“I’m a grown ass woman, and yet, there I was, trying to find a way to conceal my tampon as I headed to the restroom.”
There we were at the gym, a group of women diverse in age and background, discussing our menstrual cycles. We also touched on anal sex, ovulation, uterine massage, masturbation, child birth, and the virtues of camel toe.
You know, your average gym talk.
We talked about how ridiculous it is to feel the need to hide our tampons, and the power and freedom involved in choosing to delve into topics that are considered taboo in some circles, yet are completely normal aspects of womanhood.
This kind of conversation doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all—in fact, it makes me feel so powerful.
So liberated. I was deeply inspired and comforted by the openness and authenticity of my fellow sisters, and wound up processing and unraveling a lot of things I’ve been thinking about during our long and fulfilling conversation.
Okay. I’m not ignorant to the fact that plenty of readers likely cringed at some of the words I just typed; I know that so many of us feel uncomfortable with these topics and what they represent—which is exactly why I want to talk about it.
Because let’s be perfectly honest about something: if we’re going to have real conversations about strength, self-love, acceptance, and girl power, I think we need to stop hiding from these topics.
If we want to start showing up in our fullness, in our bigness, in our best, most authentic ways, I think we need to stop feeling as though we have to find a place to hide our tampons as we walk to the restroom. We don’t need to do that, and in fact, I believe that very act is stealing our power.
We can’t be afraid to talk about how challenging it is to find time for sex with our partner when we have kids, demanding careers, or a combination of the two.
We can’t keep feeling embarrassed to talk about our bodies if we ever want to truly embrace them and stand powerfully within them.
If we want to truly manifest this energetic feminine shift that I think we can all feel is starting to take place in the world, we can’t feel as though any part of us is shameful.
Because it isn’t.
It isn’t “weird” or “gross” to talk about this stuff, and we don’t need to apologize for sharing “too much information.” Hell, I’m always keen on talking about my menstrual cycle—just ask any of my friends.
Because if we can’t connect in a safe space with other women and have these real, honest, important discussions, how will we ever find the courage and the tenacity to be completely ourselves in a world that demands we conform to it’s standards? How will we ever feel comfortable in our skin and in charge of our bodies?
What it comes down to is this:
Women’s fitness is about more than lifting weights, losing fat, and gaining muscle. Yes, those things are important and they have their place, but what space can they occupy in our lives if we’re afraid to take up space? And how can we even begin to understand what it means to take up space if we don’t carve out space to have these conversations?
I think that the world is changing and in that change we’re seeing that women are capable of taking up more space than we have been. We’re finding that extraordinary things take place when empowered women come together to have meaningful, open conversations. We’re learning that we can help each other talk about periods and cellulite and sex and trauma without shame.
We’re discovering what it’s like not to be silent about the things society has told us are off limits. We are learning that we don’t need to be intimidated by the weight room, we can speak up about our feelings and decide what we want for our own bodies, that our worth is our birthright and that worth extends beyond our bodies.
And we’re doing this with the help of other women who want to see us succeed because they believe the empowerment of one woman benefits the entire collective.
My darling, extraordinary, powerful woman in arms, here is my challenge to you:
I want you to let yourself take up more space.
I want you to give yourself permission to be exactly who you are—no apologies, no excuses, no asterisks.
I want you to stop hiding your tampons and prefacing statements with the phrase “too much information.”
I want you to open up, release the shame, and detach from the story that you’re meant to play small and keep quiet about the very real, very nasty, very normal aspects of being a women in today’s world. I want you to affirm that doing so is an act of defiance against a dark and dangerous force that commands that you stay small at any cost so that you can fit neatly within it’s standards.
Talk to your friends about your period, your body, your urges—because in doing so, you take the stigma out of these perfectly natural things, and create space for other women to feel open and free.
Together, we can rebel against the quiet, “appropriate,” small space that society demands we occupy. Together we can contribute the rise of equality and the elimination of internalized misogyny—and it can start with something as simple as a tampon.