On average, most women experience shark week once a month…

Shhhhh… we don’t want to talk too loudly, what we have to say is something that should be kept to ourselves…

Because its gross.

Its icky.

Its private.

Its not our typical conversation.

But here is the thing, I’ve been having this conversation lately and I’ve noticed that we all have a story to tell about the first time that we experienced this. And the more we talk about it, the more normalized it becomes, and the stigma lessens…

So what am I talking about?

Well… menstruation.

I used to peak around the corners of the feminine products aisle at the store, checking to see if there was anyone in the aisle – I recognize that if they were they were likely looking for the same thing as me but it didn’t matter, I didn’t want to be seen – those who saw me might think I was on my period – gasp. As I’d approach the cashier I would pray for a female, preferably an older one, a motherly type if possible. One that would take pity on this cycle of womanhood we all go through.

Half of the world population will at some point, if not for the majority of your teenage and adult years, have a period. While there are some exceptions most women of child bearing years bleed once a month.

As a teenager we had names, like Aunt Flow, shark week, surfing the crimson wave, among others to keep it on the down low what was happening down there. It’s not like we would have sleepovers and pillow fights talking about cramps and flow… at least I never attended any parties like that – was I missing something?

I’m not suggesting we should be shouting from the rafters when it is that time of the month. However, the lack of conversation can lead to a lot of confusion for young women just embarking on this journey. And the more conversation that we have the more likely a girl is going to feel confident that she can walk into that tampon aisle, pick up a pack of supers and carry on with her day regardless of who is around and who is at the cashier.

In fact, it has been refreshing lately to hear of the Chinese swimmer who discussed the fact that she was on her period during the Olympic games, or when Amy Schumer announced that in addition to Vivienne Westwood and Tom Ford she was also wearing O.B. They are breaking the barriers to this conversation that is often considered taboo, although it is a part of life for half the population.

I was lucky. I don’t remember exactly how I knew what a period was, I think the first time I heard the word was from Rudy on a classic episode of a show we no longer mention. Then there were sex ed classes and likely a conversation with my mother that I’ve blocked out. When the fateful day presented itself I was one of the first girls in my class, at least that I knew of, and so I made it through the first day and then asked my mom if we could talk as everyone was going to bed that night. It wasn’t a long talk. Mostly, “Do you understand? Do you have any questions? Do you need supplies?” Followed with the question every month of whether “supplies” were needed.

But not everyone has this experience.

I have been doing a lot of research lately on the content that is available to our youth, and have been discussing female health matters during interviews with a number of women. And the experiences are all different. I spoke with one young woman who got her period quite young, no one had explained it to her before, and she thought she was dying.

In a conversation with another was the story of the girl who also thought she was dying and actually walked to the doctor’s office and told him so. This might seem like a funny little anecdote to some, but imagine the shame and embarrassment a young girl might feel at this highly emotional and hormone charged, not to mention potentially painful time.

There are countries where there is such shame regarding periods that young girls miss school or are banished to live in cowsheds or even believe that menstruation is a disease. And so here I am, not only talking about it, but writing about it. This isn’t about that time that your flow crossed the threshold of your underwear and seeped into your pants, leaving a stain, but of girls who are shamed every month for experiencing what is one of the most natural things on earth.

So how do we change this? We need to start by not only changing the conversation, but starting the conversation. There are so many things that we should be talking about, this should be one of the least taboo topics out there. Let’s make this conversation easy, so we can start to delve into the conversations that are really difficult.

I won’t lie that the idea of pressing publish on this post has me a little nervous, there is still a part of me that is that woman who would check the tampon aisle before venturing down it, getting a double bag to hide what I bought. Somehow I’ve overcome that stigma. It could be the incredible work that women are doing to make this conversation less stigmatized, it could be that there are better options today than there were years ago. It could be that I finally understand that a period is a natural part of my body that allows me to understand my health.

Over time, you’ll get to know your flow, you’ll get to understand what works best for you. But at no time should there be shame, at no time should we feel the need to peak around corners or pray for the motherly drug store cashier. I’m not prepared to shout it from the rooftops when shark week visits, but I am prepared to engage in the conversation and help reduce the stigma.

