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The Self Esteem Team travels the country speaking to schools, pupils and parents about everything to do with self-esteem and confidence.

Bodyform interviewed the founders Nadia Mendoza and Grace Barrett about periods, period poverty and why building self-esteem and confidence around this natural phenomenon is so vital.

1. How did you come together to create Self Esteem Team?

Nadia:We always describe it as a hobby that snowballed out of control. When we first met we talked and realised we had similar issues growing up – we both felt like misfits at school. We put together a class that we thought we’d go back to our old schools with and that would be it. Once we went out into the world, we secured an article in a magazine and then off the back of that lots of teachers got in touch because mental health wasn’t really something that was talked about much then.

 

I think I was quite shocked when I first went into classrooms at how much social media has amplified issues around self-esteem and mental health. 

2. When it comes to periods, how does that fit in to all of this?

Grace:I think it’s a really natural fit in terms of confidence. Obviously as a teen you’re going through so many changes and trying to figure out who you are. But it feels like a lot of those changes are “the elephant in the room” that no one really wants to talk about. When we first started working with Bodyform and we delivered the first couple of classes, we quickly realised that some of the basic science behind periods and reproduction hadn’t been taught, let alone the emotional and confidence side of things. 

3. What sort of problems are teens facing when they’re on their periods?

Grace:I think the age-old lack of communication between pupils and teachers is a really big one. For example, asking to go to the bathroom then a teacher challenging you on that. Period poverty is also something that exists in the UK and perhaps many people won’t be aware of this. 

4. How are young people in the UK experiencing period poverty at the moment?

Grace:In terms of the day-to-day, if someone is living in period poverty, it’s that question of whether someone wants to go to school and be embarrassed because they’re not equipped to deal with having a period. Or whether they’re going to stay at home where they can sit in the bath or use tissue. When those are your only options, I think we all know what we’d choose if we were in that situation. 

5. What’s your view on how period education is taught in schools at the moment?

Nadia:Some of the students we’ve spoken with say that when the teachers deliver a session on reproduction, they won’t actually say the word “period.” Instead, they will avoid it by saying things like “at this stage”, “monthly cycle” etc instead. If it’s not being delivered or taught in an open, honest way, it’s going to be difficult to receive the information it in an open, honest way.

6. What advice do you have for any children and teenagers worrying about going to school during their period?

Grace:The first thing I would say is that many more people are having a period than is often made apparent so remember that you’re not alone. Try and find a group of people, a friend or even a teacher, that you feel comfortable talking to about it.

 

As hard as it might be to ask for help, it’s important to be bold and brave because people will understand it’s not your fault and you’re not in control of it, so they will want to help you. 

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