Kia ora Arina, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Kia ora! I’m Arina Aizal, based in Dunedin and working at Otago Access Radio as the community connector and youth coordinator. My job is to empower the multicultural community and young people to share their voices on air! I’ve always been passionate about cultural women’s belonging in Aotearoa, as someone who lived multiculturally in both Malaysia and Aotearoa. I have my own radio show and podcast - The Arinality, which is about the cultural identities, belonging, wellbeing and passions of women in Aotearoa. I love learning about wellbeing practices and self-care from different cultures from the inspiring women I meet on The Arinality. If you wanna learn more about me and the work I do, you can find me on Instagram @arinaaizal :)
What does the word Dignity mean to you?
To me, Dignity means self-worth. It takes a lot of self-love to realise your self-worth. It has been a journey of self-love for me over these years to realise all the things I am capable of doing, as a woman, as a Muslim woman, when society and media say the opposite. Once I’ve realised this - I know there’s no turning back to how I used to feel about myself, so I would work on myself internally to be the best version of myself I could be, because why? I’m so so so worth it. Girl, you are too!
What was your early experience with your period like?
I’ve been using pads since I was 11! But last month, I finally made the change to use Period Underwear and it has definitely changed how I view my menstrual cycles, as now I am more mindful of how I am impacting the world (in terms of less waste), and also supporting local businesses who advocate for the indigenous knowledge of periods, like AWWA. It took a lot of growth for me to change my perception of periods - something that used to be so dreadful, to something more awakening - I am celebrating my womanhood!
What is the best thing for you about being/identifying as a woman and menstruation?
To me, it is the sisters I’ve made from sharing the experiences of being in our period cycles. I was the only person in my family who menstruated after my mum stopped getting hers because of hysterectomy. So in my family, it can be a bit lonely not having another person I can share cycles with, especially as a Muslim woman, there are certain obligations where menstruating women are excused from because it was a chance for us to get our rest and rejuvenate ourselves. I went to an all-girls school growing up, and conversations about periods have always been something empowering and supportive. I remember getting so much love (and snacks) when I tell my friends that I’m getting cramps, and they just get it.
What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?
Being comfortable in my own skin feels like a long journey, but actually, how life works is that you live through younger versions of yourself until you are who you are today. I feel empowered when I think about the younger version of Arina, who was so kind to herself back then, and helped me to survive in this body today. Being gentle to myself is how I make myself feel comfortable in this body, and healing my inner child for the times when I was not as gentle as I should be. I like to remember my younger selves, and thank them for all the things they did even though they had very lack of knowledge back then - which made me the loved person I am now.
What would you like to say to anyone getting their first period?
Something I wished I heard 11 years ago was that I wasn’t alone, so to those getting their first periods - you are not alone! There are sisters around you who experience their cycles the same way as you do too. Since the feminist awakening, conversations about menstruation have gotten more aware and less tabooed. If you are curious about something, do your research, talk to people around you who you are comfortable with, and most importantly, have a good support system to talk about your womanhood. You belong in that body so make yourself feel at home with it! :)
Arina has published a ‘ The Arinality’ podcast episode on Mindful Menstruation where she talks about her experience from using pads to a more sustainable way - period underwear, the period shaming issue in Malaysian schools and what her faith taught her about womanhood! You can find this ‘The Arinality’ episode on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or click on this link: bit.ly/Arinality30
Thank you Arina!