Written by Hope Dymond & Belle Browe
Seniors at Common Ground High School
The two of us were in our Senior Social Justice Experience class one day. We sit next to each other, and Belle had brought in a mug with an interesting sock cozy around it. I was on my period, so I pulled a pad from my backpack and got up to go to the bathroom. We were joking about something, and before I went out the door I put the pad up to her mug as if it was the cozy.
When I got back to class we were still laughing, because that’s just how we are. We build on these bizarre ideas with each other, and soon we were scheming and giggling about a teabag in the shape of a tampon; with the little string and everything.
Of course it had to be called the TeaPon!
Had anyone ever thought of this ludicrous idea? We looked it up. And that’s when it happened.
We started to find articles on tampon advertising, and then “tampon taboos”. What was that? Using the research database that was supposed to help us find articles for our SSJE research paper, we discovered studies titled “Menstruation Discrimination,” “Period Power,” and “It’s about Bloody Time.” We created a Google Document to compile all this new information. What was going on here? We were still laughing at our funny little Teapons, but we knew we were onto something.
Why don’t women talk freely about their periods?
For the rest of the week we continued this research. Each time one of us would find something crazy and compelling we would immediately tell the other. We began to become aware of an issue we had never even thought existed. Why don’t women talk freely about their periods? Why have I felt the need to hide my pads in my sleeve or my pocket for the past four years? Why, when I’m talking about my period with my mom of all people, do we still feel the need to use a euphemism like “my friend is visiting?”
When we looked into the struggles girls and women face in other cultures, it got even crazier. We laughed at the lists of restrictions on menstruating women that different religions imposed- no eating rice, no touching a plant or it is bound to shrivel and die, no “touching pickle” as in you can’t touch an actual pickle. But beyond the laughing was something real; we had stumbled upon a major way millions of people are being controlled. If women’s bodies are silenced, then they are being silenced. I decided to change my senior research paper. This was just too compelling and too insane to not do anything with.
As our interest grew and we began talking more frequently about it, Ms. Foran got involved. She came up to us one
day in class and said that she had gifts for the both of us- two copies of “my little red book.” Belle, seeing that she grew up in New Haven, immediately reached out to the author- Rachel- over email. What luck?!- she just so happened to be giving the opening remarks for something called PeriodCon at the Yale School of Business Management and wanted us to be a part of it! We texted back and forth, I sent her my essay, and we finally were able to all get on a group call where we shared our ideas.
On the day of the conference Belle and I both dressed in red (obviously) and practiced what we were going to say. We only spoke for 10 minutes or so, but the speakers after us kept referring to us whenever they needed a reference to “the youth” or “the next generation.” Foran was there cheering us on the whole time. We discussed our entrance into the world of “period people” and what ideas we had in mind for continuing this work. Afterwards, we were able to hear from some amazing speakers on topics such as the biology of periods, product development and innovation, and period experiences on an international level.
We are so grateful to have been invited to the first annual PeriodCon and have had the chance to speak. Through this experience, we have begun to find that the work we are doing for our senior projects and elsewhere, even if not directly tied to menstruation, plays an important role in starting conversations and improving the attitudes towards topics such as periods.