My periods started when I was 13 years old and for years, I used Always pads because try as they might, StayFree didn’t have the holding capacity as Always. My periods are quite heavy day 2 and 3 and so Always worked better. This was despite the fact that after my periods ended, I had to apply some form of ointment because of the rashes that I would get. I felt like this only happened to me as some form of allergy or sensitivity. I am allergic to a couple of things and so I added this to the list. I never even thought to talk to my friends or siblings about this. I carried it as a personal thing because periods weren’t something you talked about. There was shame surrounding talking about periods, buying pads etc – even with fellow girls.
It is more interesting because when I went to the US, I didn’t have the reactions to the pads there but when I moved back it happened and before I moved to Kotex (although tbh I used Always every so often), I still felt like maybe it was a “sensitivity”. Not for one second did I think that Proctor & Gamble using plastic to make these things that were bad for our vaginas.
Last week, as the issues surrounding pads sold in Africa were discussed on Twitter, it became clear how shame silences us. How things that happen(ed) to MANY, MANY women are not discussed. Honestly, it was a revelation to me about the things we can talk about OUT LOUD and what we can’t. Periods, despite being a biological thing, is something that women carry with shame. And silently. If you even mention that you are on your periods, some people look at you as if you’ve said something sinister.
How do we learn how to be silent about such things? Who benefits from our silence? How different would life be if we weren’t silent about things in our lives? Will there be consequences?
PS: Capitalism is a scourge
PPS: Don’t try sell tampons to me, for reasons – I can’t use them.
PPPS: As much as you would want to stay away from twitter, conversations find their way to other social media spaces.