Jessica Biel Talks to Her Sons About Her Period. She Wants More People to Do the Same.

We need to reframe how we talk about periods, too. The number of times I’ve heard, “Oh, you’re PMSing? No wonder you’re crazy today.” Or “Watch out, she’s on her period.” All of this just contributes to this unfair generalization.

Yeah, it’s all surrounded with shame. It’s so normalized in our life as women who grew up in a time where it wasn’t normal to talk about it, that I still do the same thing. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth, right? Yes, everything can be frustrating and that’s fine, but I think what happens is when we’re on our periods, the hormones that we’re experiencing in our bodies and the chemical equations that are going on are really exacerbating everything. But when someone says some comment like, “Oh, are you on your period?” It’s like a shameful comment. Or “you’re going to be crazy because this thing has got you.” It’s not looked at as like, “Oh wow, you’re really, truly experiencing a lot of different feelings and it’s not just in your mind.” We really do have to change the language around it because our young girls who are starting their foray into womanhood, are still getting the remnants of how people used to talk about it in such a negative and insulting way.

In the book, you say, “periods are cool.” And as I sat there reading it—PMSing badly, actually—I thought, “I want whatever Jess is on that made her write ‘periods are cool.’” Because when the valet took 20 minutes to pull my car up today and then made me late for another meeting, I kept telling myself, “but remember, periods are cool!” [Laughs]

Mantra, personal mantra, “Periods are cool!”

And you write that “periods are powerful.” I’m like, “Damn right, they’re powerful. I could move a car right now with my frustration and adrenaline.” So, explain.

Right. Well, I have to be honest. I don’t always feel that way either when I’m on my period. Boy, it doesn’t necessarily feel cool, but I think what I meant by that was cool in connection with the word powerful. Your body’s ability to have a period means your body is able to bring life into this world. It’s a pretty amazing thing. That’s pretty cool. And to cleanse your body every month. It’s a wild and weird experience, but it’s cool and powerful, too. And, to your point, changing the language around it. My midwife always used to say to me, “Pain with purpose,” because when I was in labor, at home, trying to get this baby out, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, the phrase just kept coming up, “Pain with purpose. Pain with purpose.” Sometimes that’s how I feel about a period. There’s a major purpose behind it.

So how do you take care of yourself when you’re PMSing or on your period?

It’s a process. I feel like I’m still not the best at it, but every time I have a big event or a work experience, I’m looking at my calendar going, “Oh my God, it’s going to come at this moment or around this time.” It shakes your world and you don’t want to have to deal with those things. So I just try to give myself a little grace, like, “I don’t have to necessarily be physical today. I don’t necessarily have to make it to my Pilates class or to the gym. I can rest.” I think giving ourselves some space to just hibernate a little bit can do wonders for the way you’re feeling because you’re acknowledging the fact that you’re not your vibrant, dynamic self today.

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