A few days ago, a follower mentioned that her 9-year old daughter had gotten her first period and it really got me thinking. My daughter is eight years old and in about an year or two, we will be expecting her first period. She has been educated on the subject, (as well as my almost 7-year old son) and is well aware of what to expect when it is her turn. Anyways this piece was written for her, based on my experiences and my hopes for a future which destigmatizes menstruation.
One day soon your body will welcome you into womanhood by bleeding onto your underwear, completely unannounced. We’ve talked about this day and we’ve even prepared for it. But if you are anything like I was and probably the rest of the young girls starting their menses for the first time, you will despise your body and cry at the misfortune of having been born a woman because at that age, it just feels so unfair. Besides it is what we’ve been conditioned to feel by a world that treats menstruation like the plague. But I want you to be brave and break this cycle so that your daughter and your daughter’s daughter and her daughter don’t feel shame or sadness at the thought of starting a function so primitive and natural; a function which essentially makes us woman.
Like the moon, which waxes and wanes and comes back renewed, you will also establish a cycle of your own as the lining of your uterus sheds and then builds itself up again. One day this lining will serve as the fortress which protects your unborn offspring, until he or she is strong enough to survive on their own. You will come to realize this nutrient-rich blood that you find between your legs once a month that may or may not be preceded by awful cramps, is neither a curse or a misfortune. You need not be ashamed for it is not dirty or impure. It is infact the most purest of pure as it connects you to not only women but your ancestors, Mother Nature, and the universe in ways you couldn’t imagine. If you ever doubt the magnitude of that power, try to remember that your menstrual cycle has the ability to synchronize with the cycles of the women around you. That is the depth of this phenomena which we idiotically shun as humans.
It is in essence a life form, and without bleeding women, humankind simply will cease to exist. Our blood brings forth life. Tell that to the boys and the immature men that you meet along the way that feel grossed out by the fact that you bleed – these men that were once welcomed Earth-side bathed in the blood of their mothers. Tell that to the boys and men that will inevitably look at you in disgust when you leave a stain on your pants, or on a bus seat – it happens to the best of us. Proudly educate them on a woman’s anatomy and particularly that of the bodily function vital for procreation. Let knowledge stain their minds so they grow to empathize with the girl or woman embarrassed of the stain her body left behind. Tell it to the men who associate any emotion you feel with you being on your period – The men that fail to understand that emotion is linked to sexual energy which is correlated to creative energy which is feminine energy and the source of all of creation.
But also remember you alone won’t be able to educate every man as centuries worth of patriarchy has been embedded into them; so much so that they utilize their thick layer of ignorance as a shield to protect them from the truths you speak of. But do not feel defeated as the universe will have it so that they bear daughters who teach them to respect and honour the female body and the wild but sacred river that flows once a month through it. You need not let the remarks of boys or men be the reason that you feel indifferently, for there are boys and men untainted by the misogynistic views surrounding menstruation that will help you become accustomed to your journey as a woman. Men like your grandfather who took it upon himself to launder the blood-soaked clothing I left in piles in the bathroom, when I was a young teenager who couldn’t predict my heavy cycle and who now comes over when I’m suffering cramps to walk your baby brother to sleep. Men like my friend who never fails to ask me how I’m doing and if I’ve eaten while on my period and men like your father who has picked up pads when I have run out of them and makes sure I have my favourite snacks during my time of the month.
But most of all rest assured that the sisterhood united by bleeding wombs, will take care of you when you find yourself stuck panicking in the school or mall bathroom with no sanitary napkin or tampon to contain your monthly visitor who has caught you by surprise. You will come across girls and women, essentially strangers, who will without a second thought offer you their last Ibuprofen simply because your cramping uterus needs it more than them. And some days you will be that girl or woman doing the giving because that is how this sisterhood of bleeding wombs operates. So dear daughter, when you spot that blood for the first time, fear not and instead, rejoice. Welcome, embrace, and nurture the changes that come with the flow of your first period. I’ll teach you how to live by your womb, tapping into the power that comes with the fluctuation of your female hormones. I’ll surround you with the energy of the strongest wisest, and kindest women we know and we’ll together take care of your body, nourish your soul, and celebrate you – decorated in jewels and flowers – in joining the sisterhood that encompasses us menstruating women.