How to Teach Girls to LOVE Their Periods (and Why You Should).
You only have to consider some of the popular euphemisms used to describe menstruation, to know that it isn’t exactly seen in a particularly positive light. As women, we are often taught from a young age to refer to ‘that time of the month’ in code. We say things like we are having ‘a visit from Aunt Flo,’ we ‘are on the blob,’ we ‘have the painter’s in’ or that it is ‘shark week.’ In fact, a recent international study by Clue which surveyed over 90,000 women spanning 190 countries found that worldwide there are over 5,000 slang words or euphemisms for the word ‘period.’ This in itself highlights the long-standing and deep-seated taboo around the subject of menstruation. Not only are we taught to avoid naming it, the language we use about it conveys negative messages about the female body and menstruation that is internalised by our young people, regardless of gender. It is gross, messy, dirty, embarrassing, impure, shameful, painful and inconvenient.
But, it’s time to teach our girls a different way to think about their body, and their menstrual cycle by modelling a different narrative.
We know that perspective is very powerful at shaping our experience. Whatever we focus on grows. If we are taught to look for the negative symptoms, it is likely that that is exactly what we will find and focus our attention on. Remarkably, studies have shown that many of the less desirable physical and emotional manifestations of the Pre-Menstrual Phase (around week 4 of the cycle) can actually be minimised by developing a more informed and positive attitude about what is going on in our body.
Here’s What You Can do to Help Your Daughters (and Sons) Develop a Positive Menstrual Attitude
Ditch the Negative Language
Words have power. Instead of hiding behind out-dated euphemisms that teach our girls on a subconscious level that periods are something to be secretive and embarrassed about, use the correct terminology just as you would when teaching them any other bodily functions.
Reframe Menstruation as Something to be Celebrated
Menstruation is a major indicator of health. It not only symbolises fertility, but a regular period is also a vital sign that you are healthy overall, and that is certainly something to be celebrated.
Teach Them to Track Their Cycle
Whilst periods are naturally irregular at first, teaching your daughter to track the different stages of her cycle with either a diary or an app can be very empowering. Not only will this help them to predict with greater ease when they might expect their next period so that they can be prepared, it also allows them to pick up on other symptoms that present themselves throughout other stages in their cycle, such as a changes in vaginal discharge or heightened sensitivity, etc. The better our girls know their bodies, the better able they are to pinpoint when something isn’t right and seek the necessary medical advice.
Find a Sanitary Product That Suits Them
I know from experience that being handed a tampon at the age of 12 and being expected to insert it into your vagina, can be…well…terrifying! Fortunately, my mum was open and easy to talk to so I was able to express a preference for sanitary pads (which were far less daunting), but these days we have many more options available to us. Better yet, we are able to make informed decisions about what we use and opt for sanitary products that are not only better for the environment but also free from nasty chemicals, so they are better for our health. Believe it or not, the lining of your vagina is one of the most porous parts of your body. Menstrual cups have recently become very popular amongst women, and can be used alone or in conjunction with so-called ‘period pants.’
If you are yet to discover Modibodi period pants, believe me when I say they are a total game-changer! I recently converted to them (although I use them alone, without a menstrual cup) and I have never felt freer or more comfortable during my period.
Modibodi underwear is made from high quality natural fabrics and breathable tech-savvy blends (Bamboo, Merino Perform Wool and Microfibre) with the latest in antimicrobial fibres for a soft, silky fit. Modibodi recently launched a girls collection, specifically for tweens and teens too. They come in a range of different styles, that look no different or less attractive than the undies you’d wear on any day of the month, but they feature a gusset that locks away discharge, odour, blood, sweat and even urine, keeping you feeling fresh and free to get on with life.
Whatever your daughter chooses to use during her period, it’s imperative that she finds the option that suits her best as she’ll no doubt be using them for many years to come, so it’s important to present them with all the available options.
It’s a Great Time to Practice Some Self-Care
Whilst having your period needn’t stop you from doing anything that you want to, it is a great time to relax and be gentle with ourselves. In a world where we are always busy, jumping from one thing to the next at a frenetic pace, teaching our young women the importance of making time for self-care stands them in good stead for the future when they may have a family of their own and multiple people, other than themselves, to care for.