Throughout the past few months I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be in charge of your body, and how empowering that can be. Outside of being able to choose if you want to have a child or not, there are many ways that you can reclaim and celebrate your body. Some women get tattoos to show how beautiful their body can be as a canvas, some women go for a total style change to showcase their love of their body and some women, like myself, focus on learning how our body actually works and what role we can play in those biological processes.
This summer, my mother shared an NPR article with me that got the ball rolling in my advocacy for women’s bodies. For years, she had been trying to talk to young women about the kind of choices they can make surrounding birth control and, more specifically, surrounding the choice to have their period or not. Once she found this article, she could not wait to share the words she had been trying to find for years. The central point of the NPR article was that if you are on hormonal contraception, you have zero medical need to have what is described as a period. The article briefly broke down why the placebo week in birth control can be skipped and the historical context for why we have that week in the first place.
I took away three things from that article: I never have to have my period again, the Catholic Church (for reasons beyond me) wants women to have their periods, and that I clearly do not know how my body works and the choices I have. While excited to not have to deal with “Aunt Flow” again, I was incredibly frustrated that I did not know all the options that I have for my body … And my mom is a doctor! Sure, I could have asked my mom or my doctor questions about the pill, but the fact that I did not have enough knowledge about my body to even ask questions amazed me.
When one is normalized to a concept, they don’t even think about the possibilities that exist beyond what they have previously experienced. I am lucky enough to come from a very privileged background, with easy access to doctors, and a mother who will always be my ally in my choices about my body. To my disappointment, I still did not know something as simple as being able to skip seven different colored pills to stop having my period. It upset me even more when I thought about women who do not have the same privileges I do. They should have every right to be in charge of their bodies and know about every single choice that they are capable of making.
Again, I am not advocating that every woman should be on birth control or should never have their period. I am advocating for the right for every woman to know how her body works. Women’s health has always been so taboo and underappreciated because of societal norms revolving around menstruation and the overuse of male models for most health talks. I hope to create and change the dialogue around women’s health because I am sick and tired of just starting to find out how my body works at the age of 20, when I should have known from the start.