Men and women are taking selfies with tampons to remove the stigma surrounding periods.
Surfing the crimson wave? Got the painters and decorators in? Flo come to town? Communists in your fun house? Women’s troubles?
Or, are you simply on your period?
There are countless euphemisms for menstruation – God forbid we actually utter the words.
A colleague of mine once took a day of sick leave and on her return when I asked what was wrong she said in hushed tones: ‘It sounds so silly but it was my period – I get awful pains and nausea.’ It didn’t sound silly to me at all.
One of my male friends often claimed he had a ‘phobia’ of periods, pressing his hands against his ears the second anyone mentioned them.
In Sex and the City, when Carrie dropped her clutch bag and tampons fell out, she was utterly mortified.
But why is there still such a taboo surrounding periods? After all, half of us get them every 21 days – that’s approximately 800million women between the ages of 15-49 menstruating each day.
That means that right at this moment millions of women are curling up on the sofa ordering excessive amounts of Chinese takeaway and crying at a John Lewis advert (just me?) while others are stuffing tampons up their sleeves and sneaking off to the ladies, or twisting in the mirror to make sure no unexpected leakages have occurred during their commute.
Alongside these awkward moments periods are quite pricey, too. Sanitary products were taxed at 17.5% in 1973 because they were considered ‘non-essential items’.
The tax was reduced to 5% in 2001 but if you ask us, that’s still 5% too high. Sure, it only amounts to £3 per year in our average yearly spend of £60 on sanitary products (as cited in this Telegraph article) but the real issue here is that this is a women-only tax. It’s nothing if not discriminatory. And what could possibly be deemed ‘non-essential’ about tampons?
In less economically developed countries the cost of having your period can be a serious problem.
In Uganda, for example, tampons are rare and pricey and many girls use rags which are not only uncomfortable but can be completely ineffective – resulting in leakages and even infections. Many girls have to take a few days off from school every month to avoid the shame and risk, which means they often lag behind on their work.
International children’s charity, Plan UK, and news site, V Point have had enough. They’ve teamed up to launch the ‘Just A Tampon’ campaign. The campaign aims to break down ‘the stigma and embarrassment attached to women’s periods (that) contributes to gender inequality worldwide.’
In order to participate in the campaign, Plan UK and V Point are asking people to take a selfie with a tampon and post it using the hashtag #JustATampon, in the hope of starting a conversation about menstruation.
So far, celebrities including Channel 4 News presenters Cathy Newman and Jon Snow, comedian, Jenny Éclair and author, Kathy Lette, have posted pictures in support of the campaign.
Plan UK is asking supporters to text TAMPON 70007 to donate £3.
‘Donations will help tackle discrimination faced by girls globally, not just around menstrual hygiene but other issues they face including child marriage and female genital mutilation,’ says Plan UK.
The charity is working to introduce reusable pads to countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and India and teach girls about menstrual hygiene.
Kathy Lette, author and Plan UK ambassador has said: ‘Millions of girls around the world are discriminated against just for having ovaries. Why is it acceptable that a girl risks being bullied or missing school just for having her period?’
We’re not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops but go on, take a selfie and donate – don’t be embarassed.
I mean, really, it’s just a tampon.
Look – we did it, too: