What Having Your Period Was Like Over The Past 100 Years

In most states,tampons are taxed and Viagra is not.


What I remember most about the first year I started my period was the shame.

I was teased by other girls for wearing pads instead of tampons, and, once I switched over to tampons, I was teased by my male classmates for carrying them in my backpack.

Instead of celebrating the fact that I could now potentially grow, house and bring a new human into the world (not that I wanted to), I felt the overwhelming need to hide it.

I became a pro at sneaking my tampon out of my bag and into my pocket without being seen. In the locker room, I would change in a stall to avoid the ridicule for still wearing a pad.

Even though I had two supportive older sisters and a very open, overly empathetic mother, it took me until my mid-20s to finally become comfortable talking about it with others.

I know many women who have experiencedthe same intense period shame that I did growing up. Eventhough more than half of the USspopulation is female, the topic of menstruation is still often seen as taboo.

Last fall, Thinx, an underwear company that produces period-proof panties,caused quite a public stir when its ads, whichdepicted women in underwear next to metaphorical images like a cracked egg and a grapefruit,were placed in the New York City subways.

The ads complied with the MTAs guidelines, but the company that manages the MTAs advertising was still outraged by the pictures, especially the use of the word period within the ads.

Historically, advertising for (let alone talking about) periods has been looked down upon. Because of that, there is a severe lack of information and documentation about what products women used fortheir periods in the past.

But the information that is out there about the methods and evolving attitudes toward menstruation, specifically in the US, is quite interesting.

Contrary to what many may think, the first commercially available tampon came out in the 1930s. Most women refused to use a tampon, however, because they believed it could devirginize them or cause immoral pleasure.

Today, manywomen around the globe still lack access to modern menstrual products. And, in the US, most states have aluxury tax on feminine hygiene products, while products like Rogaine and Viagra are not taxed.

For women who are in financial need, sanitary products are not covered by food stamps.

In an attempt to help banish the taboo surrounding periods and to shed light on how American women have dealt with their periods in the past, weve collected the different methods that were used in each decade, as well as the common cultural attitudes held toward menstruation.

Watch the video aboveto get a little more insight into the history of periods.

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