Hormone Hell

by Cheryl Lauritzen • More.com Member { View Profile }

  When a girl reaches puberty a rite of passage arrives: menstruation a.k.a., menses, or as it will become commonly known as “getting your period.”  Who the hell came up with that euphemism?  It’s certainly not the end of something but only the beginning of a long, sometimes arduous journey. Must have been a man.
  When this event occurs I believe that every girl should be handed a manual where the first statement reads: “Welcome to Womanhood. For the next thirty years or so, you will be traveling on Hormone Hell Highway, hold on to your hiney!”  (A rite of passage, huh? Uh… I’ll pass!)  The manual continues; “Not only will your hormones wreak havoc with your moods but your body will experience very uncomfortable and painful sensations, i.e., sore boobs, cramps, headaches and bloating, just to mention a few.  Blood will flow from a part of your body that logically, you’d think, should not be flowing from.  The process will be messy, inconvenient and generally a pain in the ass (well, not the ass.)  You will soon learn why it’s called the curse.”
  In 1968, when I turned 13 tampons  (You want me to put that where?) were on the market but my mom chose pads (or Kotex) as the discomfort of choice, thank God. There were no adhesive pads that easily pressed onto your panties and definitely nothing with wings. There were sanitary belts and sanitary napkins. Again, who was in charge of naming these feminine products? Because these napkins did not exactly resemble the kind that you would want to wipe your face with! In my day, (God, I’m old), the pads were bulky and cumbersome. Wearing them felt like you were straddling a small pony. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to discuss the so called “belt”; an odd looking apparatus you wore around your waist. Dangling in the front and back were sort of elastic triangular shaped pieces with garter hooks at the ends. Ah yes, I remember it all too well. My mom retrieved one that she had worn from underneath the bathroom sink. (Note to Mom: you couldn’t buy me a new one?) She then demonstrated on me how to attach the giant-sized napkin to the garter hooks; passing on a mother/daughter tradition that has taken place for years. Was that pride on her face or pity? “You are becoming a woman,” she said. What?!!!! I’m only 13; I still play with Barbie’s! Thus, I was officially initiated into the ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pads.’ And this memory was officially cemented in my mind as one of the most embarrassing and humiliating experiences of my life. Thanks, Mom.
  So, fully equipped with the tools of the trade, so to speak, I awkwardly walked to school that day not having a clue what becoming a woman meant. But I did soon discover what a horrible idea this elastic belt was. It was constantly twisting and shifting causing me to wonder if the Kotex was still in the right place.Was it leaking through my pants? Oh my God, I’m wearing white! Thus I uttered for the first time a question I would ask my girlfriends for years to come, “Is there something on my butt?” Thank God, not soon afterward more convenient products were designed. Must have been a woman. 
  Thus begins decades of waiting for “Aunt Flo” or “your friend”,(hardly), to arrive every month, two of the many coded euphemisms used in the company of boys. Also popular was OTR or “on the rag” but that was used mostly by the boys when you were being bitchy as in; “Oh, she must be on the rag.” Depending on your circumstances, when your period does arrive, you’re either annoyed or relieved and when it doesn’t, anxious or ecstatic. (Think about it.)

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