt Flo decided to visit me.
So, at that age firstly there was the stigma about being ‘different’ from all my classmates, since none of my friends faced it so early. Secondly, came the very difficult proposition of managing the whole stain episodes. As if these were not enough, the problem of buying pads seemed to be the scariest of them all. I couldn’t buy those myself for the fear of being judged.
I know all these problems seem silly now but it was definitely these big monsters inside my head at that age. And I’m sure, that irrespective of the age when your period starts, most girls go through the same ordeal. Don’t you think the time has come to eradicate this stigma attached to the most natural thing on Earth?
I’m sure things are changing for the better and I feel one small step will help our young girls even more. Can we please encourage them to buy their own sanitary napkins or tampons?
Let me tell you why I think this is important.
I remember the times when I was in my initial years of my periods. My mother would surreptitiously pass a chit across to the chemist and the latter would hurriedly wrap the sanitary napkin in newspapers and then black polythene. It was like holding something shameful in your hands. I remember never having the guts to go and buy pads for myself, I was so conscious about the stares from the chemists and the other customers in the shop.
My relationship with sanitary pads changed overnight when I was in class 8. One day, our biology teacher told us, “Why do women act so ashamed while buying pads? Your body is undergoing a beautiful change and preparing you for motherhood. How can that be so shameful? Why are we not allowed to do certain things during periods with the ‘excuse’ that we are impure?” Then she started telling us how she looks at the chemist directly in the eye while asking for pads and how she stares back at people who take the liberty to stare at her at the medicine shop.
Something changed within me. I didn’t want my period to be an embarrassing affair anymore. Not only did I start buying my own napkins but I’d even discuss about the pros and cons of the various available brands with the chemist before making a choice!
As with everything else, it was entirely my perspective that needed to change. And the rest of it fell in place!
Some of the chemists would be so embarrassed that they’d not even make eye contact and the rest of them would reflect my casual demeanour. If any customer stared after hearing me say ‘Whisper’ out loud, I’d just turn to them and give my sweetest smile. To my amusement, I’d observe the look of guilt while they lowered their heads. It actually became a fun and liberating affair for me.
Once you start feeling confident about something that you’ve been taught to be ashamed about, you see that the most difficult path becomes a cakewalk.
Hence, this is my earnest request to all you mothers, aunts, sisters, relatives, out there. Please let the young girls in your lives buy their own pads. You have no idea what a confident woman she’ll grow up to be!
I can’t express how liberating it is, to this day. I can walk up to any crowded chemist shop and ask for my tampons or pads. It is as easy as asking for a digestive pill.
I’m grateful to the lady who injected this confidence in me. Please gift that confidence to the young girls of today. They’ll thank you later.
I remember once while I was in college, I was pulling something out of my bag and my sanitary napkin that was wrapped in newspaper came out. I put it back inside but a male friend was insisting on seeing what it was. I was annoyed at his curiosity but didn’t hesitate to show him what was inside.
As I’d foreseen, everyone who witnessed the incident including the guy who wanted to see my ‘secret package’ were embarrassed beyond words. I still don’t understand why. How is a period such a shameful thing? When my husband was in the U.S. for his MBA, his female friends would buy tampons in his presence, just like they bought all other groceries. When can we bring this level of normality regarding periods in our country? I think letting our young menstruating girls buy their own sanitary napkins can be a good starting point.
Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by
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