Talking about menstruation is necessary to understanding it.
By: Ashley Simonson
Blood coming out of your vagina isn’t something that most people like to discuss. It’s not often that this monthly visitor comes up in conversation — or on your social media feed.
That’s why photographer Rupi Kaur’s March 2015 Instagram photo stood out, which showed a girl laying on a bed with period blood on her pants and sheets. Instagram took the photo down, flagging it as inappropriate, but eventually reposted it after public uproar.
So why is a bikini photo appropriate but a period photo inappropriate? Why is it so easy for us to sing along with vulgar and degrading lyrics about women’s bodies but when it comes to a natural process, we shy away?
Menstruation is a natural process that women go through every month, and yet we don’t talk about it. It’s as if society hides the fact that we pay rent each month just because we are uncomfortable talking numbers. But by ignoring this seemingly off-limits topic in conversation, we prevent young girls from talking about and understanding their bodies.
Molly Riley, who got her period when she was 14, said she had to figure it out mostly on her own.
“I don’t think anyone told me what was going on. Honestly, no one talked to me about it. My mom’s mom never talked to her about it. And she had the same mindset. She didn’t want to talk about it,” Riley said.
If menstruation wasn’t such a hushed topic in her family, Riley said her confusion could have been easily cleared up.
“I remember there was one time where I had a cramps so bad, and I didn’t know what was happening, and I panicked and thought I was dying.” Riley said.
Amanda Norman, who first got her period while at school, said she got little support. “I went to the nurse and told her it was the first time I had gotten my period, and I wanted to call my mom because I didn’t know what was going on,” Norman said. “She was absolutely no help. She gave me a pad and told me to go back to class.”
Sex education—which includes learning about menstruation — isn’t always required in schools. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that specializes in sexual and reproductive health, fewer than half of the states require sex education.
“Schools do not cover it enough at all and I think that definitely needs to change,” Norman said. “If young kids were taught more about it, it would help make it not so taboo to talk about and also make it easier for girls to transition to having their periods.”
Since she didn’t get the information she needed at school, Norman said she was lucky to be able to turn to her mom for help understanding her period.
“I think my mom being a nurse really helped me in this aspect because she always taught me to be interested in bodies and not grossed out or embarrassed by them,” Norman said.
Norman said she wishes topics like this were spoken about more openly and more frequently.
“I think women’s problems are not really viewed as important enough to talk about,” Norman said. “And that in itself is the issue.”
More Photos From Rupi Kaur:
LINK TO HER WEBSITE: http://www.rupikaur.com/period/