Young Girls Will Get Inspired At Celebration Day For Girls
By: explorer team, ellaslist
It seems like yesterday I was my daughter's age, a pubescent, anxious ten-year-old fumbling my way through Year 5 at the local primary school. Puberty education in the mid-1980s basically consisted of a presentation for all students in the school hall and a furtive thumb through the children's book What's Happening To Me?
I was the daughter of a mother incapable of expressing herself or providing me with any of the guidance, information, and support I now recognise I really needed at that tender age. And while I've since forgiven her for silently smuggling a packet of sanitary pads into my wardrobe one day and leaving me to it, it did hurt my feelings, and I was left confused and alone when I got my period in Year 6. It needn't have happened that way, and I've long been determined to build a different sort of relationship and an open conversation around puberty and menstruation with my own daughter.
A Celebration Day for Girls - where did it begin?
Not surprisingly I was thrilled to learn about the first Celebration Day For Girls taking place in Sydney! Launched in Victoria in 2000 and recently in Sydney by Melissa Hildage, a massage therapist with a special interest in women's health and wellbeing, this unique and inspiring program has since been offered to and attended by thousands of mothers and daughters worldwide.
Extensive research has shown that young girls who experience menarche (their first period) well prepared, with a positive introduction and emotional support, experience higher self-esteem, fewer negative cycle-related symptoms and favourable overall menstrual perception. Menarche is a signpost of the beginning of a girl’s fertile years, and the menstrual cycle is an intrinsic aspect of womanhood.
The positively presented information, activities and conversation around these topics at the Celebration Day for Girls workshop can have a profound and lasting impact on girls, together with the ongoing support of mothers, families and other carers. In creating a healthy and grounded experience of puberty’s changes, we deeply nourish girls’ self-esteem, self-awareness and positive body image.
Through this, we can support a physical and psychological integrity that underpins healthy decision making around relationships, sexuality and fertility, as well as other life choices, when that time comes.
Prior to the Celebration Day itself, we gathered for a 2hr 'mums only' gathering at Mel's studio in Bondi, which gave us the opportunity to explore our own experiences and how they've impacted our relationships with our daughters. To help us build the safest environment possible for our girls 'on the day', we also walked through the content of the workshop and talked about our own hopes and wishes for the day. It was emotional. There were tears!
While my daughter was feeling extremely anxious in the lead-up to the workshop day, Mel put her instantly at ease when we arrived and encouraged her to help her put the finishing touches on the workshop space. Then I and the other mums bid our farewells, leaving our girls in Mel's safe hands for the morning session, during which they enjoyed lively discussion, fun activities, women’s stories and gentle celebration of the magical threshold of puberty and menarche experienced by girls of all cultures around the world.
At lunchtime we joined Mel and the girls for a delicious picnic lunch, after which we spent the rest of the afternoon engaging with our daughters in a variety of gentle, creative activities, sharing stories and information relating to their unfolding experience into womanhood - carefully selecting character cards, for example, which we thought illustrated each other's most positive personality traits and presented them to the group. We also scribed a secret wish for our daughters on a tiny piece of paper, which the girls then sewed into tiny heart pendants to take home.
Overall the focus was very much on creating a strong sense of mutual sharing and support around menstruation, and the girls were all fast friends by the end of the day.
Why Celebrate the Onset of Menstruation?
Studies have found:
- experiences of menarche (your first period) influence subsequent menstrual experiences (physical and emotional), which can last for years
- lack of information results in a negative evaluation of the first menstruation experiences
- taboos concerning menstruation still exist in many cultures, including Western countries
- the primary predictor for adolescent depression and anxiety in girls is menarche status; menarche marks a transition to the increased risk of depression and anxiety for girls
- an increase of mother/daughter conflict during the 12 months following menarche
- the less prepared for menstruation girls perceive themselves to have been, the more negative feelings they express toward menstruation
- inadequate emotional preparation for menstruation is associated with negative feelings at menarche
A Better Way...
The fact that many societies celebrate menarche as powerful, magical, and eminently positive—for the individual woman and society—indicates that menstruation is not inherently a bad thing, and that we have the power to transform our attitudes and experiences into positive and enriching ones.
By teasing out the dark and tangled web of taboo and shame, we can lift the curse and redefine menstruation! We can get to know and make friends with our cycling bodies; help our daughters achieve a healthy menstrual attitude with accurate and positive information; make available a range of holistic therapeutic options for any menstrual health issues that may arise and we can help our daughters become more self-aware and empowered.
I personally found the experience hugely rewarding. Though we may have started out a little awkwardly, my daughter and I really enjoyed the opportunity to come together over our shared womanhood, and feel really comfortable knowing that when the time does come, she'll feel better about it within herself, and that it will be something for us to celebrate together, even as a family.
What You Need To Know
June 2017 - Bondi Workshop Details
When: Sunday 4 June, 10am-4pm (with 2hr 'mums only' workshop 7-9pm a week prior)
Cost: $140 per mother/daughter pair (please note grandmother's, aunts, Godmothers or other significant others are welcome to attend in mum's place if need be!)
For more info or to express interest in future workshops, please feel free to call Melissa direct on 0431 727 361 or send an email.
To read more about Mel's extensive experience or to book your place, visit the Bodybright website.
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