Nourishing Our Young Women Forwards and Backwards, The “Red Party”

Vanessa Osage
Feb 26, 2019 · 4 min read
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We all carry a line from our ancestors into everything we might create in our own lives

As parents, our actions always send a message. Hosting a Red Party tells girls they can own and celebrate an essential part of themselves. Menstruation is both a taboo and a function of power. This is true, not only in the ability to re-create life, but in the heightened senses available to women throughout their cycles. It is clearly time to let our young women (those with a female body, regardless of gender identity) know that these senses are actually super-powers, to be claimed and revered.

As kids of all genders grow up, it is essential that we as parents give them an alternate message about bodies, sexuality and intimate relationships. The bulk of media will likely only send messages that would separate a young woman from her body and her power; that part is beyond our control. Yet, to come together in celebration this way is a far more compelling message, one that will be felt and lived on the emotional, physical and interpersonal levels.

1. With self-acceptance, we love better.

Self-love and self-compassion are strongly correlated to greater satisfaction in life via motivation, strength and improved relationships. Dr. Kristin Neff has reported that one effect of self-love is decreased stress (as cortisol levels), which allows for an increase in oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone. A practice of self-love helps kids to be clearer and more available for healthy romantic/sexual intimacy down the line. The red party says, “This is part of you. We honor and accept it, so you can accept it too.”

2. With body awareness, we learn to trust ourselves and our instincts more quickly.

The late cultural anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, Ph.D. speaks of the four intelligences: mind, heart, body, life force/spirit. She notes, “In wilderness training programs of any kind, one of the keys to survival is that you have to employ all of those intelligences. And when in doubt, trust the body intelligence because it will not lie.”

3. When we are connected to other women, and our ancestors, we have the peace of knowing our place.

Menstruation links women/those in a female body to all the women who have come before them. It is a shared experience and the source of the connection itself. Parents can bring this element into a Red Party by inviting living female relatives, and speaking of a girl’s ancestors, as far back as can be remembered. Symbols of connection, such as red ribbon through pictures of all her women ancestors can be a powerful representation.

4. Our attitudes toward our physical systems can actually influence the flow of blood in our bodies.

Research on stress and the ways we think of our body’s functions reveals dramatic findings. Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal reports on a study in which research participants either believe that stress is bad for you — or view stress as helpful. When participants viewed stress as harmful, their blood vessels actually constricted, limiting the flow of oxygen to all major organs of the body. For those who could re-think of this bodily response as helpful, blood vessels stayed relaxed and open — mimicking moments of joy and courage in the body. Healthy menstruation depends on the relaxed and free-flow of blood in and through the body. Think of this for a moment; the implications are profound.

5. The beginning of menstruation, or menarche, is a rite of passage in a number of ways.

When handled with intention, parents can address a few basic needs of adolescents, while helping to prevent negative risk-taking behaviors in the teen years. As she leaves something behind and crosses a threshold into the unknown, a door of possibility opens. We all weather life transitions better when our needs are met. Her developmental needs as she moves through puberty: Recognition, Belonging, Identity & Individuation.

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