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  • Zuhra Al Yarabi

Ever Changing

“Will you be my bridesmaid?” a question written beautifully on a card. With no doubt in mind, I uttered, “Yes!” That was accompanied by synchronized “Awws” among a table of bridesmaids reading the contents of their personalized handwritten cards. Over tea, we discussed future bridal plans, and part of it included the bachelorette trip. At that point, regardless of where we went or what we did, the then bride-to-be wanted the experience to capsulate and celebrate the loving relationship we all shared as a unit.

The plan came to fruition and reached completion a few months into the year. We arranged to spend the weekend in Upstate New York and leave all the city bustle behind us. Like many homes within the area we chose, it was secluded and blended in with nature. Clear blue skies, the sound of birds in the morning, the breeze and lightness of crisp air, and colorful butterflies feeding on nectar— it all paved the way for slow and relaxing mornings. And this is where the story begins.  

The first activity on the list was pool day, followed by an intimate and fancy dinner. It was this day that stood out to me. I found myself engaging in an observation that I generally tell people to shy away from and repel its somewhat daunting thoughts. I started comparing my body to those around me. This comparison began when we took pictures and looked back at them to make sure we were all in the frame. The voice in me said, “Your thighs are bigger, you have a tummy…” Mind you, I was on my period. Of course, my body would appear different around this phase of the menstrual cycle. Among other symptoms, menstruating women often experience fluid imbalance, acne, changes in sleep and mood, and heightened tendencies towards body dysmorphia. Regardless of those facts, it didn’t stop me from engaging in negative self-talk. However, later that night, I remember feeling astounded by my reaction. So, I took some time to reflect on my thought process.

I made it a point to remember that I am menstruating and not feeling like myself. I also challenged my thoughts by disregarding any statements filled with absolutes (that is, “I don’t always look like this”). One prominent point stuck with me: my body probably looks better at this moment in my life than it will ever be. I slowly found my mind taking a different route to reflect on this situation. Cherish. I had to cherish my body in all the stages it goes through. Another feeling emerged. It was thankfulness. I ought to thank my body for staying healthy and enabling me to go through my day independently.

My friends and I were talking about changes in general, and I mentioned this situation to them. We concluded that staying in the present and showing appreciation could potentially ground us and protect us from dismissing the positives and the adverse effects of hyper-fixation on intrusive and negative thoughts. Changes in body appearance throughout the menstrual cycle, or just aging in general, constitute subtle and progressive transformations that are inevitable. So, what route shall it be, going down a rabbit hole or climbing out of the hole?

Dear readers, if you’ve experienced something similar and feel comfortable sharing, please do so. I’m sure others will relate and might benefit from some suggestions or tips.

Written by Zuhra Al Yarabi

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphics by Satomi Shikano


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