Author Shelly-Ann Weeks says her second release, ‘It’s My Body. Period’, will create greater understanding around menstruation for girls, parents and society as a whole.
The book is a story about a young Jamaican girl named Shelly-Ann as she experiences menstruation for the first time and how she navigates her way through puberty. In the story we meet her family – Mom, Dad and big sister Trudy and how they try to support her while dealing with their own personal issues with periods.
The story also features actual information about menstruation that can act as a guide for young girls who are also going through puberty. The book has information about products, complete with instructions on how to use them; it also has tips about how girls can have healthier and less painful periods.
Weeks said she can relate to some of the challenges as she had a similar experience as the main character in the book.
“Most Jamaica girls experiencing menstruation period for the first time are given a pack of pads and warned not to get pregnant. You know that good intentioned threat: ‘make sure you don’t carry nuh pickney in yah’ or ‘if yuh breed ah kill yuh’,” Weeks said.
“I was one of them. I started my period at 11 years old and all I got was a pack of pads and a warning not to get pregnant. The rest of it I had to figure out myself,” Weeks continued. “I did not understand why I felt so strange in my body and I definitely thought that pain was a part of being woman. I wrote this book with my 11 year old self in mind.”
According to Weeks, menstruation is still considered taboo and because of that women are often treated unfairly whenever it is brought up. She said, in any office, one can call in sick and openly complain about conditions including asthma, migraine, acid reflux, erectile dysfunction and get responses of empathy and understanding. But if a colleague ever mentions the word period, comments about ‘TMI’ or inappropriateness are made, she said.
Against that background, she encourages open discussions about periods.
“There is no way around it; we must have open conversations about periods, especially with young people – both girls and boys,” she said.
Having these discussions will help us better understand the body and know how to differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy period. Traditionally we have kept men and boys away from menstruation, and this has proven inefficient. If we include males in the conversation early, they will better understand periods and women overall. They will also be more compassionate towards girls and women whenever they are experiencing difficult periods, Weeks explained.
“This book is a great first step in starting a journey that will help create more understanding around menstruation. This is not only good for the young girl experiencing her period for the first time, but also her parents who will have a frame of reference wrapped up in a fun, relatable story,” said Weeks.
‘It’s My Body. Period’ is available in Kingston Bookshop, Sangsters Bookstores, Golden Closet, Online at firstinlineja.com and on Amazon.
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