I believe the process of opening a pad wrapper might be louder than my morning alarm. Hunched over in a public restroom, surrounded by women, I feel strange shame in doing what every woman has done every day since starting her period. Tampons, cramps, periods and birth control—these are part of our daily lives. And yet, we are taught to be hide something so natural and healthy for our bodies. How can we truly love ourselves if we are ashamed of a basic function of the human body?
In a recent Q&A with Her Campus, Kat Graham—actress, singer, dancer and model—discussed her own struggles with periods and birth control in general, especially the taboo on women’s health that makes women apologetic of their own bodies. “Why are we whispering?!?!” she exclaimed when talking about our tendencies to speak in hushed voices when asking for tampons. Whispering for tampons and pads or avoiding period talk in public seems like second nature. But, as young women go off into the world, we must break this toxic thinking. Kat Graham emphasized our need to be “an advocate army to erase this stigma.” We must stop apologizing for what our bodies are designed to do.
How can we erase the stigma? Kat, a brand partner for the birth control company Lo Loestrin, has adopted the practice of taking her birth control pill during her daily mindfulness time and journey towards self love. Instead of thinking of taking her birth control as a chore, Kat always takes a few moments to stop and focus on herself. She does meditation and sets her daily intentions. Laughing, Kat called her birth control her “limitless pill.” It may be a little cheesy, but it holds the important message of setting time aside to take care of ourselves, no matter how busy we are. Women’s health is often left on the back burner because things get busy and we can’t talk about it out in the open.
In The Cut‘s article “Great Moments in Menstrual History,” writer Maggie Mertens says “Menstruation is as old as humankind! And yet, it is so often left out of the history books.” As our generation goes out into the world and makes history of our own, we have the duty to change this. Kat Graham, and many other women’s health advocates, are working to bring period talk to the forefront of health conversations. With more celebrities being open about sexual wellness and birth control, young girls can see this empowerment and not inherit the same shame generations of our ancestors shared. Many women don’t even talk about birth control with their sexual partners, finding it too uncomfortable to bring up. Birth control, in all its shapes and sizes, is so pivotal to women’s health. Birth control should be empowering, not a dreaded conversation to have with your partner or doctor.
At the Q&A, Kat Graham gave an uplifting discussion about women’s health and sexual wellness and promoted open, healthy communication about taking care of your bodies. As young women, we have the opportunity to erase the stigma on birth control, periods, and all the other beautiful and natural things human bodies do. The female body brings life into the world, why should we ever be ashamed of something so beautiful? The next time you are in a public restroom and need to open a pad or tampon, embrace the loud crinkling sound of your body functioning just as it is supposed to and give yourself the love we deserve.