I remember when I got my first period. I had just got finished bragging to my best friend about how I hadn’t gotten it yet. Three days later, I innocently went to go to the bathroom and it was like a crime scene had exploded in my underwear. My ovaries decided it was high time for a meet and greet, puberty edition. I pulled my underwear up (and died inside a little bit), went to my Mom, and whispered more quietly than I had ever done at a funeral, “I got my p-e-r-i-o-d. I need p-a-d-s.” Yes, I whispered and spelled like I was talking about a secret in front of a two year old.
Fast forward to five days of what will be quite a large chunk of the rest of my life, my period ended. But...I was still wearing pads. It took about two weeks before my Mom pulled me aside and asked me why I was wearing pads when I wasn’t on my period. She patiently explained that I had to count twenty-eight days from the last day of my period, then I start wearing pads again. I was ecstatic! I had been liberated! I could walk around a free woman! But I was still nervous, so I didn’t wear white pants for the entire time I was in high-school (and if we’re being honest, I still don’t).
While 13 year-old Cassia knew her period was a normal thing, I know that many other girls think something is seriously wrong when they first get their period. I know young women who got cramps for the first time and thought they were inches away from certain death. As someone with severe cramps, it’s not that hard to see why they would think that. Educating our young black girls on what a period is, why and how it happens, and what to do to make your Red Sea the easiest sea you’ll ever have to cross is crucial.
Everyone experiences periods differently, too. Twenty-eight days wasn’t a schedule my body followed when I first got my period, so I only had a vague clue as to when my ovaries would express their disapproval of my precious unused egg. Some women don’t get cramps, some only get mild cramps, or some, like me, have such severe cramps that it can them out for an entire day. Some periods only last two days, some last a full seven days. It varies from woman to woman. Proper education on what’s going with your body makes experiences a lot less scary. That education includes making sure that our girls know that their period isn’t taboo or shameful.
All in all, the female human body is pretty interesting. If time is an oven, we’re kind of like cake! We go through some incredible bodily changes as we grow older and it’s important that we understand what’s incredible. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions and understand what’s going on beneath the surface.
Women of the African Diaspora writing for the empowerment of the next generation.