Column by J1 Reporter Cassie Bauer
Your first period. The long anticipated and magical “initiation” into womanhood that most young women long for. When the day comes, older sisters happily assist you and friends throw “period parties” with balloons, cakes and celebration.
Well…this was not the case for me. What was supposed to be an exciting milestone in my early adolescence, ended with me crying in my mom’s arms before leaving for school on a dreary March day in fifth grade. Getting my period signified two things for me: it meant that I was growing up and it also meant that I was an outcast.
At my grade school there was a stigma around periods. No one else in my fifth grade class, or no one that I knew of, had had their period yet and I felt alone and ashamed. Even though my mom was nothing but supportive, I had no older sister or friend to confide in and I felt embarrassed.
I would strategically unwrap my feminine products before going to school each day so that no one could hear the crinkle of a wrapper in the stall and know that I had gotten my period. I kept it a secret from my friends for nearly a year, until one of them got theirs and I finally had someone to confide in that could relate.
Now, looking back at my fifth grade days makes me laugh. The contrast between junior year me and fifth grade me is drastic and most of that has to do with my time at Marian. Marian’s all-girl atmosphere and empowering ideals have completely changed my outlook on periods. At Marian you can walk into a classroom asking for a tampon and a dozen girls will dig through their backpacks to lend you one. Teachers have drawers full of feminine products and the office is stocked with their own drawer as well.
Although my first period was not as magical as most, Marian’s environment has helped me overcome.