Are you with me?



These days there are options for women when it comes to dealing with their Aunt, or friend, or crimson wave. Wings, applicator-less, cups, period underwear. My favourite option of the moment is period underwear. I was never a big fan of pads and tampons so these comfortable, super effective, and cute underwear work for me. There is less waste every month going into the landfill, and best of all the brand I like, Thinx, gives back – they provide reusable pads to women in developing countries that struggle to have access to those “supplies”, and they work to normalize the conversation around that time of the month. Many people don’t even realize this option exists, or thinks it might be icky. I am in no way affiliated with Thinx, I just really like them, you gotta find what you like. 


10 Replies to “On average, most women experience shark week once a month…”

  1. Roxanne Gulick says: Reply

    I love that you published this. I have become a bit passionate about this very topic as I have three girls, two who have started their period. Number three daughter, I would imagine will be starting hers soon. My oldest could care less, she’s quite open about having her period, or wanting to be on it when going on a holiday, etc. The other daughter is becoming less self conscious, thankfully. I agree, half the population will have a period for 30+ years of their life. It is a bodily function that we have no reason to. E ashamed of. In fact, some cultures celebrate young women when they start their period. It’s time our culture made a change. Thanks for being a voice for that.

    1. Thanks Roxanne! This is so great to hear. Sometimes I think the younger generation is so much further ahead than us, and mostly it is because of great parents like you that are willing to have these sometimes uncomfortable conversations.

  2. Thanks for this! Brings back memories…my mom insisting I say “menstruation” and not period (wtf really? Seemed feminist related at the time). I also got my period early and didn’t know much..although I knew of the concept thanks to Judy blume.
    My first time? I put the adhesive pad on upside down. It seemed to make sense to me at the time (doh!) Never did that again..

    1. Oh my god the upside down pad. That sounds like a painful way to learn a lesson! Thanks for sharing Caroline

  3. Ahh…I was one of the lucky ones too! My mum grew up in Cuba and her mother never talked about any taboo subjects, so she told me about how, when she first got her period, she thought she was dying. The fear, and then embarrassment and then shame she reported made me grateful she raised me differently. She talked about all those taboo subjects from the start in kind, caring appropriate ways, so I understood. Good thing too as I was one of the youngest and first to get my period. Speaking of, why is it called “period” sounds like a rigid term. I guess it is the end of one phase of life and beginning of another. I used to think why didn’t God make it that we only got our periods when we wanted to have children…not every month. Would be more cost effective and easier on us…oh well. I applaud you for starting and keeping conversations like this going. The world changes as we share and unmasked the taboos. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for sharing Jul’s. I’m so glad that you had a positive experience. I agree, we must keep having conversations in order to unmask the taboo!

  4. Amen, Sister!! You are so right! Like you, I was that sneaking-down-the-aisle woman. I felt the same way. I am fortunate to have married a man who not only buys all my feminine hygiene products, but makes sure my daughter and I are very comfortable discussing the woes of this monthly visit around him. It has definitely impacted my daughter’s experience around it, which is precisely what having open conversation does on any topic. Thank you for raising your voice and encouraging the rest of us to do the same!!

  5. I could so relate to this Christy! I can remember hoping for that older female cashier too! The period underwear is such a fabulous idea. Thanks for starting the conversation so this very natural part of being a woman is less taboo

  6. I can so relate to this as well! During my first few years, I peeked into the feminine products aisle making sure no guys there so I could take the products out. I could go to the female cashier only asking a black plastic bag for pads and tampons. Luckily my parents are very supportive and they are open to discuss this topic, and it makes me more confident and comfortable to face once-a-month shark week. I no longer need to play seek and hide a the store, I just walk in, get my products, pay and leave. Thanks for encouraging the conversation and encourage women to be confident during menstruation.

  7. Such a great post.. and as someone who loves to travel, I am always wondering what the judgement is when I do not come prepared for shark week in a new country!

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