Growing up as girls we were terrified to come of age. In Science & Agriculture and also Home Science we learnt that when we would reach puberty we would start our menses. There was something about that which made us nervous. We were told that when you started and played cha mama and cha baba you would get pregnant. We knew that it involved kissing. So we knew that when we started bleeding if we let a boy touch us we were doomed. Maybe that’s why at some point we were so scared to even be near a boy. In fact in the line to go to assembly we used to make sure we did not touch a boy by mistake. All the girls would laugh and the boys would make fun of you and say you were boyfriend and girlfriend.
You see in those days even seeing people kissing on TV was bad manners. We would get so embarrassed when a couple kissed. We would look down or go to the kitchen on an urgent errand. It was so bad that when a program called Usiniharakishe a couple kissed the program was banned by the President – Moi for showing bad morals.
So it is true to say that we were not looking forward to starting our periods. There was also the issue that we were told that when you were in your menses you would have bad cramps. So that whole rite of passage that changed you from being just a girl to being capable of having a baby (becoming a woman) was scary.
I remember when I started my menses. I was in Standard Six. I was both excited and terrified at the same time. Excited because now I was no longer just a girl but terrified of what this meant. It seemed like becoming a woman was such a responsibility. When I went home and told my mum she said you now have to be careful and don’t let any man touch you. Then she gave me some cotton wool to be using when I would get my menses.
It would shock girls of today who now use pads in primary school that many of us did not use pads until we got to high school. That was when my mum bought me my first pack of Always pads. Those were my rites of passage to joining high school. Getting my first pack of pads in Form One and having my hair permed for the first time.
I am lucky though because my mum could afford to buy pads. There were still people I knew who used cotton wool until fourth form. Even now in many places there are girls who cannot go to school during their menses because they can’t even afford cotton wool to use for menses. As part of the program to help girls many organizations including Rotary and individuals have donated money to buy pads or bought the pads themselves so that girls can stay in school.
There are some things that a man/boy may take for granted but for many girls those pads are a lifeline, not just to stay in school but for self esteem as well. There is always the feeling a girl has that her cotton wool or pad could be leaking. That she will get up and there will be a red stain on her clothes to show that she is her period. That’s why there are so many adverts of dancing girls saying you can stay happy always because no leaks. It has happened to many as if it was not enough that for some during their periods they would get pimples so it would be so obvious (thank God that never happened to me).
As I look back I have had a long journey with Always. A journey that started in high school and has lasted until now. A journey that’s almost 20 years old. And now they have introduced another revolutionary brand. That new brand is Always Platinum. I did a post of the product here. Check it out in the supermarket. It is a great product and as the advert says “stay happy always”