I’m a 24 yo girl and I have been having period for more than a decade.
In my place, I have never seen people to talk about period out loud. It’s like sex, essential but you can’t talk about it. I don’t know why even my mom didn’t have a period talk with me. I had no clue wtf was happening with me when I first experienced it. Period hit me when I was probably 13.
I used to live in a small town with my parents. Sanitary napkins were available in medical stores only. I remember how those stores used to be. In one of the showcases they had 10 or more varieties of condoms and relevant products in display. All of the products had same kind of images on them- Guy kissing girl’s neck or something like that. For a long time I didn’t know about sex but looked at those packaging with utter astonishment. I never saw anyone to point to any of the products but they were in display anyway. In the other show case they used to have baby foods, diapers and period products.
My dad used to buy pads for mom and me. We used to give him the name or pic for reference. It’s hard for a person who doesn’t use the product to buy the correct one. There’s so many varieties- with wings, without wings, normal, large, extra large, XXL, thin, ultra thin, night, day, cotton, with intricate design and fragrance etc. So my dad used to hand over the little piece of paper where we had written the golden words and the uncle used to read it with a serious face, get the pads, cover it in a black carry bag and give my dad.
No other product was sold in a black carry bag. You could clearly tell who’s carrying shameful period products. Sometime in my high school I read an article in the local newspaper on the arguement- why period products are sold in black plastic or newspaper. Somebody pointed out that condoms are treated the same. There is nothing to show off here. Period which is an integral part of women’s life, has been treated like a thing we need to hide. We women shy away from talking about things that are not illegal or unnatural. Whenever my mom had to buy pads, she would go to the place where a lady used to run the store just to avoid the awkwardness.
While living with my parents I never had to go and buy pads by myself. Maybe I was with my mom or dad at the medical store but I never had to ask the shopkeeper by myself. As time progressed, in the commercials they tried to grow awareness in people, why guys shouldn’t laugh at a girl buying her pads and so on. But it remained the same awkward to buy the period products in my hometown. Because literally you have to guide the person, I need that light blue packet on the top left corner of the shelf. No not that one, the other one with a picture of a butterfly on it. No not this one either! That one above the pink packet. Ugh! Not the pink one. I need the light blue one. Yes.
When the person doesn’t understand the specifications you have written down like extra large, extra thin, night pads. You have to guide the person to get the pad from the shelf. I am so bad with this that I would rather free bleed at home.
I moved to a different city for my job. Now I need to buy the period products by myself. But it’s not a small town. Here I can go to the super market and throw the pads along with groceries and other essentials in my cart. It’s not awkward here to buy period products from a super market. They don’t even give any black plastic or newspaper to cover it. That’s actually good. I’m not dealing drugs. I’m buying my period products so that I can go to work while bleeding, so that I don’t make a mess here and there. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Fortunately people in India have started understanding it!
**Till now, I haven’t seen tampons or menstrual cups in any of the medical stores or super market. It’s yet to be popular in India.