(by Boity Thulo: South African television personality, rapper, actress, businesswoman and model)

Every woman has a story to share about their menstrual experiences. I, for one, can tell you that I grew up being ashamed of having to go buy my own sanitary products…

If I had the option to send someone else to do that for me, I would not even flinch. When I reflect back to those days, I am a little shocked and embarrassed that what is so natural to growing up, made me so uncomfortable.

Imagine a world where you can’t share any of your experiences

A world where the deafening silence in society makes you feel uncomfortable for naturally being you. This has been the present reality for many of South Africa’s young women. We are not empowered to talk openly about how our menstrual cycles are not just easily defined as “that time of the month”, as if it’s a routine we signed up for – like going to the gym.

Oh no! It’s definitely not that and we are here to change the tune and talk openly because, as women our bodies undergo many changes in a 28-day cycle. Imagine, we can’t go a full 30-days without menstruating, unless pregnant.

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As I have mentioned, I was ashamed of buying my own sanitary products, but to add onto that, I was afraid to call it what it is, “menstruation,” because the word menstruation sounded heavy and shameful. It forced reality onto me that I am now blossoming into a “woman”, and I needed to do more to take care of myself, and shift my focus to my femininity. In hindsight, I would have benefited from knowing that even though periods are a defining moment in any girl’s development, they are in no way limiting to what we can achieve as a women.

Advocacy begins with us

This brings me to the point that advocacy on menstruation and women’s health really begins with us, as women. Before going out to fight what others have to say, we should be comfortable, surefooted, and knowledgeable in our own shared experiences. We shouldn’t wait for corporations, the media or others to share our narrative.

Your story holds more value in ensuring a step change in how things are currently. Your experience shared with others, is helping another girl normalise her own experience. We shouldn’t limit ourselves because of what others might say, we should use our voices to influence change.

To see the change we want, we don’t have to create imagined experiences

By us uniting, sharing and talking openly we can drive our common goal in breaking negative perceptions around menstruation through platforms such as social media. Remaining silent on such important topics causes shame and stigma. So, do not be ashamed to say you are on your menstrual cycle to those around you, because your truth will empower you. Once you are empowered, you are able to confidently advocate for further change.

Ladies, make it your mission today to practise self-love because, when you love yourself, you will care for yourself holistically. Caring for self means educating yourself further on menstruation and women’s health. This is important because not all of us go through the same symptoms during our menstrual cycles.

Common symptoms experienced by women

Common symptoms are things such as bloatedness, food cravings, abdominal pains, tender and fuller breasts, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – all caused by hormonal changes. Some women experience more severe symptoms which may include migraines, vomiting, excruciating pains that can also have underlying issues like dysmenorrhea or endometriosis.

The list goes on, and it’s important to take your health seriously. It’s important to impart your knowledge as well because, not everyone is privy to, or has access to proper health information. But the light of knowledge you pass on, will help someone in future.

 I hope that after reading this, you are inspired to make a difference in this world

Join in the movement and conversation by sharing your experiences and your views with myself and Kotex®. Follow Kote® social change campaign on social media with the hashtag #changethetune on Kotex® social media pages to participate.

I am happy today, that I am comfortable to buy my own sanitary products, and that I can share information or even talk about menstruation. It’s not a shame, but my call to duty to make every woman realise that she is phenomenal and our experiences need to be heard because there is power in that sisterhood.

 

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.