I have a strong conviction that we don’t need to worry about the future generation of young teens ever facing a lack of general knowledge on periods or be caught by surprise. This is partly thanks to today’s easy accessibility to online forums, recent growth in platforms dedicated to female health and other brilliant activities and groups.
I have though an unrelenting concern about how the topic is approached, even in support groups. Future generation of boys and girls would benefit if periods were viewed through a lens that is not shaded with outdated ideas and notions burdened by shame, taboo or stigma.
A less obscured lens would let us view the period as part of a bigger process that is there for a greater cause. It would let us recognise the importance of the menstrual cycle and its instrumental role in our emotional health and physical well-being. We would also be reassured that there’s no hidden agenda behind menstruation.
We would perhaps go as far as being awe-inspired by the meticulous doings of the ovaries that often happen with an impeccable time accuracy.
Why are we failing to attribute the act of resilience with the successes of enduring and overcoming period pain?
If we were to explain the menstrual cycle to a focus group compiled by aliens, with no preconceived ideas or prior exposure to media we would probably hear a different evaluation. They might say, it’s an expression of strength and resilience that is taking place in a woman’s body, month after month. They might refer to it as an ultra high-tech machinery which meticulously does its job while we go about our lives and if we are ever into procreating and making this planet move forward, the cycle gives us an opportunity to grasp.
In an age where slogans have taken over social media with messages encouraging the power of learning from past pains and difficulties and with the Education Secretary highlighting the importance of resilience to be taught at schools, we have periods as the zenith of perseverance and resilience.
So, it’s incredibly unhelpful or rather not advisable to be coy about this recurring endured pain, that it is overcome and easily forgotten until the next round. I doubt Mother Nature is this coy about its abilities of tornadoes, freezing temperatures, blooms and blossoms and golden leaves.
But why are we failing to attribute the act of resilience with the successes of enduring and overcoming period pain?
Regardless of culture or geographic location, already at the early age of 9–12 girls are unwittingly learning and applying endurance, managerial and organisational skills through their periods, which are qualities to be immensely proud of. Unfortunately we repeatedly tell a different story, a story of inhibition in relation to girls and period. We echo terms such as period shame, taboo, and stigma – words that are truly jarring with this fascinating monthly spring.
Growing up with Iranian parents in Stockholm, there were clear differences in the approach of our household to my Swedish friends’. At home much fuss was made around the period and on what to eat and not eat or how to manage it all. A necessary know-how passed down, that tightly goes hand-in-hand with an underlying belief that if you look after yourself during your period you are investing in and ensuring a longer and easier fertility. There’s certainly no scientific proof or study on that but inevitably this notion makes the period a unique asset for each and every girl.
Knowledge is power and power is the fruit of self-esteem. There’s more to your and my period as they are only a fifth of the entire process. They may be the most visible and loud part of the cycle but we can get further in the process of empowerment by shifting our attention to a more 360-degree outlook and learn about the entire cycle, the different phases and how they benefit and affect our general well being.
Let’s not get bogged down with whether blue or red ink should be used in sanitary commercials. However, as a creative consultant, I would encourage use of golden liquid, only to be more in line with the preciousness and the grandeur of periods.