The school girl clutches her stomach and groans, trying to ignore the sharp and incessant jolts of pain coursing through her body. Standing up with a grunt, she internally curses when she feels a gush of liquid between her thighs. Urgh. It’s THAT time of the month, also known as the torturous week of hell, when she has to refrain from exercising and instead resorts to inhaling chocolate for a bit of comfort.
Fast-forward a few years, the same girl is undeterred by her period. She still goes on hikes, attends her usual muay thai classes and socializes with friends. In fact, she feels exceptionally awesome, since she is no longer bothered by the stickiness of used pads and irritating chemicals that cause discomfort. The nifty contraption that completely changed her experience is none other than her trusty pink menstrual cup. Menstruation is no longer something that she associates with shame and disgust – rather, it is something that she champions.
Growing up in Hong Kong, information about menstrual health was pretty much non-existent. I vaguely recall having a “talk” about period care in my primary school years, but all I received was a pack of pads. There was neither mentioning of other period care products, nor the acknowledgement that everybody’s experience is unique. A callous generalization of menstruation was apparent.
It wasn’t until I became more involved and passionate about sustainability that I started looking into the waste and pollution to the environment caused by certain period products. For starters, I discovered how conventional manufacturers use dioxin to bleach their cotton for pads and tampons, which could cause irritation and even lead to an increased risk of cancer. I was appalled that this was never even brought up in school, even though I went to an all-girls school.
Taking a leap of faith (and because I was entirely fed up with being uncomfortable whilst on my period), I bought my menstrual cup. It was not an understatement to describe my experience as magical. Albeit there was a learning curve, as with all things, the sense of empowerment was surreal. There is just something about taking care of your most private parts and actually seeing your own period blood – a testament to your health and fertility, that makes you feel like you have the ability to take on the entire world.
The salience of education is incontrovertible in our quest to ameliorate the status quo. Without learning about the structure of our vaginas, or the huge difference that using better period care products can make, none of this would have been possible. This is primarily why I think we need learning resources like the one that LUÜNA provides on their website, especially since school curriculums are less flexible in changing in the near future. Knowledge is power!
Truth be told, it is infuriating that menstruation is still a taboo and many people shy away from discussing it in public. It is this kind of shame circulating in our culture that prevents woman from liberating themselves and feeling kick-ass awesome on their periods. It is therefore my honor to participate in The Vagina Dialogues to prompt conversations on the very thing that we should all celebrate and be proud of as woman!