PERIODS ARE COMPLICATED, UNCOMFORTABLE AND INDIVIDUAL - LET'S RESPECT THAT
Period shaming. Why are we still doing it? I think every menstruating person out there has probably dealt with a particularly nasty cycle at least once in their lives and some of us deal with crippling pain, heavy blood flow and emotional upset every single month. So I find it unfathomable that, riding our wave of eco-friendly activism, we’re still okay to shame each other about what type of period products we chose to use. Yes, some are clearly better for the planet than others, there’s the equivalent of 5 plastic bags in one pack of sanitary pads, but ultimately I believe that if you choose to use a reusable tampon applicator, as I do, that you shouldn’t be shamed for doing as much for the planet as you feel comfortable.
Much like some Vegans get a bad rap for being extreme activists and giving the whole Vegan movement a ‘bad name’ I feel the same about menstrual cup pushers that fail to acknowledge that we all deserve to choose how we experience our periods, because frankly, most of the time having a period is an utter inconvenience, painful, emotionally draining, messy and complicated.
80% of women have flushed a period product and there are 9 applicators found per kilometre of beach in the UK.
I’ve tried a menstrual cup, several different types and shapes in fact, and the result from my body is a resounding ‘no.’ I don’t want to be told that I haven’t tried hard enough, because I have, and so I’m happy that I can still experience my period in a more environmentally friendly and comfortable way with a reusable tampon applicator that means I never have to throw away an applicator ever again which, when there’s 9 applicators for every kilometre of beach in the UK, is a very good thing. Sure I could use my finger, but the vagina is one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies and I personally find pushing a wad of absorbent cotton into it on a very regular basis uncomfortable and sore. I was really struck by something I read recently in Maisie Hill’s book, Period Power:
‘Our hesitancy to put a finger or two inside ourselves is really no surprise: most of us have been raised by the powers that be to believe that vaginas are dirty, and that we’re sexual deviants if we touch ourselves - this is the real reason behind tampon applicators’
She’s right, of course, we do have a weird hang up about touching ourselves. However I don’t agree that it’s the real reason for tampon applicators, in fact there are some countries where they don’t use them at all - not because women necessarily choose not to, but because they aren’t even on sale to buy. Australia and some Scandinavian countries simply just don’t sell them. In stark contrast to this, one American blogger, called HousewifeDownUnder, wrote in a blog post: “Tampons without applicators are just a no-go...it is so beyond disgusting that it doesn’t even bear thinking of.” Well, I’d argue that the female body is anything but disgusting but at the same time it highlights how influenced we are by the culture we grow up in and we shouldn’t be blamed for that or called bad feminists. The important thing here is to accept the different ways in which we all choose to experience our periods.
THE WAY YOU EXPERIENCE YOUR PERIOD IS YOUR CHOICE
A growing number of us are turning to more sustainable period products these days which often involve a more hands-on approach to menstruation, and if you do want to save the planet but you’re not ready for a moon cup yet, hell, you might still be using sanitary pads - that is okay too. The emphasis should be on a more environmentally friendly approach to periods but still firmly centred around giving women a choice. There’s a reason tampons were invented and there’s a reason we’re still using them - they’re practical and they allow us to make our cycles work for us rather than being controlled by them. Perhaps they were invented because periods were seen as dirty, but I think the real reason they continue to be such a positive option for so many women is because they give us an element of control and freedom.
Can we all stop judging and be left to bleed in peace? And let’s rejoice at the fact that there are now more sustainable options that help our planet but also allow us to stick to what we know without feeling ashamed or out of our comfort zone.
HERE'S A SIMPLE, STRESS-FREE GUIDE TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE PERIOD