Taboos of Menstruation and Puberty

“Lying next to a real person who was really ministran’ was somehow sacred.” -The Bluest Eye (pg 32). The scene of Pecola’s first period felt very relatable, though I think it’s one of the few times I’ve actually read about menstruation in literature. The girls both feel like this is something to keep quiet and hidden, but also something to admire. I distinctly remember feeling proud when I got my period before all my friends, but also like it was something I needed to keep quiet and “deal with” on my own. In her essay “Innocence”, Marah Guar writes “books and films for and about adolescents often suggest that the advent of mature sexuality makes you a monster.” (pg 126). She argues that focus on innocence of childhood and corruption of adulthood “mystifies the actual conditions [children] live in.”

I received my first pair of Thinx from my brother’s girlfriend as a Christmas present, which prompted the first conversation I’ve ever had with my brothers or my dad about periods, seven years after I got my first period. The company makes an effort not only to sell a well-made, functional product, but also to change the global cultural norms surrounding menstruation and menstruating people. Unlike mainstream period products, they make an effort to normalize periods (none of that weird blue liquid in commercials) through honest ads and a great blog. While their products are on the pricey side, the company opens up a conversation about periods and what menstruating people deserve as fair as quality period products. I’ve definitely had way more conversations about periods (with menstruating and non-menstruating people) since I watched this video and tried the product.

5 thoughts on “Taboos of Menstruation and Puberty”

  1. I too never really reflected on the fact that menstruation in young women was never addressed in literature until I read “The Bluest Eye.” It is so interesting to think about the fact that something that occurs through nature is such a taboo and I even began to reflect on the fact that I never really speak about it unless I am with my closest friends. I think that a great way to dismantle gender differences would be by making things such as menstruation and tampons less of a taboo and more of an everyday conversation about something that women have no control over, because they don’t.

  2. This post sparked a debate in my mind as to why periods have become so rarely talked about. As a woman, I have been told that periods are gross and it has caused me to feel ashamed by having what is simply a normal reproductive system. This video also made me appreciate the feminine products that were sometimes freely given to me, because most women do not have this commodity. I hope that one day periods will not be taboo and women have free access to products that allow them to be comfortable and achieve higher standards.

  3. Connecting to the idea of gender and sex it is so saddening that girls in underdeveloped countries are faces with these issues just based of their biological sex. It is completely out of their control and happens to every girl yet still have to face challenges and embarrassment because of it. Something that males do not have to experience simply because of their reproductive structure. That is so saddening. It’s so awesome to see strides like this being taken to give those girls a chance to save their embarrassment and carry on with daily life.
    Just the other week I saw a drive being held. However, this wasn’t a normal “pantry drive” or nonperishable food items being collected, but rather feminine hygiene products for those in need in the Madison area.
    Periods are a natural thing, and I agree the taboo needs to be broken and more support needs to be shown for all women to deal with this issue.

  4. Seeing the shame that the normal process of menstruating inflicts upon women in other countries is quite frustrating in the sense that it is a normal, biological process that is necessary for human life to even exist. Because of the association of menstruation and the loss of innocence, a weird taboo has surrounded this topic for decades, as stated above. I believe that literature such as “The Bluest Eye”, and companies such as Thinx, are changing that poorly-thought-out stigma surrounding women and their periods. I can only hope that society will become more progressive and open-minded in the sense that talking about menstruation can be the norm. This was such a cool video and interesting company that will hopefully take hold in the upcoming years!

  5. I probably have enough embarrassing period stories to write a novel, but it did take me a long time to overcome the shame. I had no idea that this all stemmed from historical and religious “taboos”. It makes me sad that a biological feature of our bodies is something that is not considered normal and accepted. People think of it has something disgusting. I love this video this brand, if it even takes away the shame from one preteen girl embarrassed from getting her period or having an accident it has served its purpose. If we can’t even talk about periods (a natural bodily function that is part of the reason we are all here) how can we talk about public and global sexual health? This is just the root of a bigger problem in society.

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