Why you should embrace period positivity
There has long been a stigma about women’s menstrual cycles. Young girls often feel ashamed to talk about getting their first periods and a large majority of women feel the need to hide their sanitary products away. But our menstruation cycle is a naturally occurring thing – it’s not ‘disgusting’ or ‘dirty’ or anything to be embarrassed about, and in order to change that, we need to discuss it more. So today, in honour of Menstrual Hygiene Day, we’re talking about why we should celebrate our cycles.
Menstrual Hygiene Day aims to spread awareness about the importance for women and girls to hygienically manage their menstruation – in privacy, safety and with dignity – whoever you are and wherever you live in the world.
Image via @safespaceco
Whether it’s running out of tampons when you need them the most, or experiencing those wild mood swings (thanks PMS!), first world period problems are definitely real. But they’re not half as tough as what a lot of women in developing countries still go through when it comes to that time of the month.
According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people across the globe lack basic sanitation services and in some countries, only 27 per cent of the population has a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. For the women and girls who lack these basic facilities in their home, dealing with their periods is a monthly challenge. This includes homeless women, who often have to resort to using makeshift sanitary products during their periods, such as newspapers and toilet paper.
Furthermore, there are still a lot of countries that heavily stigmatise women's’ menstrual cycles. In the most extreme cases, some countries forbid women from cooking or even entering the home while on their period. And while in Western society we’re undoubtedly more accepting, we’re a long way off where we need to be.
Thankfully, there are a lot of women out there dedicated to eliminating the stigma around menstruation, as well as encouraging further conversation about period education, accessibility and conversation.
On social media, there are a number of Instagram accounts dedicated to embracing period positivity. There are also more than 16,000 posts under the hashtag #PeriodPositive and more than 30,000 with the hashtag #MenstruationMatters, which aim to help women to connect with one another about their periods and break the taboo.
Image via @_caitlinhalliday
Brands such as Lunette Australia are doing their part to tackle the sustainability issue that goes along with pads and tampons, creating the Sustainable Period Project, an initiative to educate students on sustainable period practice. Charities such as Share The Dignity provide sanitary items to homeless women, and Dignity Period are working to provide menstruation education for women in Ethiopia.
So what can we do to help erase the period stigma? Well for starters, we can just keep talking to one another. Whether it’s via social media or over coffee with your girlfriends (or your boyfriend – it’s important that men are better educated about periods to eliminate stigma), every conversation we have about our menstruation helps to break down shame and embarrassment.
In honour of Menstrual Hygiene Day, here are a few of our favourite sustainable menstrual cups: The DivaCup ($55, menstrualcupsaustraliaonline.com.au), Lunette Menstrual Cup - Clear ($55, lunette.com.au).
Do you embrace period positivity? How do you think we can break the stigma around menstruation?