At the beginning of their bodies transition, young girls view their periods (menarche) as a negative change. Most girls at this point in their life are not educated or they haven’t had an open conversation about menstruation and what changes she would need to be aware of. These young women feel alone when going through this transition, as they experience menstruation alone not knowing what it meant. The positive self-image women need to have about menstruation is long overdue; it is a conversation that needs to happen in every young girl’s life before they get their period.
Women to this day have felt disconnected from their bodies. Having to go through the first days of menstruation without knowing much about it. This misunderstanding of body changes leads to a negative self-image of oneself. Bleeding, cramping and feeling pain are the symptoms most young girls experience on their own, and they misunderstand why they are going through this natural change. The reaction behind this negative experience has been passed down from generation to generation. Most women don’t address these natural changes to young girls, and so preparing and teaching young girls about their changing bodies will allow a change in the stories of menstruation.
How can we begin to celebrate menstruation? In a short answer, women can begin celebrating their menstruation by loving the body they have and reconnecting with it. Menstruation is a once in a lifetime transition from being a little girl and becoming a woman. It is a natural change happening in a girls life, and her body is working as it should to renew the womb. Therefore, having open conversation about this transition in a girl’s life will allow a safe space for support when it comes to this powerful, and important time. If we continue to see menstruation as a stigma, then it will continue to keep women from searching for support, and shame will rise above how women view their bodies. So, there needs to be change in the way menstruation is perceived. The societies we live in should celebrate and praise menstruation similar to how men’s circumcision is celebrated.
In Muslim and Jewish communities, male circumcision is celebrated for traditional and religious reasons. The celebrated procedure of circumcision is performed inside the home of the young boy. Men who are circumcised as a young adult or at the age of adolescence is represented as a transition from boyhood to manhood. Furthermore, in these celebrated ceremonies there are demonstrations of bravery and manhood to educate these young men about their responsibilities and duties as an adult.
Specifically, in Turkey there are traces of the Ottoman culture that left people to conduct these religious ceremonies as a party and feasts. It is also said that weddings and circumcision ceremonies are viewed as equal in importance in the social life of the Ottoman Palace. The boy who is to be circumcised is dressed in clothes that resemble a Sultan’s or King’s dress.
Clearly, young men are being praised and celebrated for a surgical procedure that is decided by their parents who follow tradition and religion. This surgical procedure is one of the oldest, and it is still being done. Why aren’t women praised in a similar way? Women are menstruating to be able to have babies, not to fit a tradition or social norm. Women don’t have the same opportunity to choose whether to have a menstruation or not, so why aren’t they celebrated in the same manner as men? Women have to deal with menstruation much longer than men have to when they are surgically circumcised. Women menstruate every single month of the year, but they aren’t celebrated for enduring such pain or changes to her body.
Women deserve to be celebrated from the time they get their menarche all the way through the stage of menopause. Menstruation does not have a voice in any society or religion. Women are shamed for their bodies’ natural change in most cases, but men do not face the same oppression and shame women have to. Women should be able to talk about their bodies openly, without judgement, and with celebration. Women need to feel as if they own their own bodies by being able to have the right to talk to other women about what is changing, what they need, and what their boundaries are. The rites of passage for women need to be celebrated when it comes to menstruation, so it can be understood and it can become normal to talk about with other women and even men.
His & Hers PMS Calendar on The Doctors TV show.