I was 12 years old when I started my periods and I remember vividly the embarrassment of buying sanitary towels from the only place within walking distance – one of of those corner shop type places that sold random brands of crisps you’d never heard of out of cardboard boxes and ‘Happy Shopper’ washing up liquid.
Suffice to say I was NOT a happy shopper.
It was the very early 90s, and I’m not sure that sanitary products were quite as advanced as they are now. My cornershop definitely didn’t stock anything with a silky soft finish, or wings, or a lockaway core. They sold pads in packs of ten that were roughly the size and shape of a rolled up tea towel. The insides were basically cotton wool, so they immediately clumped in a very uncomfortable and inefficient fashion.
There was no rollerblading going on when you had one of those beasts wedged in your pants, that’s for sure.
Wearing them to school was horrendous, and there was always the worry that your period would start when you weren’t expecting it, that you’d end up with blood on your clothes, or worst still, that someone would be able to SMELL you. Was that a thing when you were in school?? I felt kind of RIPE when I had my period, like everyone would be able to smell the metal tang of blood in the air as I walked through the corridors.
Things have come a long way of course, but that embarrassment, that period shame, still lingers.
According to recent research in fact, 71% of girls in the UK have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products, and a further 67% would feel embarrassed if they found period blood on their clothes.
That’s not cool is it? Do you feel shame or embarrassment attached to your period? Do you know ho the young women in your life feel about theirs? It’s not okay that periods are viewed like this.
It’s LIFE. It’s what happens. WE ALL BLEED. Get over it.
This International Day of the Girl, Plan International UK wants to tackle the stigma and bring the issue to centre stage with Plaster Pads: miniature sanitary pads that are worn like plasters for all the world to see.
Plan International UK are distributing boxes of ‘Plaster Pads’, printed with slogans that highlight the need to remove the stigma around blood; after all, blood is blood.
What do you think of the idea? Is it something we need to be much more open about and how can we go further to challenge the stigma? Would you happily wear a Plaster Pad?
Find out more about the We All Bleed campaign here, and check out the hashtag #weallbleed too.