Women menstruate. It’s a natural process that shows that your body is functioning healthily. However, despite the fact that about half the global population menstruates, has menstruated, or will menstruate, it remains a taboo subject in almost all cultures.
Period-shaming is an effect of menstrual taboo, and while it may seem like a harmless handful of comments on the surface, its problems run much deeper. Period-shaming causes women and young girls to be repulsed by their periods, yet remain naive about the natural cycles of their own bodies by teaching them that menstruation is something to be ashamed of.
You can use these simple tips to work toward eliminating period-shaming from your own life and from our culture.
Call it what it is
“Aunt Flo,” “shark week,” “on the rag,” and “monthly visitor” are just a handful of the thousands of slang terms women use to identify their period. While these names are cute, creative, and fun to say, using them instead of saying “period” makes the word itself seem unclean and impolite. This causes us to internalize the idea that menstruation is something that is too dirty to be discussed and discourages women from learning about their own bodies.
The next time you discuss menstruation with your doctor or amongst friends, make sure to use the correct terms.
Support anti-shaming organizations
Eliminating period-shaming has recently grown to have a global agenda and there are many organizations that work in the United States and abroad in order to stop menstruation taboos.
RACKET. is an organization that partners with other groups to collect menstrual hygiene products to distribute to people in need.
Free the Tampons Foundation works with business owners and in public policy to ensure that all bathrooms provide access to menstrual hygiene products.
THINX is a groundbreaking organization that created “period panties” that use specially designed fabric that absorbs liquid and fights bacteria. Plus, for every pair of THINX purchased, they send funds to AFRIpads, which employs local women to sew and sell washable, reusable cloth pads for girls and women.
Supporting, following, and buying from these organizations and many others like them is a simple way to work toward ending the stigma against menstruation.
Learn about all menstrual hygiene products
Most women use tampons or pads during their periods, but there are so many other menstrual hygiene products that are available. THINX’s “period panties” are one new technology that allows women to menstruate without worrying about leaky tampons or running out of supplies. They are the newest product available, launching a little over three years ago in January 2014.
Another lesser-known product are menstrual cups, which “catch” menstrual blood. They are inserted into the vagina and removed and rinsed when they are full. There are several brands of menstrual cups available, including several reusable types made of rubber or silicone and one disposable cup.
Tampons and pads are the most well-known hygiene products, but there are also more environmentally friendly versions of them, including reusable cloth pads and sea sponge tampons.
Knowing all your hygienic options can allow you to pick the one that is best for you, not simply choose the one that is the most well-known. Being comfortable with your own period is a vital first-step toward ending period-shaming.