Ms ZiYou Tampons

Why do I hide the tampons??

So here is a question. In your bathroom at home, do you have toilet roll clearly visible? What about tampons (or other sanitary products)?

Are they publically displayed and easily accessible as the toilet roll? Why or why not? Why are some hygiene products more socially acceptable to display?

Yes, we are going there – tampons, tampons, tampons

It’s time to talk about tampons folks. And I’m not even going to go into the tampon tax, yet another relic of our patriarchal system. Which reminds me of the beauty tax.

Back to the present, sometimes I get puzzled about ingrained attitudes I have that seem at odds with my current uber socially liberal feminist values, such as that piece on the beauty tax. So today I want to explore just one of them – and it’s not my regression to shaving my legs last week (sorry financial mechanic I keep doing it), but tampons and menstruation.

I hide the tampons – even in my bathroom

Ms ZIYou Bathroom

Now my bathroom is awesome, even if I have to say so myself. I have a roll-top bath that oozes old school charm and offers lovely deep warm bubble baths. The retro tiling sets this off and lets you think you are in a 1930s art deco hotel. Why am I telling you this?

I want to set the scene, mainly so you are under no impression this is a normal bathroom. Or that I’ve not had an opportunity to personalise it. This is a ‘me’ bathroom. Designed and styled by none other than yours truly.

But ….. I hide the tampons. In my own house.

And I live alone

Well apart from the cat. And he doesn’t really have too many feelings about tampons to be fair. He’s far more interested in feeding time and snuggling up on the sofa. So I have nobody else’s opinions or feelings or prejudices to consider or influence me.

So here I am, living alone yet there are no tampons to be seen or easily accessible. They are hidden away in a bedroom drawer. Yet I have the toilet roll beside the toilet and quickly available. I’ve chosen to hide the sanitary products, in effect making my life more difficult. Hence certain times of the month I need to take a detour before visiting the bathroom.

But, erm why? Is this something I’ve learned or been taught to do? Which I can’t remember, but it must be a childhood habit that’s been drummed into me.

I’m meant to be a feminist

Speaking of childhood, doing the tampon in sleeve manoeuvre (as demonstrated above) at school led to an adulthood of doing the same at work.  Similar to above, erm why?

I have been indoctrinated. I behave as if I believe periods are ‘naughty’ and ‘rude’ and must be hidden at all costs. Yet I rationally know this is not true and am happy to have open and honest discussions about them. But I realise this is all in the abstract rather than in practical terms. I’m happy to discuss periods but not that I am menstruating today and need to change my tampon.

Although I can’t determine exactly where I picked this habit up from exactly I’m going to guess. A mixture of my parents who weren’t exactly natural talking periods and a school with a similar mindset? And then going through life where this hiding the fact I was menstruating became the norm? Going forwards it’s easy to see how it becomes a habit.

Damn I have societal biases

I’ve been a card-carrying feminist for as long as I can remember. I never usually fail to call out gender-based injustices. Yet I’ve subjected myself to a lifetime of hiding sanitary products and pretending my menstruation does not exist. And yes, realising this makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I really should have known and done better.

I have fallen for the social convention that periods and menstruation should be hidden. And never spoken about in company. But I want to change that, as we have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It’s all-natural and healthy folks.

Hence this post about menstruation

Why not? We talk about everything else here. As the de facto writer, editor and publisher I get to pick the subjects covered. And what better feminist topic to deconstruct my learned behaviours.

Despite knowing that this behaviour hurts women I still do it. I know that making women’s lives harder by making menstruation something to be hidden is regressive in society. It hurts women’s mobility and freedom, two things I care deeply about.

I’ve stumbled across this instance where my behaviours don’t match my values and I don’t like it. The fraud warning signs are flashing and I feel guilty as charged. I need to do better.

Will I move the tampons?

So after this post, will I make changes? Will there be a pretty tampon bowl proudly laid out in my bathroom?

And after my feminist guilt has reduced, will my environment guilt come in? Is it time to also look at moving to reusables such as washable pads or pants or silicon cups?

Now to conclude in a fun manner. I have to say wow, there are so many amazing tampon gifs out there. I have only managed to share a few of them with you today. But have bookmarked many more for future use.

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Where do you keep the tampons?
  • Are you influenced by society to hide menstruation?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

26 comments on “Why do I hide the tampons??

  1. Interesting discussion. I’ve been to some houses where boxes of hygiene pads for women were out in the bathroom and it was strangely unsettling the first time – and I reflected a little on my own reaction. I think it was chiefly the unfamiliarity. My missus tends to put hers away but not always, and given almost every other bathroom surface is crowded by her other beauty products that may be in part practical. I can also recall all kinds of toilet roll covers in bygone days so there may be a fashion element.

    There’s probably a PhD thesis in what’s socially acceptable to have on display in bathrooms in different cultures.

    A number of my female friends swear by menstrual cups although it can take a bit of time to get used to them.

    Think I must of missed your beauty tax post, but on a related note I’ve recently discovered that when it comes to second hand tech – “feminine” colours are cheaper. My new/secondhand Macbook is “rose gold” or a kind of silvery pink. It was about £150 cheaper than the other colours and it certainly attracts the odd comment. Probably doesn’t help that my secondhand Apple Watch matches it (also much cheaper than other colours).

    1. Hi Greencat – oh yeah, I remember those toilet roll covers too! Bathroom fashion and sensibilities have changed a lot over the year! And yes, it could be a great anthological PhD topic!

      Your rose gold macbook sounds lovely – I also get the unpopular colours that are reduced -it’s a fabulous strategy.

  2. my brother locked himself in the bathroom the other day and had to break a window to escape – he lives alone!
    the shame or other emotions around tampons would seem to be a deep deep problem – what’s socially acceptable and why does it matter?

