Almost every woman (as well as some people who don't identify as women) gets her period at some point or another. And while it can be uncomfortable, painful, or even awkward, no one should ever make someone feel ashamed for what their body does naturally.
...Yet it still happens ALL the time. Women are embarrassed to buy tampons, and are hyper aware of bringing their bags with them to the rest room because ~*everyone will know*~.
Here, 11 women share times that they were made to feel shamed during that time of the month. We think you'll relate.
"As he left, he loudly said, 'It looks like someone's on their period today.'"
"When I taught eighth grade, I had a student who wasn't following directions. I'm unsure of what his exact issue was that day, but he was struggling behaviorally. When I asked him to go to the 'reset room,' an area near the principal's office that allowed students to get themselves together. As he left, he loudly said, 'It looks like someone's on their period today.' Teachers are trained not to react to disrespect. My heart sunk though. I didn't allow him to return to class that day, but I met with him later that afternoon. The school was social-justice oriented, and coincidentally, I was teaching a unit about sexism at the time. I explained to him how his statement exemplified sexism. He apologized and vowed to be more respectful."
— Evette, 27
"Can't you see someone is in the bathroom? Why are you repeatedly trying to open the fucking door?"
"I sit on the toilet... meanwhile, there's someone banging on the door, fiddling with the door handle and trying to get in. ... (Yes, I kept repeating 'OCCUPIED' over and over). At this point, my PMS is kicking in and I'm getting REALLY irritated by this person. Like, can't you see someone is in the bathroom? Why are you repeatedly trying to open the fucking door?"
— Reddit user Faithfulhumanity
"'WHY DO YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR BAG WITH YOU????'"
"How about every time in high school when you went to change your tampon and the teacher goes (in front of the whole class), 'WHY DO YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR BAG WITH YOU????'"
— Bari, 20
"I felt more sympathy when I had the flu than when I got my period."
"I think that the assumption is that period pain isn't 'real' pain. Not all women experience the same types of periods, and therefore not the same type of pain. Since I was 12 I've had really really bad menstrual pain and had to take off of school, activities, etc. At times it was hard to walk or stand, but I'd always been told to just push through it. I honestly felt more sympathy when I had the flu than when I got my period, which was very frustrating. I used to honestly be afraid to have my period because I knew it would interrupt my life so much. Twelve years later it has gotten somewhat better, but I just wish there was more understanding, acceptance and discussion around the topic rather than having to suffer literally in silence."
— Mary, 24
"A tampon fell out of my bag and rolled away..."
"I was in ninth grade English class on the last day of school (so nobody was working, just talking and hanging out). A tampon fell out of my bag and rolled a little ways away. I noticed it just as the resident class clown noticed it and called everyone's attention to it. He was asking every girl nearby whose it was, making everyone feel really awkward. I did not own up to it and just figured I could borrow one from a friend... I've never forgotten that."
— Molly, 29
"The parents even laughed."
"I was in primary school, and the school was holding an [awards] assembly. It was one of my early periods and I didn't know how to tell when it was arriving. My school uniform was blue and white, so of course the blood seeped through my clothes. I was called up to collect my award; the parents even laughed. The teachers eventually knew what was going on and pulled me aside. It was really rude; my mum stepped in, abusing the parents laughing — that shut them up."
— Reddit user BucolicHarvest
"I yelled back, 'I'VE GOT MY FUCKING PERIOD.'"
"My brother thought there was something wrong with me for bleeding so much. He knew girls got periods, but he thought they leaked blue liquid, like in pad commercials.
"Also, a male boss once yelled at me for 'looking depressed' at work because I had cramps, so I yelled back, 'I'VE GOT MY FUCKING PERIOD,' and he scurried away, mortified. That didn't shame me, though it did kinda shame him."
— Alle, 32
"Even into my mid-twenties I always felt awkward buying tampons."
"In the last few years I've made a conscious effort to not feel shamed in the check-out line. Even into my mid-twenties I always felt awkward buying tampons — I would go into the the store with the sole intention of buying tampons, but I'd buy other things so no one would know that was the only thing I really needed, or I'd hide them under other things in my cart, silly things like that. Then one day I realized, 'It's pretty obvious I'm a grown woman and grown women bleed. This should not be shocking news to anyone.' So now whenever I buy tampons I refuse to be embarrassed about it. And I hope that if I'm not embarrassed about it, younger women (and maybe even older women, too) will see it's nothing to be embarrassed about. I've found this small, but conscious shift in thinking has been surprisingly empowering. Now I sometimes hope they need to get over the intercom for a price check!"
— Mary, 28
"He'd say, 'I don't want to feel like I'm stabbing a kitten.'"
"I once dated a guy who refused to have sex with me anytime I was on my period. Even with a condom, even if he and I both wanted to have sex, once he found out it was my time of the month he was like NOPE. Which is fine, but then he'd say things like, 'I don't want to feel like I'm murdering a kitten.' Yes, he actually said this (side note, WTF??). It made me feel like it was my fault that my body was doing something it's supposed to be doing. And this happened every month for the duration of our relationship. I should have dumped him after it happened the first time."
— Mel, 28
"Everyone in the gym could tell I was on my period, but the reaction I got from my coaches (both female) later made it significantly worse."
"At 15, I played on a junior varsity high school team of girls who were significantly older than me and coaches who were not supportive in the slightest, an already alienating experience. But during one away game, a combination of sweat and period blood left a noticeable mark on the gym's VERY white fold-up chairs. Coming off the seat and into the game, I was already mortified knowing that everyone in the gym could tell I was on my period, but the reaction I got from my coaches (both female) later that evening made it significantly worse. They gave me what you would call 'a talking-to,' in hush-hush tones, as if my bodily functions were something to be punished for, rather than comforting me in my embarrassment and assuring me that it was natural. That night, I felt more ashamed of my body than I'd ever felt, regardless of the blatant scrutiny of my body I was already receiving. I took me until adulthood to realize that I had even been period-shamed."
— Nicola, 22
"My teacher didn't want to let me go and tried to 'make an example' of me for taking too many bathroom breaks."
"One time when I was 12 or 13 I went to the bathroom [at school], changed my pad, came back and realized 20 minutes later I needed to change it again. My teacher didn't want to let me go and tried to 'make an example' of me for taking too many bathroom breaks. He let me go. And I had to take my backpack both times since girls' pants have no pockets. Everyone knew. Except apparently that jackass teacher."
— Reddit user Waffles-McGee