Once upon a time ago, I was that girl, you may know the one or perhaps, you are her. If you are her, I’m sorry. I was once her too.

The girl who cringed at the thought of a tampon anywhere near her who-ha. The girl who plotted her life around those five pesky days during the month — swimming or yoga? Forget it. And that girl, oh that young girl, who treated the visit from Aunt Erma like the plague. This makes me ashamed to admit, but I used to be afraid to even look at the inside of my vagina.

Get a look in there at all your folds and crevices.

I guess all that comes at no surprise– my mother took to discussing bodily topics like her own version of the plague, avoiding any and every chance for an intimate moment about reproduction, private parts, and sex. I was the twelve-year-old scared little girl who wrote her mom a note. Mom, got my period, need more pads. Thanks.

That was the extent of my welcome to motherhood. Mom always made sure the bathroom drawer was filled with our womanly needs, and I was scared shitless to put a tampon up my vag, afraid to pop my cherry. To tell you I had no understanding, I mean zero, of my body is truly an understatement. A period in my house was like the unspoken taboo of my life. I felt dirty and weird when it was the most normal thing to ever happen to me.

The way mom viewed menstruation could be easily broke down in five words: it’s a bloody disgusting time. Mood swings galore; leave me alone for five days unless I come to you first and make sure the kitchen is stocked with sweets. We won’t talk about this– let’s all just suffer in silence alone, stay home until this passes. Rinse and repeat.

Obviously, as a little girl, I looked up to my mom, for a short time at least, and the mirrored response to periods and bodily image bounced back onto myself. Through my teens and twenties, I viewed my body, vagina and period as a burden. Believing because I had a vagina and bled monthly, I was limited to my excellence; limited to a shell of isolation and Ben and Jerry’s whenever Erma showed up at my door.

Growing and birthing two humans from my very own body made me turn full circle. I am woman. Hear me roar. Now, the acceptance of my va-jay-jay, and all the fun words for it, have led me down a road to embracing every visit from Erma. In all of its bloating, mood swings, The Shining-elevator-blood-scene-glory. My body can do some cool shit and it’s beauty through every curve, imperfection and dimple have taken me too long to appreciate. But now, I’m here for it.

If I had a daughter, the discussion of a positive body and vagina image would be thrown in as soon as curiosity began. Talks about accepting and loving your body would be a daily occurrence. Menstruation would be viewed as simply the beauty of becoming a woman– not a monthly chore of grin and bear it. Embrace it. All of it. Life– with all of its bloody mess.

 

Laura Bower
Author

While she's not pulling an all-nighter reading the current book she's obsessing over, Laura can be found outdoors with her two energetic, dino-loving, loud-mouthed little boys. In between days of running endless errands and losing her patience, she enjoys writing with a good cup of coffee. Find her on Twitter (she's not interesting).

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