Written by Heather Walswalchdevries
Art by Elena Chabbi
“I might shower tonight,” I told my friend and colleague Scott.
“Whoa, is that time of the month again?!” He replied, referring to the ongoing joke that my sense of hygiene is severely underdeveloped, and that if I was a Sim the little thing above my head would be permanently red because of my lack of showering. I laughed at his witty reply, playfully slapped him and went on with my day.
My female colleagues who witnessed our interaction were less amused. “What did Scott just say to you?!” They asked me, appalled. It took me a few seconds to figure out why they looked so shocked and then I understood: They thought Scott had asked if me if I was on my period.
Now let me mention this first: I have the IUD coil rammed into my uterus about a year ago so I’ve been blissfully leading a period-free life since then, but before that, I, like every other woman on this fucking planet, had blood coming out of my vagina every bloody month. From the first time when I was about twelve and woke up thinking I’d soiled myself in my sleep (why was my first period blood brown? Was everyone’s brown?) to last year’s surely-my-period-is-almost-over-sex which, as always, lead to a very messy cocktail of bodily fluids.
In those twelve years of suffering a few days per month I have gained a few pearls of wisdom and experiences I wouldn’t have gained otherwise. From having my friend coaching me how to put a tampon in from the other side of the door, to handing each other sanitary pads as if they were drugs -God forbid somebody finds out that you’re on your period. In my last year of primary school, we asked each other in hushed tones who was all “O”, the first letter for the Dutch word for period, because the most important rule that one learns quite early is that nobody can ever know you’re having a case of Dracula’s teabag. Hide your sanitary pads, wrap your used tampons in kilometres of toilet paper, endure your cramps like soldier and carry on like nothing’s happening. This, of course, is ridiculous and should change.
The reason why we should talk about periods is because it’s normal. It happens to the majority of women, every single month. Some women can’t leave the house because they’re in so much pain, some women hardly feel anything. Some women bleed for seven days straight, some don’t. Some women get their period on the exact same date every month, some start bleeding at random points throughout the year. Women are already told that so many aspects of our bodies are disgusting and something we should hide, such as sweating, stretch marks and bodily hair, so let’s just take a second to remember that periods are sign of our body doing its job properly and something we should be chuffed about. It’s just a shame that the uteruses couldn’t just send monthly texts saying: “hi bbz, not preggers. Ttyl.” But they don’t.
Yes, it’s messy, inconvenient and ruins a lot of underwear but it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s time to normalise it. It’s time to talk about periods, period.