Thursday, October 23, 2008


To my male readers: stop reading this post now. It's about women things that you have no interest in or desire to know anything about. Move on to the next post.

Ok, ladies, now that it's just us, there's something I just have to get off my chest. Be forewarned -- I'm about to share lots of personal thoughts on feminine hygiene. My mother has generally been a wonderful mother, raising me well, devoting her time and energy to me, etc. But she failed me in one big way. She raised me to be afraid of tampons.

Mom grew up in an era when tampons were not commonly used. She thought beltless maxi pads were an amazing revolution. Soon after I was born in the early 70s, she had a hysterectomy. So when tampons became a really big thing in the 70s, she had no need for them and thus no first-hand experience with them. But she did hear all about the Toxic Shock scare. I think she even knew someone who had become really sick from TSS.

So Mom thought tampons were really bad. When I started having my period, she bought me maxi pads and only maxi pads. Tampons were verbotten. And being a teenager, I was terrified to try something as scary as the TSS sticks without the help of an experienced user. So I stuck with pads. Thankfully, the ultraslim ones came out when I was still a teenager! But I always hated my period. I hated the smell. I hated the mess. I hated having to be so careful about what clothes I wore. I hated having to be careful about how I sat, what activities I took part in, and how I stood up. I hated that I had to carry a purse or a bag because you couldn't discreetly carry a pad around in your pocket. I never got a good night's sleep because I had to sleep in an unnatural position for me to prevent leakage. And I hated feeling like I was wearing a diaper. I was just always completely miserable for 4 or 5 days.

I finally broke free from the chains of my mother's tampon phobia when I was 25 and getting ready to go to law school. If I was going to be just like Ally McBeal, surely I had to liberate myself from my maxi pad prison. Ally never seemed as abjectly miserable as I did and she wore such fabulous suits that I wouldn't be able to wear if I stuck with pads. So I decided I was a big girl now and could figure out how to use a damn tampon. I made the switch and I have never looked back. Turns out I should never have been forced to be a pad user. I am a tampon girl through and through.

Now I hardly notice my period. I'm aware of it, of course, but the only real impact it has on me anymore is in my sex life. And cramps, but I can live with those. I never feel smelly or messy or gross. I wear whatever I want. I run or lift weights. I go anywhere because those little tampons fit in most any pocket.

I hate to admit it, but I feel a little bit of resentment towards my mother. I didn't have to hate that one week each month. I didn't have to feel awkward and smelly and disgusting. I know she meant well and just didn't want me to be unhealthy, but damn, maybe I would have grown into my self-confidence a little earlier if I had felt really free to find my own feminine hygiene comfort zone instead of being relegated to my mom's.

And, yes, I know if this is the worst thing I can say about my mom, I got pretty lucky in the mom department!


Meryl said...

My Mom steered me toward pads too. More because I think she thought the idea of sticking something in your vagina was "icky". I branched out on my own pretty early in high school, but I can remember sitting by the side of the pool in my swimsuit (with shorts) trying to come up with excuses as to why I didn't want to swim.

Tampons are the bomb.

S said...

Yea, I think my mom has some vagina issues. I do not. I wish I could liberate my older sister, but sadly, I think her vagina issues are worse than my mom's.

Stacy said...


I like this post. It's funny.

I used pads the first time (maybe the second) but than me and the instructions in the playtex box met and met and tampex have been pretty close ever since.

There is no WAY I could have lived with pads. I can't believe they still sell them. It seems barbaric.

Miss Conduct PDX said...

Two words for you, "Diva Cup."

Seriously. The BOMB!

S said...

I really should try that. Since I already use applicator-free tampons, dealing with a cup shouldn't be too weird for me. And I really like the environmental benefit which is why I started using ob -- though having had to use the odd applicator tampon, I can honestly say I prefer ob. I do not like applicators at all.

Erin said...

Now these are the greatest invention known to woman-kind. I see somebody beat me to it.

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