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Finding my Voice as an Activist
Anaya Balaji (she/her)
|
6.28.2021

Periods. Where did everything go wrong? When did mankind decide to create the stigma around them? Who even created the stigma? No one knows the exact answers to these questions, and to be honest it doesn’t actually matter. Why reminisce on the past when you can’t change it. What good is it going to do sulking? All you can do is try to alter the future, and that is what I and so many other individuals around the world are trying to do daily.

The creators of non-profit organizations always have this big story about how they got into activism. When they talk about what brought them to advocacy it is always a big trip that changed their view of the world, or a person who they met who changed their life. If having the coolest story of how you became an activist was a competition I would certainly win by a landslide. Ladies, gentlemen, and those who don’t identify with a certain gender you may want to brace yourself for this information. I present to you none other than the bloody, dramatic 352 page manifesto Period Power written by Nadaya Okamoto. My journey to activism started when I got pranked with the book Period Power on Valentines Day by my lovely 7th grade English teacher Mrs. Lyon. How she pranked me is a whole other story, but it was quite the life changing experience if I do say so myself. I don’t think she thought I was going to read it, but she was greatly mistaken. The night I had that book bestowed upon me I read it cover to cover. I squeezed out all the information possible from that work of art.

The topics that the book covered guided me so much that right after I finished it, I ran to the google search bar to look up “period stigma." I spent the rest of the day reading articles upon articles of information about periods. Did you know that some countries take part in the practice Chopathi, where an individual is kicked out of their homes just for menstruating?! I was dumbfounded when I learned this. Why should we have to be punished for something that happens naturally?

In 8th grade we are required to take this class called Innovate. Innovate is where you find a problem in the world and use your creativity to find an innovative solution. When I was told to pick my topic I was on my period... which explains why the first problem I thought of was the stigma surrounding periods, and I am so glad I chose it. With my topic picked, I started my activism journey.

Periods used to be such a taboo subject in my grade where you would have to whisper to your friend for a tampon, and then you would have to hide it in your sleeve of your sweatshirt until you got to the bathroom. When I first started educating my grade, it was awkward because I didn’t have complete confidence with the topic. I still felt a little awkward talking about periods, but through trial and error I learned that if you seem more confident about what you are saying, people will listen--and that's how I started to normalize the topic a bit more.

Word got out fast that I was doing something related to periods for my innovative project, and everyone found that a bit odd. Even the boys in my grade came to me with questions of why I was doing it, and then the conversation would just go to what is a period or what is a tampon? My friend Sophie and I even taught one of our friends James how to insert a tampon. He is gonna be a good brother to his little sister Bailey one day. I got the conversation going, and it changed the way our grade looks at periods. Periods are no longer something we whisper about and hide in our sleeves. Periods are something we talk about as if we were talking about the weather. I would not trade all the awkwardness and feelings of embarrassment that I went through at first to get to where I am. In one month I was able to normalize menstruation in my grade. Imagine what would happen if every single teenager tried to do the same. It's up to our generation to fix the way people see things. We are the future, and we need to start now. Today, I am excited to keep fighting period stigma in my role as August's Middle School Lead!

AUGUST

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