It’s Time to Talk About Periods

We live in a society that teaches women how to be ashamed. Far too often in this world, women are judged based on their physical appearance rather than their personal capabilities. Every day, magazines and television commercials promise success based on the brand of makeup you wear or the amount of weight that you lose. However, while the world constantly chatters about various beauty standards we are expected to conform to, it is oddly silent on the topic of menstruation. It’s 2019, so why is the word “period” still whispered in hushed tones?

The stigma surrounding periods becomes apparent at a young age. In the fifth grade, girls asked for feminine hygiene products in code, asking the nurse for a “nickel” instead of a pad or tampon. My high school didn’t even have bins for students to properly dispose of these products, and they were often thrown into the corner of stalls instead. Far too often, the world turns a blind eye to menstruation, and when it does address it, it feeds into negative stereotypes about women.

Period poverty is an issue that extends beyond the abstract and affects the day-to-day lives of women around the world. In some countries, women are still isolated from their communities, or girls are forced to miss school and work, due to a lack of menstrual resources. According to a study by AC Nielsen, only about 12% of women in India have proper access to sanitary napkins. Limited access to feminine hygiene products isn’t some distant reality, either. In the US, over 30 US states tax tampons the same way that they would tax luxury items. 

 

Image Source: Pexels 

Luckily, the future isn’t bleak. Around half of the world will experience menstruation at some point or another, and the average woman can expect about 500 periods in her lifetime. That’s a lot of time to accomplish change. Slowly but surely, opinions surrounding periods are slowly changing on the national and international level. Just this February, the short documentary Period. End of Sentence. won an Oscar.Image Source: Pexels

Even right here at Davis, there are so many ways to make a difference in the community. PERIOD at UC Davis works to end the stigma surrounding menstruation and is currently testing out a pilot program to provide free pads and tampons around campus. Our very own Her Campus chapter has an annual menstrual product drive in the springtime (so be on the lookout)! Everyone can and should be part of the conversation to normalize periods. It’s time to reject shame and silence, and instead embrace what our bodies are capable of.