Period Shaming: What it is and how to stop it

You may not know it Being inconsiderate about the period pain can be hurtful.

In Summary

• Period pain caused by cramps can be very severe for some women.

• Being inconsiderate or not believing that the pain is that much can be hurtful.

Sanitary pads sprinkled with red glitter powder.
Sanitary pads sprinkled with red glitter powder.

Since time immemorial, women and girls have been made to feel that menstruation is taboo.

This has led many people, including women themselves, to shame other women while on their periods.

So period shaming is basically making women or girls feel ashamed or embarrassed because of the natural biological function of bleeding.

In 2019, 14-year-old Jackeline Chepng’eno took her own life after allegedly being period shamed by her teacher.

It may not be obvious, but some things we do or say can be considered period shaming.

For example:

1. Ridiculing a girl or woman with a period stain.

Back in primary school, boys used to laugh at girls when they stained their school uniforms.

But as boys grew older, they understood it is natural was a natural occurrence.

However, showing contempt for something that happened accidentally is not okay because pads leak when they are full, and sometimes, you may not find a decent place to change it.

The best thing you can do is alert the lady so they can find a way to secure their dignity.

2. Feeling ashamed of period products.

Boys also used to laugh when a sanitary pad fell from a girl’s bag or pocket while she was trying to hide it.

Even buying sanitary products can be shameful as some shopkeepers or attendants may feel embarrassed selling the products to you.

I have had a shopkeeper wrap a sanitary pad I bought in three layers of newspapers.

“Just in case it falls, nobody will know what is inside,” he had told me.

That makes it feel like what I am experiencing is not normal. Do not be ashamed of these products.

3. Not thinking period pain is severe.

Period pain caused by cramps can be very severe for some women. It is referred to as dysmenorrhea.

Being inconsiderate about the period pain can be hurtful.

4. Using coded words when referring to a period.UN Women says that women and girls globally use code words such as Aunty Flo, Bloody Mary, Code Red, Lady Business, Girl Flu, or the Curse to talk about periods covertly.

This is because of the discrimination when one is menstruating.

Calling it by its name is the best thing to do, period.

5. Assuming angry women are on their period.

When you assume that a woman is ‘PMSing’ because she is angry is period shaming.

Also, assuming that when someone is emotional, they are definitely on their period is not the best thing unless they explicitly tell you so.

Remember, periods are absolutely normal.