Ending Period Stigma. We've come a long way recently with things like more honesty in advertising, better products (like Modibodi!) and movements that open up conversations to the public. However, period stigma is still a huge issue across the globe, especially with some cultures still banishing those on their period from their community.
Simran Mackrani is a 15-year-old student from Queensland who is passionate about equity and the environment. She comes from an Indian background and has had a first hand experience with culturally oppressive views on periods and has witness how menstruation has changed throughout the different generations. Here's her experience with being introduced to periods and how it's shaped her views.
"I am one of the lucky ones. Lucky in the sense that my mum does not to subscribe to archaic period practices that are so deeply ingrained in our Indian culture. Growing up, my mum suffered the consequences of decades of discrimination against normal, female bodily functions. Comprehensive knowledge regarding periods, reproduction and gender identity was non- existent. Periods and sex were taboo to discuss, even with your own mothers. Girls and women on their periods were forbidden to participate in prayer or eat prasad (offerings). They were told they would spoil the pickles and bulk foods if they dared to touch them while menstruating. My mother followed a strict regime of hair, sheets and towel washing during her period. Something most, if not all girls experienced.
These ridiculous concepts of sudden ‘mould growth’ in food and being impure on your period are still widely believed, the severity of this discrimination varying across the world. Even in Australia, my cousins uphold the tradition of steering clear of the prayer room and isolating themselves from religious events if they are on their period. I still remember conversations between two of my cousins and aunt leading up to my cousin’s marriage. They were discussing the two of them going on ‘the pill’ for the wedding. Why would you need to stop your period for a wedding, you may ask? Well, according to our ‘beliefs’ a menstruating girl/woman would bring bad luck if she entered the wedding house.
From such a young age, girls are shamed for something completely natural and out of their control. They are belittled and deprived of education about their reproductive system, which leaves most girls unaware and feeling ashamed of their bodies.
Although periods are less taboo in places like Australia, remnants of a time where girls and women were shamed for their periods are still visible. From casual comments about women ‘PMSing’ and being ‘too emotional’ to discretely sneaking sanitary pads and tampons to the bathrooms, the stigma surrounding menstruation is still prevalent, just in a less obvious way.
Personally, I admire companies like Modibodi which aim to be both environmentally friendly, and work towards normalising the conversation about menstruation. I feel fortunate that I have access to comprehensive education about my body, and that I do not have to uphold these old traditions. Throughout her life, my mother struggled with the age-old idea that menstruation, among other things, was taboo. Her experiences have shaped my own as she elected to ‘unsubscribe’ herself from Indian practices which dictated what she could touch, do, and discuss. Attending an all-girls high school has also played its part in education and normalisation of discussing periods."
At Modibodi, we are constantly striving to break down those barriers and open up the conversation on menstruation. Through our work with menstrual educators and various organisations across the world, we hope to educate and inform young girls and boys, so that periods are a normal part of life and should not be shameful.
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