From Frugivore — After receiving a picture message from my mother of soiled bloody underwear that a friend of my 15-year-old sister left behind after a sleep over I couldn’t help but to think, what are we teaching our young girls about hygiene and their bodies. The young lady that left her undergarments behind is being raised by her father, but that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t have been taught that when in need of sanitary napkins, it’s okay to ask.
I remember when I first had my menstrual cycle at the age of 12. I was more than prepared because my mother had already provided me with books on the female body. In addition to those books she also thoroughly explained to me what having a menstrual cycle was all about.
I’m assuming that either nobody had that conversation with that young lady, or either she was just too embarrassed to ask for sanitary napkins or tampons. If the issue was the latter, it makes it even more interesting being that she was at a sleep over with several young girls. When I was young, my friends and I had no qualms about discussing our menstrual cycles and newly evolving bodies. I don’t know if it was because we were born in the 80s and it was just a different time or the fact that our mothers were just very open.
In American society menstrual cycles are somewhat stigmatized. A lot of adult women grew up being told never to wear white while on their period and many have heard of the infamous story of the girl with the blood stain on the back of her pants that everyone in class laughs at. Let’s not forget the popular scene from the 1976 movie Carrie, where the title character had her first period in her school’s gym shower. That was followed by her fellow female classmates throwing tampons and sanitary napkins at her. Afterward, the gym teacher tried to console Carrie by explaining menstruation to her because her mother hadn’t done so. I also cannot count how many times I’ve purchased feminine products and a cashier unnecessarily double bagged them as if one of the most natural things in the world needed to be hidden.