The Short of It
A teen fights back against period shaming in a powerful social media post.
Anushka Dasgupta, 16, who lives in Kolkata, India, was on her way home one night when she noticed people staring at her. During a long bus ride and walk, several women even approached her to ask that she pull down her shirt. It wasn't until one woman approached her and offered her a sanitary napkin that she realized why: her period had started and she'd bled through her clothing. On social media, she describes a "massive red stain across my butt and a rather artistic red dot under the zipper of my pants."
Despite how everyone around her was reacting, Dasgupta didn't think she had anything to feel embarrassed about, since having a period is part of a natural bodily process. "I AM NOT ASHAMED," she wrote several times on Facebook and Instagram in a post that has since gone viral, garnering more than 13,000 likes.
In the post, she writes about wishing the subject of a woman's period would not be so taboo. "Do not whisper when you utter the word 'PERIODS,' do not subtly offer a woman a sanitary napkin, or a fresh change of clothes. ASK her if she needs one, TELL her she has stained her clothes, DO NOT HELP HER HIDE IT," the teen said.
She dedicated her passionate plea to "all the women who offered to help me hide my womanhood" and "the men who ogled me today." At the end of her incredibly mature call-to-action, Dasgupta says, "There will be many bloodstains on pants, on skirts, on bedsheets, on cushion covers, on chairs, on tables, against the wall, and on the battlefield where YOU fight the stigma by NOT BEING ASHAMED."
I came home today at four minutes past nine after a long walk, a metro journey and a 10 minute bus ride. There's nothing unusual about my evening except for the fact that multiple women walked up to me on my way home and asked me to pull my tee shirt down, most men ogled, all the kids I met didn't notice/care. I came to know why I was the centre of attention for the better part of my journey when a woman (well meaning, I'm sure) offered me a sanitary napkin. I had stained my pants. So here I was, well past eight, standing alone at Esplanade with a massive red stain across my butt and a rather artistic red dot under the zipper of my pants. This post is for all the women who offered to help me hide my womanhood, I AM NOT ASHAMED. I bleed every 28-35 days, it is painful at times, I get moody at times, but I walk into the kitchen and get myself some chocolate biscuits and I'm good to go for the next eight hours come hell or high water because I AM NOT ASHAMED. This post is for all the men who ogled at me today, I AM NOT ASHAMED. Check out the big red blotch on my pants all you want, check out my butt, check out the way I move, come touch me if you dare, and I will show you that I AM NOT ASHAMED. I will take out a sanitary napkin and show you how it works while you can teach me how to pee in public (because clearly you're not ashamed, and neither am I). To all the children who didn't give a damn, DO NOT BE ASHAMED. There will be many bloodstains on pants, on skirts, on bedsheets, on cushion covers, on chairs, on tables, against the wall, and on the battlefield where YOU fight the stigma by NOT BEING ASHAMED. Do not whisper when you utter the word "PERIODS", do not subtly offer a woman a sanitary napkin, or a fresh change of clothes. ASK her if she needs one, TELL her she has stained her clothes, DO NOT HELP HER HIDE IT. I AM NOT ASHAMED. I AM NOT ON MY *period*. I AM ON MY PERIOD.
I am blown away by this teen's courageous post, and I'm not alone. Dasgupta told Today.com, "I didn't expect the post to go viral, but once it did, I've been receiving an immense amount of support from my family and my friends and a whole lot of strangers who have written to me in support of the sentiment." She added, "However, there's also a lot of hate."
I say, keep your head held high, Anushka. I wish more teens were like you, confident in their bodies and not ashamed of the changes they are going through, which are natural. If as a society we were more open about topics like menstruation, acne, and breast changes, perhaps not as many girls would feel alone, and we'd see lower adolescent depression and suicide rates, less bullying, and scores of other benefits.