By: Reya Dhandhari
In the recent social media outcry over Rupi Kaur’s Instagram picture of her period leak, I was moved by her courageous and fierce response to the removal of her post. I remember when I had my first period, that I immediately got my mom and showed her what happened to me. I now blurrily remember her showing me what to do (i.e. how-to-use a pad), but I do not recall her explaining what was happening to my body. Needless to say, I figured out about cramps and breakouts on my own, in addition to the stigma of PMSing when both girl and guy friends would ask if “it was my time of the month” because I was being overly “touchy-feely” aka bitchy. Though this is my experience, I know that we all have our own unique experiences of our periods across the board (i.e. crippling pain to none at all). My point here being that a lot of my understanding about my period was and continues to be self taught. I have on more than one occasion had to explain the uses of a tampon to family and friends, explaining the how and where, because they simply did not know how it worked. For some reason in South Asian cultures, talking about our periods is taboo, especially with our male relatives, friends, etc.
I think Miss Kaur’s Instagram post marks the importance of all women to begin embracing their periods. My belief is that South Asian women need to be better prepared for the process of puberty, womanhood and menopause. More importantly, we need to start having more open discussions with one another and our male counterparts about our periods and the experiences of our bodies. The hope is that those around us can understand what is happening to our bodies and not assume that we are just PMSing. Rupi Kaur’s post exposes the forcible concealed nature and what I believe she rightfully calls “strikingly beautiful” process of the female body. I know the feeling and process of having my period is not something that I care to rejoice about, but it is an experience that is unique to me and that I have learned to love about myself.