– GUEST BLOG BY TESSA CUSTERS –
The first menstruation. Almost every woman I’ve spoken to clearly remembers this moment in her life when she becomes a woman. So why do we take it for granted..? – A guest blog by Tessa Custers.
The menarche (first menstruation) is a special moment in a woman’s life. It’s the moment a girl becomes fertile. Strangely enough, it’s hardly given any thought or attention. She Blooms wants to change this with a ritual for mothers and daughters. The project started in Kayamandi in South Africa, a community with a lot of pregnant teenage girls and with AIDS as the leading cause of death among adolescents. These problems have made ‘sexuality’ a negative and difficult subject to discuss. Mothers hardly talk about it with their daughters. Not good, because open communication about menstruation and female sexuality leads to a happier and safer sexual development.
‘Soap as conversation starter’
That’s why we have developed a workshop about menstruation in South Africa in which mothers are being prepared to broach the subject with their daughters. They learn about the physical, mental and emotional aspect of menstruation. They are also taught not to be afraid when using words like ‘vagina’ and ‘menstrual period and are encouraged to share their own experiences. In the fourth and last session, they get a locally produced period soap. A conversation starter, but also a present for their daughter, to celebrate the fact that she’s a woman now. The soap, which is meant for your body and not for your vagina, works soothing and symbolically against period pains. There are three versions; against fatigue (with lavender oil and honey), mood swings (with rose geranium oil and rooibos tea) and cramps (with rosemary oil and oats).
‘Menstruation should be celebrated’
Periods should be celebrated more everywhere, not only in South Africa. That’s why women all over the world can purchase the soap and use it as a tool to discuss menstruation and sexual health with her daughters. All profits of these sales will go towards financing the She Blooms project.
Like this initiative? Currently there’s a crowdfunding campaign to fund the production of the soaps and the further development of the workshop.
About the author The Dutch Tessa Custers wants to create more openness and encourage people to think about their attitudes towards sexuality and reproductive health. That’s why she initiated She Blooms. More info about this project? Check out www.sheblooms.nl/en/.
Not so divine secrets of the Bullwinkle sisterhood, by Mary Novaria
A time for celebration, by Robyn Jones
A guide for girls
Not just for girls
Menstrual dropouts: period taboos in rural Uganda, by Amy Serunyigo
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