Well . . . that happened

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The four taboo P’s of conversation: Politics, Prayers, Pay-checks, and Periods.

October 2014 – I found myself both mildly amused and incredibly horrified in line in front of Dr. Dignam whilst buying a box of tampons at Walgreens.

The past few months have been filled with articles in Seventeen magazine, Upworthy, Facebook, and social media in general, all about periods. Periods, birth control, and feminine hygiene products have all been satirized, slammed through poetry, and overall praised as of late.

Amy Schumer made a sketch comedy piece on how women have to seek approval from everyone just to have birth control. This highlights the fact that we leave our own health decisions up to the masses of people, where only 50% of them can even possibly begin to understand what it is like to be a woman. A slam poetry piece centered around periods was inspired by a tweet that said someone broke up with a girl because “this b**** started her period while we were having sex.”

Seventeen Magazine recently did an article on a boy who carries pads and tampons around for when his friends start their periods unexpectedly. Vox also had a piece on men providing tam- pons for women, however this piece talked about how NASA engineers planned to pack 100 tampons for Sally Ride on her one week long space mis- sion. Yes, 100 tampons for one week. I am not a doctor, but if she was going through even half of those she would have likely died from blood loss instead the rest of us get to die of laughter because the NASA engineers needed a biology lesson.

The question at the end of the day is, why are we all so afraid to talk about periods?

Girls go above and beyond to hide a tampon or a pad as they go to the bathroom. There is nothing quite like the slick move of a tampon up a sleeve, a pad disguised in the folds of yoga pants, or even the classic bra-pocket storage technique.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, girls throughout the world are often married off just after puberty. Culturally, this serves the purpose of best utilizing their childbearing opportunities. This most often causes girls to stop their education, and often times limits their future income potential.

Personally, I would not have made a good wife when I was 10 (maybe because at 5’1” I could barely reach the shelf where we kept the plates in the kitchen, or maybe because the only food I knew how to make had directions on how to microwave it), and I also was not very proud to get my period. Although there is a hilarious commercial-gone-viral about a girl who wanted her period so badly she faked it; trust me, that is not what happens. Maybe some people wanted so badly to become a woman that they practiced wearing pads or even went so far to fake it with “raspberry glitter nail polish,” but that was not me. I was scared. I did not know what was wrong with me. Sure, I had read American Girl’s book, “The Care and Keeping of You,” but all I took from that was that if you blow dry your hair your boobs get bigger, though the book never said this directly the explanation of “your body will change” was accompanied by a girl who’s breast went from nothing to something and the only thing different between the two drawings was that in one, she was holding a blow dryer.

I knew where babies came from, but the concept of wearing a diaper, sorry, pad, was horrifying. To make it even better, I was one of the few girls to have breasts, which meant that the guys in my class would tell me “you need to start wearing a bra,” which I had been wearing for almost two years. They would ask me what those little red spots on my face were. The horrible cramps that left me crying in pain on the lunch room floor were not so nonchalant either. I could not hide it and I was embarrassed.

Today I should not feel embarrassed while doing research for this very article at Whole Foods. I should not be terrified by the idea of a Diva-Cup or a reusable pad. Actually, the reusable pad still sounds pretty gross to me but that is simply because I have to wonder how clean those can actually get.

There is a reason I bought U by Kotex products for a while, not because they were the best ones on the market for me, but instead because their commercials were so true to life. They were real women not ashamed by their bodies who were ok with talking about periods. They were not perfect models dancing around in white spandex (a disaster waiting to happen).

This is not some feminist agenda, though it would probably be a relatively effective one if it were. I am simply trying to shed light on a subject that gets buried in the back of health books, gets discussed at a minimum, and leaves young girls who have every resource available to them, turning to Google. If we can not get informed answers from our mothers and sisters, and if we cannot go to the doctor every time something is new, maybe that means society should be just as informed about periods as we are about the common cold or chapped lips.

I had a problem talking about my period for a long time, and it is still not something I tell the world as soon as it happens, but it is something that needs to be talked about. Everything we think we know about periods may not be true. We can’t lose our virginity to tampons, being on birth control does not make you a slut (it doesn’t even mean you are sexually active), cramps happen but lying on the floor dying every month isn’t normal, periods do not al- ways get more regular, nobody actually thinks it is a gift from Mother Nature (if it was, I would not invite her to my parties anymore). Periods are just periods. (period).

At the end of the day, a period is not some disease that is so devastating to the point we should not even mention its name (cancer); it is everyday life. That moment of buying tampons in front of my principal eventually made me see the idiocy in my shame, because I was just buying a necessity.

People are not embarrassed to run into their boss or their crush, or even their principal buying a box of kleenex and a container of mucinex, so why are we so embarrassed to walk out of a store with a box of tampons and a container of Advil? Only one of those implies you have something contagious anyway.