I hate the way that our society talks about periods. I hate that all of the connotations are nasty, that they are seen as 'disgusting'. I hate that us women are giving such a hard time when we're 'on', for being grumpy and scary and that when one of the most natural things in the world does happen to a girl, she is described as being 'on the blob'. I hate that we are made to feel embarrassed about them.
In recent months, the conversation was forced into the limelight during the tampon tax discussions which saw women banishing sanitary products and openly showing their period stains to raise awareness, which of course, was sadly met with cries of disgust from both men AND women, (really girls?!), who were claiming that this was a private issue and that we don't need to be 'gross' to prove a point. (Ironically of course, their reaction showed why these actions WERE quite so important, but that's neither here nor there...)
Following the initial hype though, as with all of these things, the conversation died down and we were left pretty much where we started. We are still paying extortionate amounts of money every month and feeling ever so slightly embarrassed as we do so.
Take last night for example, I was in my local supermarket with my boyfriend when I remembered in the queue that I needed more cotton pads, I turned around to the isle behind me and went to pull what I *thought* were cotton pads off the shelf and said really loudly to the whole shop "God, you don't even know how badly I need these". before realising that they were in fact not cotton pads, but maxi pads. Stupidly embarrassed I hastily rammed them back onto the shelf and made a whole scene about how I had made a mistake and that I REALLY didn't need maxi pads. Why? What's wrong with really needing them? Nothing. I was really disappointed with myself.
But then this morning I saw something that I was really encouraged by. Zoella had uploaded a video entitled 'Periods and One Direction' in which she talked incredibly openly about her first period; how when it first happened she had thought that she was just 'sweaty' and how she had bled onto her chair at school. She wasn't even embarrassed . How awesome is that? 10 million subscribers. 1.5 million views on the video so far. And skimming through the comments, I couldn't find one nasty one. This bodes well...
This also comes on the back of my discovery of DiaryDoll , which are, I hope, another nail in the coffin for this incredibly tiresome taboo that we are still dealing with. Basically they're awesome, they're pretty, normal pants that are made with a water-poof, concealed layer that you can't see or notice, the idea being that they will prevent any leakage for either a heavy period or a weak bladder. How no one has come up with them yet I don't know and I really can't recommend them highly enough. (I'm leading by example and have mine proudly in the pant draw). But the reason I love them so much isn't even the product itself, but the people behind the brand.
TV presenter Carol Smillie and British Tennis Player (former world number one) Annabel Croft both have teenage daughters and designed the product initially for young women who might be nervous about heavy periods whilst at school. playing sports and at sleepovers. (Let's face it, that' was ALL of us...). Isn't that great? Mums seeing what their daughters are going through and thinking 'shit, this really sucks for them. Maybe we can do something to help...' Sure, girls have their periods explained to them, so much as we know how to exploit it when we don't want to go swimming, but generally speaking we are rather left in the dark about something that really is quite unpleasant. I used to be MORTIFIED if I 'leaked' at school and don't think I even felt brave enough to ask anyone to borrow a tampon until I was about 17. Periods are crap, but made considerably worse by the fact that we don't talk about them, EVER. We struggle with it silently, scared shitless of judgement from the others, in case, god-forbid, our vagina is doing something a tiny bit different to the one attached to the girl next to you and we are exposed in all of our bloody-glory. (Sorry not sorry, this is the kind of talk you NEED to be okay with if we're going to beat this thing!) So to see women proactively knocking down this barrier? Fabulous.
Yet despite the fab idea, and the fact that they have sold more than 35,000 pairs so far, Carol says "we underestimated the level of taboo that still sits around this whole topic. The launch into Boots is a huge deal for us- it's a big step towards getting this sensitive but very common problem out in the open and getting more people talking about it."
I sadly was not surprised by the taboo and the reaction that they were met with, having seen first hand what happens if I drop the 'p-bomb' in front of my boyfriend or my brother or leave any tampons lying around.
So it seems we still have a long way to go, but I just wanted to put these pants on your radar because a) if you do have a heavy period or suffer with a weak bladder, then these are stupidly useful and b) because it seems that the winds of change are finally blowing and we've got these women to thank for it. Always have always (lol) been a great brand for stamping out the taboo and bringing girls the confidence to do anything and it's great to see another company standing up and making a difference, so thank you DiaryDoll.
Here's to a future where we can be rewarded for our bravery and amazingness that we have the ability to bleed for 5 days without dying. Here's to a future where we don't need to hide our tampons out of sight for fear of being judged, where you can say 'period' in front of a man and he won't run away, where 'leaking' is acknowledged and accepted as a pain in the arse but totally and utterly fine. Here is to a future where we don't find ourselves feeling ashamed for picking up the maxi pads instead of the cotton ones.