    If you do plan to leave out your tampons from now on will you be storing your cheap tampons in a luxury/premium tampon box?
    A bit like someone using a Moet ice bucket to chill their Lidl bought prosecco – all for show and no one will know. 🙂

    1. See I’m paranoid about locking myself out but never of locking myself in! And my bathrooms don’t have real locks, so you never get locked in.

      And yes, that is a good question – store in real packaging or something prettier? I’d never upbrand the packing, but could use something decorative.

      And Lidl prosecco is ace. I prefer it to Champagne.

  3. Hi Ms ZiYou, I no longer use tampons (I have an IUD, best invention *ever*!!!!! 😛) but when I did, I would stash them in a cupboard along with the surplus toothbrushes, shampoos, body lotions etc – i.e. they were not hidden but they were not super prominent either. I never thought of why I put them away, but I think it’s because I never had much counter-space and since you only use them once a month… I would take them out of the cupboard and leave them out in the open during my period though. And I really enjoy using words like tampons/period/vagina around men I’ve started to date. This may be unfair of me, but my personal take is if they squirm, they’re sexist and need to GO 😊

  4. Hah, love the tampon gifs!

    Some years ago, Lil-lets were selling their tampons in a rather useful cardboard tub with lid. Since then, I’ve used it for my tampons and the tub is within easy reach and on display in my bathroom (with visible brand name on it). Before then, they were just kept in the cupboard in the bathroom – I wasn’t particularly hiding them, I just didn’t have a suitable container for them!

    With a lot of women in the family, periods were often discussed in our household but I first learned from my older sister who painted a horrific nightmare of women gushing with blood, on the verge of bleeding to death! Thankfully, I found out this wasn’t true later at school – phew!

    Throughout uni, sharing a house with a bunch of women, again periods were just discussed as a normal conversational topic. With guys however, ‘time of the month’ was mentioned only when a woman was a bit moody/grumpy or to describe a woman not available for sex at the time. Or with relief that a woman wasn’t pregnant.

    I recall a time when I used to pile my shopping on top of my tampons in the supermarket, even though of course, the guy on the till would be scanning it in – what was I thinking?! Obviously don’t do that any more but I don’t know when I stopped being self-conscious about them.

    I do still find myself secreting a tampon up my sleeve at work (when I wear long sleeves) yet seem to be ok just holding it in my hand when I’m wearing short sleeves but I guess old habits are hard to break!

    1. Hi Weenie – thanks for sharing. And it certainly makes sense growing up with lots of sisters periods would just be part of normal conversation.

      And I so approve of your lilets cardboard box on open display – the way it should be.

  5. Cloth pads, and I keep them in the cabinet while not on my period, but they get pulled out and sit out in the open when I need them (as does my cloth toilet paper).

    But I’m also the girl who waved a tampon in front of my make high school teacher’s face when I needed to go to the bathroom and he didn’t want to let me at that moment, so it’s nothing new for me 😜

  6. I keep my tampons in the bathroom cupboard, but then most other things are in there too. The empty box will sit out for weeks until I get round to taking it downstairs. I’ve always talked quite openly to by boys about my period as I think it’s important they realise it’s a natural thing. I used to feel a bit embarrassed buying them, but not any more. I guess after close to 40 years of using them they’re just a natural part of my life. I’m not sure I’d be advertising to the guys at work that I was on my period though. Maybe I’m not quite as open as I think I am.

    1. Hi SS – thanks for commenting and sharing. And that’s great that you are raising your boys to feel that they are a natural part of life then we should talk about openly.

  7. I haven’t used tampons for years as I have switched to silicone cups. I can highly recommend them!
    -Easy to use,
    -environment friendly
    -much more comfortable to wear
    -and frugal!
    Look at all the money you spend on tampons over the years, and we put this plastic into our bodies (yes tampons are not 100% cotton) and then throw them away after a few hours. The silicone cups are boiled for desinfection after your period and can be reused for years. I have a few friends who have switched to silicone cups and have not regretted it.
    I combine the cups with cotton panty liners.

  8. Can I let you know something about tampons (of course I can)? They are a GREAT place to hide boatloads of cash. As a musician, I was often paid in cash and I knew where no one would look if they broke in. This is just a plus to being discreet about them if you are still on the fence.

    Of course, I just went and put this on the internet, so I better think of something else no one would go near…

    Btw – I love the environmental concerns. I’ve been wondering about this myself but never hear anyone else touch on it.

  9. This is so interesting. When I lived alone my tampons stayed out and weren’t tidied away for visitors. Then me and my non-period partner moved to a new place and the tampons in the main bathroom lived in a cupboard. I don’t even remember thinking about it. BUT, in the standalone loo downstairs that I use but my partner tends not to (preferring to take the stairs to the fancier bathroom), the tampons sit out. I’ve never thought about it before. Hmmm.

    I don’t see me carrying tampons at work though, it’d be like announcing that you’ll be a while in the loo because of constipation. A normal enough event, but still not colleague-information. I’m less bothered outside of work.

  10. This is so interesting! I live with my (also cis female) partner, and I don’t think it ever occurred to either of us to not have pads out in the open in our bathroom. I’m slowly switching to reusable pads now, and those stay in the closet with the rest of my underwear (just feels dusty to have them out between periods), but single-use products are on full display. My mother was the same when she was still menstruating, and she is overall quite prudish; clearly that doesn’t extend to periods for her for some reason?

    I also have single pads in probably every bag I own. I’m too scatterbrained to remember to pack them when I’m on my period, so spreading them across all bags saved my life a lot over the years.

    1. Thanks for sharing Marta – it is really interesting to hear what everyone’s normal is – and I love your mothers openness. And yes, I have lose products in all my bags too – just in case!

What do you think?