Girl Talk: Do You Period-Shame Yourself?

March 28, 2016  |  

Corbis

Corbis

I read a really nice story this past weekend about a guy who carries around sanitary products in a fanny pack for women who might need them. He went viral after sharing a fascinating story of a woman who apologized to him at the gym after she realized he overheard her asking a friend for a tampon. To her surprise, he pulled out one for her to use. She was mortified:

After reading his colorful post, I wasn’t thinking about other people of the male persuasion equipping themselves with feminine products to come to our aid, but rather, of the woman who was mortified about Ward overhearing her request for a tampon. Most of us might read his account and think that the young lady was quite dramatic. But just how comfortable are you when it comes to dealing with your period in public?

I’ve personally come a ways from where I used to be. I can buy a box of tampons and pads and stand in a checkout line with them without losing my sh-t. But I still hide them on the way to the bathroom–the office toilet and both my own and my future husband’s bathroom. Whether I’m stuffing them in my pockets, briskly walking to the bathroom with one hidden in my hand, or trying to shove my used pads in a black bag behind my partner’s toilet and refusing to let him dispose of them with the rest of his garbage, I do the most. And the one time I had a leak in his bed, he was already at work. I managed to clean up the mess, and to this day, he still doesn’t know it happened. I scrubbed those sheets until my wrist hurt.

I’m clearly not as comfortable with it all as I would like to be.

Some of us carry our entire purses with us because we don’t want to be seen carrying around pads, tampons and wipes to stay fresh. There have been articles written offering advice on how to discreetly hand off tampons to friends, as well as pieces about what it says about your personality when it comes to the many ways you can hide your sanitary napkins and tampons.  And some companies have fed into our discomfort, making feminine products that come “Sleek and small, they hide in your pocket when you’re on the way to the ladies room.” And don’t forget the pads that come in a paper that is less noisy!

What are we? Teenagers trying to make the mad dash to the restroom during English Lit?

We’re in a time when women are more vocal about menstrual cycles, in particular, the taxes we’re required to pay for feminine products, the conversation about period leave around the world, and endometriosis. Therefore, this is probably a good time for us to work on not being so embarrassed about carrying our goods in public. I’m not saying you should run from room to room waving a tampon or pad in the air as a “f–k you” to patriarchal society. But maybe we should rethink carrying heavy cargo to the bathroom as a decoy, whispering as low as possible when we ask friends and co-workers for products and the way we allow cashiers to double and triple bag our sanitary items because, God forbid, others know that we’re actually bleeding uncontrollably a few days a month. But alas, we must do what makes us most comfortable, and even I’m a work in progress with this.

So while I’m smiling at the idea of men like Chance Ward keeping tampons around for us ladyfolk, what would make me beam more would be if we could stop doing everything in our power to be discreet about the equipment we use to deal with it. Because who doesn’t know that we’re having our periods in 2016? Well, aside from this little guy:

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