Leslie Carol Botha: A high school student speaks out on Tampax ad campaign that in her words imply that “women are useless while menstruating.” So does that mean that women have value when they are not menstruating? Or are women useless whether or not they menstruate? Either way – shaming teenage girls about menstruation is shaming them about their bodies and their womanhood. It is a stigma that many women carry for most of their lives.
Societal stigmas against acknowledging menstruation
By Kira Gabriel
In its most recent issue, Seventeen Magazine ran a Tampax Radiant tampon ad that read, “New Tampax Radiant helps keep your period invisible. How you stand out is up to you.” The pseudo-feminist slogan implies that the only thing that can identify a woman on her period is her period. A national magazine that targets teenage girls, run in a country that fights a daily battle for women’s rights, is subtly promoting that women are useless while menstruating, and must therefore hide their periods, which demonstrates how even our progressive country needs to focus in on the menstrual taboo.
In India, it is believed that cooking while menstruating will pollute the food, and that touching idols will defile them. Often times, girls in India drop out of school when they hit puberty because periods are simply too much of a hassle and an embarrassment. In some tribes throughout the world, women are forced to stay in huts for the duration of their period, to keep their “uncleanly” bodies away from everyone else. Leviticus 15:19, which is acknowledged by Christianity and Judaism, says, “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.”
It may not be as obvious or profound, but the same stigma and embarrassment exists in modern Western society. Although the West considers itself to be at the forefront of equality, there is an inherent shame that girls feel about their periods. It is reasonable to assume that every girl in South Pasadena High School has at some point had to covertly ask for a tampon, slip said tampon up her sleeve, and dash off to the nearest bathroom at least once.