I am done hiding my tampons. How come, even in a room surrounded by other women, I still act as if I am on a top-secret mission to keep my tampon concealed? Why do I feel the need to slip it into my sleeve and run off to the bathroom like I just committed a crime? Why do most women, including me, keep their period products tucked away in the back of a drawer and hidden? Why should I be ashamed of what my body is naturally doing?
I was curious as to where this stigma began; of keeping your period a secret. For me, I believe it was middle school. When all the students piled into a health class to watch some silly cartoon that explained puberty. The boys were told to wear deodorant and shower daily; which they should have already been doing. Well, the girls learned about their ‘changing bodies’ and periods. The reaction was not taken kindly. I still remember the embarrassment of just being a girl in that room, surrounded by immature boys laughing. From that moment on, if anyone knew about my period, it would have been the end of the world. Not a soul would ever catch me openly carrying a tampon.
Now, almost 7 years later, why do I still have this undeniable shame when reaching into my purse? My tampons have no place being pushed into the back of a drawer, especially when I need them most. Normalizing periods and the stigma around them and their products allows women to feel more comfortable about openly having periods.
Yet, some companies still wanna keep periods “PG”. When turning on the TV, almost all feminine hygiene product commercials use blue liquid to represent a period, when everyone knows blood is red. When Kotex finally made the shift in 2020, becoming the first big feminine product brand to ditch the blue liquid for red. Creative and design director Sarah Paulsen said, “Blood is blood. This is something that every woman has experienced, and there is nothing to hide.” Gaining the Kimberly-Clark Company praise from women nationwide. For a big company like Kotex to make periods more authentic than ever before, women finally felt noticed. It is not a secret that women have periods, we all sat through that same health class I did back in middle school.
Aside from commercials, popularity in social media has allowed for individualized content creators. Anyone, with any opinion, can get on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok to voice their opinions. Thus allowing for topics that can be seen as ‘sensitive’ or ‘gross’ to be openly and proudly discussed. @Sunnyperiod on TikTok is all about period positivity. The team of five women is on a mission to normalize periods, not hide them. They have dozens of uploads educating men and women, well promoting their eco-friendly products. They are advertising their products, well keeping their content information and up to date. Their videos receive thousands of views and dozens of comments. Another creator, @period.harmony on TikTok is a uterus puppet with over a million followers. Using popular sounds and memes to discuss women’s issues. The “Chief Uterus” discusses numerous issues that menstruating women face, including but not limited to, the embarrassment of being on your period in public. And that is just naming two of the thousands of social media influencers utilizing their platforms to discuss topics that might be seen as ‘uncomfortable’.
With the help of normalizing periods, this stigma, that women should keep their ‘time of the month’ to themselves, is enough. At the end of the day having a period is just a regular part of life for any woman. Therefore, my ‘top-secret mission’ has come to an end. Because I will no longer be shoving my tampon up my sleeve on the way to the restroom or leaving my pads hidden in the back of the drawer, and you should not be either. I am proud of who I am, and the things my body is capable of doing.