Since early summer of 2015, a movement has begun to strip away the negative stigma surrounding tampons and other women’s hygienic products used for menstruation.
There are a number of euphemisms we use instead of saying we are on our period. We constantly feel as though we need to hide them from public sight, particularly from males, and always quietly ask a fellow woman to borrow a tampon instead of expressing our personal need to the whole group.
The international children’s charity, Plan UK, has had enough. They started a social media campaign asking people to take a selfie with sanitary products alongside the hashtag #JustATampon “to mark the International Tampon Alert Day, and to raise worldwide gender inequality.” Many of their captions remind us that it is just a tampon – some cotton and string and nothing more.
You can text TAMPON to 70007 to donate £3 to Plan UK, and share your support on Facebook and Twitter with #JustATampon. Your donation provides sanitary towels for a girl in Uganda for an entire year.
Millions of girls face discrimination just for being girls. Poor access to quality menstrual health and hygienic products is one way that highlights this, with girls unable to attend school when they have their period.
In addition, the movement wants to break down the many taboos surrounding this conversation. There is a wealth of embarrassment surrounding a monthly aspect of every woman’s life. This video by VPoint illuminates how we still sometimes turn a blind idea to the concept, making it cringe-worthy and the “embarrassing” taboo of dropping tampons in public.
The stigma still exists. It’s one way women around the world are discriminated against, and it’s so ingrained into society that often most of us forget that it’s innately oppressing us. Women still have a hard time talking about periods to one another, preferring to keep that aspect of their lives as private as possible. The phenomenon is so hush-hush that makes both men and women uncomfortable, particularly in public settings.
Continuing these public conversations, in person and through social media, has the opportunity to lift the taboos placed upon menstruation and allow women to be less embarrassed and society more open to dropping the negative stigma.
Tampons change lives, particularly for women and girls in developing countries without the same access as we do (with an entire aisle of tampons and pads of all colors and sizes and brands). Only 12% of girls and women around the world have access to sanitary products; that is exceptionally low. Plan UK and other organizations are working with different countries to come up with the most sustainable methods to help support girls during their menstrual cycle.
Let’s change that statistic and talk about our periods.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.