Every girl remembers first getting her period, the horror and shame that accompanied it and the sudden panic of dealing with a new monthly challenge. As young girls, the matter is rarely ever discussed. You have the "puberty talk" in school at some point and hopefully, your mom says something about it. However, conversations with parents often amount to a book or simply being told what happens biologically in a very awkward way. It is always this hidden seemingly inappropriate thing that is never discussed. When it inevitably happens to you you once again assume that it should be hidden and kept quiet.
The measures taken to hide your period only escalates from there. We all remember slipping tampons in our sleeve to go to the bathroom in school and having a secret case for period products that never see the light of day. Somehow each of us experienced a terrifying leak situation and subsequently had to ask all of our friends for pants or a sweatshirt to tie around our waist. Beyond that there is going swimming for the first time, playing sports, having male family members find your tampons and pads, etc. I think remembering to have tampons and pads with me everywhere I go was one of my main stressors through my teenage years. Sleepovers and school trips become an entirely new and fear-filled event.
When you are old enough to shop on your own an entirely new awkward situation is presented: having to actually buy tampons and pads. For some reason, every single girl thinks it is incredibly embarrassing to be buying period products, specifically if you have a male cashier or you run into someone you know. I do not know a single girl who doesn't hate this experience and quite honestly it shouldn't be this way. None of these things should be the way they are because periods shouldn't be embarrassing or secretive.
I quite honestly don't see the point in creating such a stigma around something that happens to literally over half of the world's population. By making periods an inappropriate and rarely discussed topic, we make female biology and health equally as an avoided subject. Men are incredibly uncomfortable whenever periods or anything having to do with them are brought up. Teachers, coaches, and friends treat it as this awkward and gross phenomenon. Women are treated as if there is something wrong with them when periods are brought up, which does absolutely nothing to help the confidence and insecurity of young women and girls.
In several countries around the world, women are even forced to live in exile or prevented from participating in certain activities. These kinds of horrible rules only exist to perpetuate the notion that periods are gross and even that women should be punished for this natural process. As long as practices like these continue to exist women have no hope of gaining respect for their personal health and biology. Further, if women's bodies are not respected, there is no hope for women themselves gaining respect.