Shaming Our Womanhood
I was thrilled after coming across this article in the Huffington Post this past week and felt the need to follow up on what I’ve been striving to teach women over the years in order to help them take back their power and improve their relationship with their bodies.
The article spoke about mother of ‘The Bachelor’ candidate Gia Allemand, talking to Dr. Phil about how her “intense pre-menstrual syndrome” contributed to her daughter’s suicide this past August.
I get it. As an on-again, off-again long time PMS sufferer, I’ve had many moments of hopelessness and despair. PMS can make a woman feel like she’s gone bat-shit crazy. Like the world is coming to an end and life itself is a hopeless mound of dirt. But it’s not her- it’s her hormones.
It’s a taboo subject, menstruation, almost as much as depression and sex. No one wants to talk about it, but all women experience it. So why are we so afraid to talk about it?
Educating to Empower
As a nutritionist, I educate and talk to women about the things in life we often don’t want to talk about because it’s too dirty, too scary and we feel far too uncomfortable and ashamed to go there. It started a little over five years ago when I started my work in the alternative health field as a Colon Hydrotherapist.
For those of you who don’t know what colon hydrotherapy is, in short, it’s a natural and gentle way to effectively cleanse and remove waste from the colon (the large intestine). A lot of people thought this was weird and icky and became very uncomfortable when the subject matter of “what do you do for a living” came up in conversation.
Initially I would become awkward and feel uncomfortable in having to answer to “what do I do?”, but then it occurred to me after many responses from this question, that I was taking on the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of the other people. My subject matter of cleansing the colon was too weird and too shameful for people to hear about.
Our Own Shame
I could see them squirm and wiggle in their bodies as I explained how the process worked and why irregular bowel movements and poop backed up in the colon had a negative impact on our health. They shut down, became fidgety, tilted their head down, physically backed up their body, distancing themselves from me and became instantly quiet.
Over the years of coaching and working with nutrition clients one-on-one I have seen this exact same reaction when it comes to talking to women about their menstrual cycle. Their bodies become tense and locked up, their breathing becomes shallow and they get quiet and small, hoping I will shut the conversation down and change the subject matter.
I Just Keep Yapping
But I don’t, I just keep talking. And I do this not to be annoying but because I feel it to be necessary. I truly believe that we must bridge this gap and by talking about the “awkward” and “uncomfortable” icky subject matters like poop and periods so we can actually help not only educate people about their bodies, but more importantly to empower them to take action to prevent disease and illness associated with these areas of the body.
Breast cancer, colon cancer, PMS, IBS– these are some of the most common conditions that are plaguing millions of women across North America. Unfortunately it is also these topics that we’re most afraid to talk about for fear of sounding yucky, gross and turning heads in shock.
I also keep talking to help people understand that they don’t have to be ashamed and feel bad about these health matters they are experiencing. PMS in particular leaves many women feeling helpless, hopeless and shameful to be a woman. We often feel that we need to keep quiet and suffer through that part of the month.
People Pleasers & Peace Makers
As women, so many of us are peace makers, people pleasers and put everyone else first before our own needs- even when we are in pain and keeled over in the fetal position trying to avoid the pain of our bleeding uterus. We don’t want to complain and have others feel sorry for us and continue on like good little warrior women so that others won’t think we’re weak.
We see this in the workplace, where women are competing with and constantly trying to prove their rank and value to their male counterparts, especially in the corporate world. We see this at home, with mothers and wives trying to take care of their families, putting everyone else first. And we see this in relationships, where women want to ensure they don’t upset their partner and keep them from running away at “that time of the month”.
It’s exhausting and unnecessary. And yet, I’m guilty too. Years of suppressing that female part of myself has taken time to overcome and view as a positive, rather something to be ashamed of. And it’s something I’m still working hard at today. It’s something we can heal only once we’ve become aware of it.
Depression and anxiety can also be a part of the pre-menstruation for process for many women. This is something we often feel the need to keep quiet about for fear of being seen as crazy, “over-reacting” or that we’ve totally lost our marbles.
But the reality is that there are hormonal and chemical changes occurring in the body that can cause the brain to feel blue and become depressed mildly or even severely the days (and for some women, even weeks) leading up to a period. It’s not our fault. We have very little control over this.
We’ve been conditioned as women in this society to stuff our feelings and pain down and not talk about “that time of the month”. Periods, yuck. Don’t talk about the mess, the pain or the dark feelings that can come with it, for those who suffer from PMS.
Instead, we flower the subject matter with pretty pink tampon commercials with women dancing freely and having a “good time” during their period and saying things like “Have a happy period.” Yes, right, only talk about the happy times. Nobody wants to hear about the bad ones.
I know very few women who have a “happy period” and more importantly, who are willing to see their period as a good thing. But the reality is, like poop, periods are natural. Our menstrual cycle is one of our most natural earthly connections that ties us to Mother Nature and the earth itself.
An Opportunity for Releasing the Old
Our periods are an opportunity for rebirth and renewal. It allows our bodies to cleanse out the old and release any weighted baggage both physically and emotionally from the past month. It’s a chance to connect with our inner feelings and emotions and see what’s really going on with us at a deeper level. It’s an opportunity to honour our womanhood and celebrate in part what makes us the beautiful female beings that we are.
Our period and all that occurs around it, is nothing to be ashamed of and we sure as heck don’t need to tip toe around the subject matter. But we do, and will continue to do so until we educate women all they need to know about their bodies and the power of their cycle.
Building Self-Esteem & Confidence
By not talking about our periods, we teach young women to become shameful about that part of the body and for some, hurting our self-esteem because we see having a period and anything associated with this it as a bad thing.
Yes, periods can be painful and sure, they can bring up a lot of negative emotions we don’t want to feel or let other knows we are feeling. But it’s time to start talking about all the yuck and muck that many of us want to avoid. Education leads to empowerment. And if we empower women to understand the hows and whys of their monthly cycle we could start to put to rest that shame that comes with this part of being a woman.
It is my hope as an optimistic spirit junkie that carrying on my own healing journey and continuing to learn how to love my own body, especially the parts and organs that I may have shamed in the past, that I will empower other women to do the same.
If you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to manage your PMS naturally email me for a free 15-minute consultation to see how I can help and if we’re a right fit for one another.