My First Period Story

  • by Aisha Banks

Getting my first period was a bit scary, as I’m sure it must have been for a lot of us, but having my mom and a village of women to help me with this new part of my life was incredible and better than I imagined.

I got my first period when I was 11 years old. It was the beginning of summer, and I was at home with my family. I suddenly had the urge to get up and use the bathroom. When I first saw the blood, I was both confused and surprised by our girl “Ms. Flow.” This was all new to me and I didn’t really remember learning much about my period outside of the basics at that time. I wasn’t even sure if it really was my period. I had so many thoughts running through my mind - I was so scared! After sitting with myself for a little, my mom came to the rescue. Her face lit up and she started getting a bit teary eyed. At that time I didn’t understand why she was so emotional at that moment - shouldn't I be the one crying?? She showed me step by step how to put my pad on and gave me tips: how to thoroughly clean myself, how often I should change my pad, etc.. The rest of the day was a day of leisure. I got to sit around, watch tv, and get checked on. I felt weird, but taken care of.

(that's me!)

Just after getting my first period, I had a family dinner. I grew up in a family full of all women. To put this into perspective, I have 8 aunts on my mom’s side and over 30 first cousins who now have their own kids too. Out of all of us, only 11 of them are boys. On this particular family dinner, my aunts just so happened to be discussing their experiences growing up, puberty, and health care. The women in my family are extremely open about discussing our bodies and what is best for them, so this was not surprising or uncommon to hear.

All of a sudden, my ears tuned in to my mom talking. She decided to take it upon herself to announce to my aunts and cousins that I had gotten my first period. They were beyond excited - as I just sat there flushed and filled with embarrassment. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it, especially so soon. I was only 11 and still felt weird about my body, and now that I had a period, it made me feel even more awkward than I already was. To my surprise, my embarrassment slowly drifted away as we discussed what this meant for me.

My family and I are Muslim, so this was a huge step in my journey. This meant that I was now considered an adult and would be held accountable for my faith! At first this terrified me because I was still learning, but as the conversation went on I really began to understand and see the beauty in it. We began discussing what kind of pads I should be using, foods I should be eating, and vitamins I should be taking to make sure my body was healthy and nourished during my period. For the first time, I actually felt like I was a part of and welcomed to an adult conversation.. The advice given to me was endless. Still to this day, they give me advice on how to take care of myself and my body holistically, as I suffer with extremely severe period cycles.

For a lot of people in multicultural families, it is often difficult to discuss periods. They’re often not talked about at all. Periods are treated as a taboo topic when it is a natural part of our journey. On top of not being properly educated in schools about sex and our bodies, minorities have the burden of cultural stigmatization that puts a barrier up between us and our health. I have heard many horror stories about Black people not getting the right care they need, because we have stereotypes attached to us such as being dramatic. As someone that has extremely painful periods (especially on day one), I was even questioned by a Black doctor if I was honest about the pain I was feeling. I was prescribed a dosage too low to thoroughly help me, and when I complained about it I was still questioned. It felt like a slap in the face to not be trusted and believed in by someone in my own community. It took the backing of my mom for them to believe what I was saying and give me the proper care. That situation alone made me so grateful for my family. I always say that I have been one of the lucky few that has a family that is always open and willing to discuss the health of my body without any judgment - something that Black and multicultural families rightfully deserve!


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