We all have that one most embarrassing moment story to tell, right?! Or for some of us, like me, wayyyyy more than one! Whenever I am asked to share my most embarrassing moment, I have one perfectly polished story to tell. It includes surgery on my middle finger, some unfortunate bandaging and snickering hospital staff. It makes people laugh every time.
But it’s not my real most embarrassing story.
The real story involves a 9-year-old and her period. Yup, I started my period at 9 years old. Thankfully I was at home and my mom immediately knew what was going on. That turned into a talk about maxi pads (the old style, 1-inch pads!) and how to care for myself during “that time of the month.”
One fateful 9-year-old day, however, I discovered that I didn’t quite know what I needed when it came to my body and menstruating. The pad I thought would last me all day didn’t, and I bled right through my jeans, onto my wooden desk seat. The teacher sent me to the nurse and my poor friends had to clean it up, while a concerned boy in my class asked if I cut myself. I wanted to leave school and not come back.
Still Embarrassed After All These Years?
Flash forward to menopausal me on my first Compassion employee trip to Rwanda. Me and a team of all men. Day two of our trip and I unexpectedly started my period. UGH!
As a grown woman, you’d think I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to tell my male boss that I just got my period and needed sanitary products, but I was. He was so kind and so was our male trip leader. They took me to a small, expat-run store where I could buy pads. (The same, 1-inch pads I wore as girl!) Tampons were not an option in Rwanda at that time.
The rest of our time in Rwanda I was terrified that I would have a repeat of my 9-year-old experience and bleed through my skirt. I was regularly checking the back of my skirt and stood on the sidelines while the rest of my group took turns running around a big circle in a game with the children. I missed out playing because I was too afraid to participate while on my period.
There’s No Reason To Be Embarrassed
Feminine bodies are sacred, designed by God to work in a unique way, and that includes menstruation. Historically though, menstruation carries a stigma. It’s a taboo topic that still causes embarrassment for females of all ages living around the globe.
Honestly, it took me reading about the most amazing dads who started making reusable feminine hygiene products for their daughters, to see that, while I thought my period woes were unique to me, they were not.
My eyes have been opened to how important it is to address “period poverty” on behalf of girls living in low- and middle-income countries.
One UNESCO report estimates that 1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school at least four days per month due to their menstrual cycle. One sponsored girl in Uganda, Caroline, had an embarrassing experience similar to mine. She nearly dropped out of school because of it!
Thankfully, puberty education and helping provide feminine hygiene products have proven to increase school attendance.
You know what I find ironic? That through publicly sharing my most embarrassing story, I am no longer embarrassed by it. Now, I won’t be sharing it at the next office icebreaker, mind you. But I do love how God took one embarrassing moment and used it to raise awareness of period poverty. Because we really shouldn’t be embarrassed by something God himself created.