By Puneet Bsanti
Age 15 is when I first got my period. I was young and honestly did not know much about it. My mother, an immigrant from India, never knew how to talk about it with me since it is such a “taboo” subject in her country. My mother would always feel embarrassed to tell my dad we needed to buy more pads or that I was not feeling well due to my cramps. So as you can see, it was difficult to embrace menstruation as a part of my womanhood.
Truth be told, I really hated it. I would have to wear pads and sneak them in with me when I would have to use the restroom during class.
Whenever it was the first day of that special week, I just wanted to be isolated and not go to school. I remember being so young and not even knowing how to handle the blood.
One day during lunch, I leaked so much without knowing it and some kids sitting behind me just laughed.
It was such a horrible moment, and sometimes I still get upset when thinking about it. Periods were the worst to me, not just because of the hassle and pain, but due to the embarrassment and stigma.
Flash forward to 2016 in Greece. I got my period and my roommates asked me if I ever used a tampon. They were shocked I never used one before and so for the whole hour we talked about our periods and the products we use.
Then, I learned how to use a tampon in the hotel room bathroom as they instructed me from the bedroom. After that, I never went back to pads. And maybe after that day, the resentment I had towards periods started to shed.
Going through high school, I really discovered and embraced my own femininity. I ignored the closed-mindedness of my family and became proud of being a woman.
That also meant I had to celebrate being able to menstruate.
It's crazy because before, I could never talk about periods and was embarrassed about it but now I can just tell people about it - even my boyfriend.
I am able to talk about the blessings that are tampons, and I learned to always have Advil on hand. What made things even better? Birth control.
Now, I can be aware of when my period will arrive or even skip it.
I even talk to my coworkers about our periods and we just laugh about the cravings we are getting.
I am proud of myself for embracing my menstruation and I believe that makes me stronger as a woman. I am proud for not giving in to the stigma I was raised on and the belief that you should be embarrassed when you have your period.
Because I am a woman and my reality is that I do menstruate. There is no shame in speaking that truth.