I’m on my period this week. Is this what you would call a TMI moment? This week I am also on a mission to change the meaning of TMI. from “too much information” to “talking menstruation in-depth” (ensuing laughter). But seriously, talking about menstruation and vaginal health in general has become somewhat of a taboo topic within our society. With all of these new products coming out that claim to help women “be desecrate” about their period or make it so “no one will ever know,” I became interested in finding out why periods always need to be so hush-hush.
Tampons should not be confused with candy. They are not glow sticks. They should not make your lady-flower actually smell like a field of fresh-cut roses. So why do all of the commercials out there insist that tampons and pads should look or smell like these things? Because it seems like that’s what women want. In a poll done by Kotex, 67% of women don’t want anyone to know that they are on their period. 84% of those women said they feel the need to hide their tampon or pad while on the way to a public restroom. If this many women feel the need to hide something that is not only overwhelmingly common, but just plain natural, there is something askew.
Although the Kotex poll stated that well over half of women feel the need to hide their feminine products in public, 70% of women wish society would change the way it talks about vaginal health, menstruation in particular. Here’s the kicker: most feel like they can’t do anything about it. Contrary to popular belief, we can do something about it: be open to talking about it! The more we talk, the more comfortable society will become with the topic. Chatter is the way to reverse the shame and taboo bound to period-banter.
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff would agree. At only 18 years old, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff took matters into her own hands by writing My Little Red Book, an anthology of first-period tales. Yes, this actually exists. The stories in her book are from women of all ages, from all around the world. Kauder Nalebuff even got big names like Meg Cabot and Gloria Steinem to tell their coming-of-age story. The proceeds from My Little Red Book have helped current and past health programs like the Planned Parenthood program Real Life. Real Talk., which taught parents how to have open and honest conversations with their kids about sex. We should be able to talk openly and honestly about having our periods too.
I understand that as women we don’t need to announce the fact that we are on our period, or hold our tampons up like golden staffs leading the march to the restroom, but we should not feel ashamed or embarrassed anymore about having feminine products on our person. In high school, I used to shove a tampon in the waist of my jeans, cover it with my shirt and sprint to the bathroom in fear of being discovered. Now, I’m a hero to a friend if I’ve got an extra one in my bag. We can all be looked at as strong, hero-like females, but the first step is to be confident and unashamed of who we are, periods and all.