I was 16, and I still did not have my period. I mean like really, I had watched each and every one of my girlfriends get their periods (not literally), some as early as 9, and here I was, old enough to drive a car yet not old enough to have a valid excuse to sit out of swim class.
I had, what my doctor told me,delayed growth, which meant I was about three years behind in the whole “developing” department. This included everything from my height—I was under 5 feet for most of high school—to my boobs—you guessed it, totally flat—to body hair and yes, my period. I knew I should have felt lucky. The longer you can put off bleeding out of your vagina for several days every month, the better. But I didn’t feel lucky, I just felt different. I wanted to complain about pads and tampons and cramps like everyone else. I wanted to share horror stories of the time I got my period on a date or something . I wanted an excuse to sit out of gym class.
And then one day in my junior year of high school, I woke up in the middle of the night, went to the bathroom, and there it was. Just a little red spot on the toilet paper. So anticlimactic. My mom had given me a “period starter kit” several years before, so I found the dusty box under the bathroom sink, used the way-too-big pad, and went back to sleep. When my mom came to make sure I was up the next morning for school, I stated very plainly, “I got my period last night.”
“Really?” she said. And that was that.
It seems whether you got it early, late, or right on time, the story of your first period is one of shame, excitement, confusion, and horror all wrapped into one giant sanitary napkin. It’s such a huge turning point for so many women, yet we don’t talk about it. We’re afraid of grossing people out, especially the men in our lives, but the truth is most women relate and we all have experienced the same things involving our periods.
It is time we should change that: The more we talk openly about our periods, the less stigma there will be.