I realized it the other day when I was caught short on the period supplies front and had to buy about three different forms of tampons and sanitary towels at the…oh god help me…..petrol station at the service station in the back of beyond. I desperately hoped and prayed for a female cashier.
Come on, by now, I should have this down. But despite having had periods for well over half my life, I still felt a sense of shame. But the question is…why are women so embarrassed by something so natural, something we all experience, and that is natural part of what stamps as out as women? Something that has been part of our existence on this planet since the dawn of man and woman-kind?
It seems so silly doesn’t it now that I’m putting it down in words in this collaboration exploring the issues surrounding hygiene with SCA and their Hygiene Matters initiative for International Women’s Day?
But I know I’m not the only one who would have felt sheepish in this situation. And that worldwide, a lot of progress needs to be made in terms of matters relating to female hygiene. You only need to take a look at SCA’s Hygiene Matters Report – which explores the taboos around hygiene that exists around the world, including personal and menstrual hygiene – to know that.
And then there are those times when you’re rifling through your bag and a stray tampon makes a leap out..usually in front of a man…who is totally unaware…but you feel like you’d like the whole ground to swallow you up there and then. Would you have felt that way if a pen had performed the same escaping trick? Pah! Absolutely no way!
But it doesn’t stop with periods. There are also the even less talked about feminine hygiene matters of incontinence, which despite being a very real phenomenon affecting one in three women…we all like keeping firmly schtum about.
And it’s not like we get more confident about these things with age – 38% of women over the age of 56 don’t discuss their hygiene needs with anyone. So can you imagine, if the shame we put on ourselves to do with periods is bad enough, imagine the shame those women living with incontinence at a later age experience.
So this International Women’s Day I say enough! It’s time to #boldforchange about women’s hygiene. Enough of feeling ashamed about what our bodies are, or are not doing down there. Let us look at female hygiene as any modern society like ours should – with absolutely no shame, and with a matter-of-factness that feminine hygiene deserves. Because female hygiene matters, but it shouldn’t define us.
What are your views on female hygiene? Do you think there is still a lot of change that needs to happen on this front?
*This post is in collaboration with SCA but all opinions are my own.
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