The following post is a part of the #BleedingLove photo series—a campaign which aims to break the stigma around periods in the South Asian community and around the world. We came together to raise awareness about the struggles women face in regards to menstrual health in the hopes of promoting menstrual equity and in turn, gender equality.
Growing up as an only child in a Bengali-Muslim household I was taught to keep my period hush-hush, and never to speak about it to anyone or even to mention it out loud. I got my period and started developing breasts at the tender age of eight—before all of the other girls in my class. I was treated like a miscreant amongst my South Asian peers and elders didn’t seem to understand that some girls naturally develop quicker, instead, they somehow saw me as a deviant child.
[Read Related: #BleedingLove: ‘I Thought I was Being Punished for Being a Woman’]
It led to tons of misconceptions about my body and what was really happening inside. I felt embarrassed and dirty for having my period when entering a mosque or religious setting. During Ramadan, I would fake fast even if on my period in order to avoid being questioned, judged, or looked at like an alien by extended family members. While I believe God intended to give us a break during our periods as it’s physically draining, I think society interpreted scripture as women are impure and we can’t perform basic tasks due to the impurity (aka our menstrual cycle), which is untrue and unfair!
Now that I am much older, I am starting to feel empowered when juggling life’s challenges on my period— it proves how miraculously resilient women really are.
We need to educate those around us and be properly educated about menstruation from a young age. Our community needs to stop creeping around the topic or waiting until it’s explained to us in school. We need to teach our sons about menstruation just like our daughters. Our sons should stop referring to a menstruating female as “crazy” or “hormonal” or that they should be avoided—rather nurture them during a time when their bodies are purging and renewing. As for our daughters, we need to teach them that they can achieve anything they set their hearts on and that our period isn’t a limitation.
In 2018, where modern conveniences such as free WiFi in a public place are prioritized, why are tampons and pads still considered a luxury item? Globally tampons and pads should be just as accessible as toilet paper and clean water. Girls and women in other countries should have access to these basic necessities so they are able to work and go to school without being outcasted. If we worked to banish stigma around menstruation and treated it like any other bodily function, I doubt girls would continue growing up feeling punished and dirty.
[Read Related: #BleedingLove: The Bloody Truth About Periods]
A biological function that allows us to create life shouldn’t be considered a weakness in the workplace or be held against us — it’s a superpower. Hell, I think periods should be celebrated! We feel so horrible for that week every month, instead of having people around us treat us like we’re monsters…how about we start being treated like the real queens we are.
Thank you to our partners who made this photo series a possibility.
Photographer: Farhat Sikder | Styling & Wardrobe: Nikita Dodani | Hair & Makeup: Jasmin Rahman and Samina Ahmad