On Periods & Cheeky
The way women relate to and talk about their bodies (either from a personal standpoint or with each other) has always been somewhat secretive. In codes or innuendos like ‘aunt flow’ and ‘time of the month’. We grow up hiding our bodily functions -- which in turn only helps to reinforce those unrealistic ideals of smooth, slim, glowing bodies that don’t fart or poop or sprout hair that encourages the secrecy in the first place.
When my mom first got her period, her mom (my grams) brought sat her down in their living room and -- as if revealing a dark family secret -- drew the blinds to discuss the changes occurring in her body.
Flash forward a generation to when I finally got my period. I grew up in a fairly open household where we were allowed to say the word ‘butt’ instead of tush and ‘poop’ or ‘pee’ instead of number two or tinkle (a practice my childhood neighbor’s mother once put me on time out for). My mom read me books like Everyone Poops and The Care and Keeping of You -- an incredibly informational and honest book from American Girl. Still, though, my period was too taboo for a conversation. I left a little note on my mom’s pillow letting her know that my time had come. On a family trip once, I remember unintentionally free-bleeding in the backseat of our car because I really didn’t want to ask to buy pads (I started quite an impressive collection of toilet paper from gas station bathrooms).
Looking back, I can’t quite connect with the version of myself that was so secretive or ashamed by my period. Same goes for the dark arm hair I used to spend hours bleaching with an at-home Sally Hansen kit. Or the mornings I would wake up super early just so I could straighten my hair. Insecurity is definitely just a part of growing up, and being a living breathing human in general, but I do think sharing those insecurities or hangups -- getting them all out in the open -- helps. There is a part of me that thinks it would be so badass if girls came into school celebrating the underwear they first bled into. There would be pink cupcakes and cherry soda etc. But I know all it really would take is just the one friend to be like, ‘hey wanna hear a crazy story about my vagina’.
With Cheeky, I hope I can be that one friend.