I watched the new Bodyform advert yesterday, I’d seen a
couple of people rave about it so was interested (even though I have a dislike
of bodyform – and the advert song from yonks ago has just started in my head)
It was lauded as them debunking taboos around periods and miscarriage.
I have to say I wasn’t too impressed and I couldn’t put my finger on why. It just left me feeling kinda meh, to quote a modern word.
I asked on Facebook and a couple of my friends agreed there was something missing and that it focused too much on the negative. What was there, the woman sweating and rolling on the floor of the bathroom, oh we’ve all been there, such a focus on the early days of my periods was the pain, nothing like it.
My main takes from it were that :
Women are always surprised by the appearance of their periods
They are either desperate for them not to come or for them to arrive (unwanted pregnancy)
They are painful and messy
Women have no control over their bodies.
The problem with showing women as having no control over their bodies is that we are never taken seriously. I read a post yesterday saying a perimenopausal woman has been bleeding non stop for 6 months and her doctor has just shrugged it off as being part of perimenopause, just one of those things, nothing to worry about.
There is still a lack of women in clinical trials which has started being addressed since the 1990’s. The reason for them not to be included historically is “They also viewed women as confounding and more expensive test subjects because of their fluctuating hormone levels. (1)
For me something that wasn’t shown was women getting back in touch with their periods, to debunk taboos, for me, has been more about not seeing them as ‘the curse’ the painful thing, the irritating at best incapacitating at worst.
That periods aren’t just a 5 day bleed in the middle of the week but are part of a cycle that can be tracked and understood. I found out late in life that our menstrual cycle can be seen as seasons, the spring of follicular phase with rising energy, Summer of ovulation with feelings of confidence and productivity, the autumn of the luteal phase with the rise of oestogean and progesterone and either a pregnancy starts or the fall of these hormones ready for the bleed.
The bleed is the Winter. This is a state of inner reflection, the need for rest a break from daily life. Which we don’t often get and having to battle through normal daily activities can make this time seem hardwork, horrible and indeed, The Curse.
We certainly have to work hard to get that rest and downtime – I remember reading about Red Tents and thinking what luxury, to be able to spend those 5 days being looked after and allowed to rest, changes the whole aspect of periods form ‘soldiering on’ to being greatly nurtured, looked after, being given warming nutritious foods, allowed to take time out from life. Wouldn’t be such a bad thing then, hey?
By seeing period pain as normal, one of those things as something to be medicated and ignored, that poor woman writhing on the bathroom floor in the advert, we are missing so much – what is happening, why is she in pain? What is her body trying to tell her apart from stop and rest? Is it a physical, emotional or spiritual issue? How to address it? Personally, my pain has stopped with learning to release tight muscles, of allowing myself to have some downtime, learning how to create ways t have downtime within a busy, fast paced society.
If we just ignore pain as being nothing more than the norm we have a risk of not addressing potential fertility issues, birthing issues or something very serious. Just masking it with drugs is not acceptable.
How about in pregnancy? If women were taught and trusted with knowing their bodies, there would be no need of a scan for estimated due dates – how often are women ignored when they say they know when they conceived and have worked out their due date? Ignoring the woman and going by a machine and ‘averages’ can leave women and their babies at risk of unnecessary interventions.
Looking back at
that time in school when the girls went off ‘for the talk’ and came out with a
bag containing a hospital grade pad that resembled a small mattress and what
else/ I can’t remember I can’t even recall what we were told in that talk. I
know it wasn’t fun, it left us all feeling pretty shitty about ourselves.
What if taboos were really broken and all girls were taught about tracking their cycle, learning their bodies own unique ways, trusting their instincts when it came to pain and discomfort (not just medicate and ignore). What if they were taught the seasons of their cycle so they understood the moods, the energies the cravings. What if they were taught about the importance of rest and nutrition.
Then we’d really break
(There are groups, places, women that are doing this! – I’ve put a few links below) It’s just not the norm and here’s to working on getting the word out more)