I LOVE Christmas - and not just the day, but the whole run up which for me starts with intense
planning from November.
I have a teenage memory of one of my closest friends turning to me in late November, with a look of abject sadness in her eyes and telling me that she would be on her period on Christmas Day. For her, this was a genuine detraction from the magic of Christmas.
Instead of a waking up carefree with her sister, immediately climbing into bed with their parents and opening presents in pyjamas, she had visions of waking up alone (because it would be too traumatic for her younger sibling to be around for this) immediately going to the bathroom to sort out her flooded sanitary products, possibly needing a quick shower and to locate the painkillers. So generally dispelling the childhood innocence of Christmas morning before 9 am.
I don’t remember what I replied but I don’t imagine that my teenage self had anything particularly
eloquent or empowering to say on the subject. However I could empathise with that horror.
I remember feeling so disappointed with my body every time my period started at that age. It
represented the start of a week where I had to be constantly on alert:
- Calculating whether a tampon inserted at 8:20 would get me through to break-time;
- Thinking about where the nearest loos were;
- Dosing up on paracetamol;
- Alternating between loose bowels and constricting constipation;
- Generally being forced to focus on a body teenage body that I already wasn’t that keen on
I used to tell myself that my period had finished after four days if I didn’t see any fresh blood for a few hours, even though I was always a solid 7-day girl. All this achieved was further disappointment and several pairs of ruined knickers.
Somewhere along the way though I stopped feeling that way and periods got better. And with the Christmas season in full swing, a cup of mint hot chocolate in hand and Christmas tunes playing, I am going to try to articulate some period positivity with the hope of spreading a bit of period peace and joy this December:
1. Massive appreciation for my mother
I probably didn’t realize it at the time, and definitely didn’t thank her but my mother was amazing at getting me through those first years of invasive periods. She ensured that our bathroom cabinets were always stocked with a wide array of period products so that I could trial and error what worked for me without having to constantly talk about it. And, it’s a repressed memory, but she was definitely in the room the first time that I used a tampon, calmly explaining the insertion process…
2. Period products improve all the time
In the 17 years that I have had periods there have been significant improvements in the quality,
variety and comfort of the menstrual products on offer. Fellow BGP storage volunteers will know that I regularly make our job of logging by brand, size and type significantly harder by bringing in veritable variety bags of products because I want the people we donate to have a wide selection to choose from.
It took far too long in the grand scheme of things and too many women don’t have the right access but I am so glad that we seem to at last be moving past the rubbish inch-thick pads that get stuck to your intimate areas in the most wince-inducing ways.
3. Periods are natural
I’ve stopped myself from saying ‘normal’ as it is such a problematic concept but, in coming to
recognize how ‘natural’ periods are, I’ve managed to overcome my teenage feelings of abnormality.
Periods are part of a natural cycle our bodies go through - they help us to have children (or choose not to), they can be an indicator of health. The hormonal fluctuations that can make me alternate between irrationally weepy and angry can also make me feel so elated and lovingly connected to those around me… Blah blah, I think I might be a bit hormonal.
And above all, periods have helped me recognize and focus on things that I want to change in the
world. No woman should have to suffer the indignity of period poverty and, for me, it represents a
way to articulate how the battle for equality has not been won and a way to progress it.
I am so happy to have become part of the BGP community - I am so proud of how much
we’ve already accomplished and can’t wait for what 2018 will bring!
Tampon Christmas decs pic credit to CattywampusTX who actually sells these on Etsy! Order yourself some here