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Period Shaming Wounds Our Society
Period Shaming Wounds Our Society And Here's How
A Kenyan girl was sitting in her class having a regular school day, then to her surprise, she had her first period. She was caught off guard and was not prepared at all. Her teacher noticed that, and the teacher shamed her because she bled through her uniform. She felt so ashamed and embarrassed that it led her to kill herself after that shaming (Hervey).
The majority of females between the ages of 10 and 55 across the nation have to go through the same struggles each month: periods. It’s a common bodily function that goes on during the process of menstruation. Most people aren’t aware when someone is on their period, and that is partly due to period shaming. Period shaming is when someone uses the fact that women are menstruating to ridicule them. It could be just backhanded comments over periods or it could be someone saying something degrading about that person or periods as a whole. Period shaming affects females mentally and physically.
Women are going through enough with menstruation, and on top of that, the mental effect of period shaming. A poll that involved 1,500 women from across the nation found that 58 percent of women have felt a sense of embarrassment only because they were on their period (Siebert). So our society has already been shifted to the perspective that women should in fact be embarrassed because of a process that is natural and unavoidable. There are many misconceptions about menstruation. For example, there is a myth out there that period blood is dirty blood which isn’t true (Weatherspoon). There is a lot of stigma over periods such as associating them with dirt and believing that anything that comes out of women is disgusting (Willis). A mentality of being embarrassed about menstruation leads to self-consciousness and negative thoughts. These negative thoughts can make women feel more sad, anxious, angry, tired, teary, and absentminded (Nwadike). Many women decided to tell their story of how they’ve been period shamed before, and they told their stories like “A male boss once yelled at me for ‘looking depressed’ at work because I had cramps,” and “They gave me what you would call ‘a talking-to’ as if my bodily functions were something to be ashamed for,” so this really proves how period shaming gives off negative feelings.
This mentality leading to negative thoughts has been shown to progress into a depressive state. A medical doctor, Laura Hirsch states in an article that PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can include feelings of extreme depression (Hirsch). That shows that menstruation itself can lead to severe depression. So women who are already self-conscious about their periods and have feelings of extreme depression due to PMS are affected greatly by period shaming.
Extreme depression and negative emotions due to PMS that are intensified can be resolved. If we continue to bring more light to the issue of period shaming, we can educate our community about the topic of menstruation, especially how it affects females emotionally. Periods have been shown to be a ‘roller coaster of emotions’ like causing uncontrollable mood swings in some women (Sheehan). As a society need to start addressing how periods affect women emotionally and physically more in schools and the workplace. We could put up posters giving a brief description of PMS and what period shaming looks like so our community can resolve it. When we discuss period shaming it can resolve it and have a very positive impact on us all.
Hervey, G. (2019). Kenyan schoolgirl, 14, kills herself after alleged period shaming by teacher. [online] The Guardian. Available at: theguardian.com/global-development/2019/sep/13/kenyan-schoolgirl-14-kills-herself-after-alleged-period-shaming-by-teacher [Accessed 7 Oct. 2019].
Hirsch, L. (2019). Why Do I Feel Depressed When I Have My Period? (for Teens) - KidsHealth. [online]
Kidshealth.org. Available at: kidshealth.org/en/teens/period-blues.html [Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].
Nwadike, V. (2018). PMS Depression: Why It Happens, Treatments, and Finding Support. [online] Healthline. Available at: healthline.com/health/pms-depression [Accessed 7 Oct. 2019].
Sheehan, J. (2010). Mood Swings: PMS and Your Emotional Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: everydayhealth.com/pms/mood-swings.aspx [Accessed 1 Oct. 2019].
Siebert, V. (2018). Nearly half of women have experienced ‘period shaming’. [online] Nypost.com. Available at: nypost.com/2018/01/03/nearly-half-of-women-have-experienced-period-shaming/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2019].
Weatherspoon, D. (2019). 8 Period Myths We Need to Set Straight. [online] Healthline. Available at: healthline.com/health/womens-health/period-myths#1 [Accessed 30 Sep. 2019].
Willis, O. (2017). Breaking the menstrual taboo that still holds women back. [online] ABC News. Available at: abc.net.au/news/health/2017-09-30/menstrual-cycle-taboo-holds-women-back/8996526 [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019].