I have a moment from when I was a highschool freshman that haunts me…I was on the school bus and a “Super” tampon fell out of my backpack.
I have a thing where once a tampon hits the ground in a public place it’s dead to me so I left it on the floor.
Well, a couple minutes later, a male sophomore starts hooting and hollering and stood up in the back of the bus holding up my disowned tampon and starts making this big deal, laughing,
demanding to know whose “big ass vagina” it belonged to.
I was super embarrassed and sunk down in my seat as the guys in the back of the bus continued to make a big deal out of it, thinking that I was a freak for using such a large tampon.
Now, 15 years later, that moment still pops into my mind now and again.
I’m still embarrassed, not for using a super-absorbant tampon as most women do the first couple days of their menses, but because I didn’t stand up for myself.
I’d give anything to be able to go back in time to that moment. I want to stand up, turn to him and say, “Yo! That’s mine.
And uh, if the size of that tampon intimidates you, I feel bad for your girlfriends.” By not standing up for myself back then, I feel like I let everyone down.
Other young girls on the bus who may have had Super tampons squirreled away and were embarrassed by proxy, questing their ever-changing body “normality” as I questioned my own in that moment.
By not standing up for myself, I basically said that the boy’s behavior was OK, and it totally wasn’t.
I’ll never have kids of my own, but my best friend has a 9-year-old daughter and I am proud to be her “cool aunt.
” She’s weird and creative, and socially awkward… she reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. And I’m so scared for her coming into adolescence.
I do everything I can to encourage her to own herself and not let others push her around.
I talk openly about things I remember struggling with in high school in the hopes she’ll remember and handle them better when she’s there (I often openly discuss needed the Super tampons
with her mother when she’s around in the hopes that needing Super or Super Plus tampons is engrained as a very normal requirement for some people- it’s silly, I know).
I don’t want anyone to feel bad for the way their body functions, regardless of gender/sex/identification.
I know there will always be ignorance, and there will always be that odd adolescent yearning to be accepted amongst your peers that may lead to bullying; however,
I hope we teach our kids to be better than we were, by informing and not by yelling or crucifying the other gender, which will hopefully suppress the negative effects of that yearning.
I don’t want to live in a world where one gender is “better” than the other,
but a world where we lift each other up and have each other’s backs regardless of gender (or race or orientation or identification or religion or whatever the case may be).
It takes a village to raise a good generation and we’re ALL in this little village called Earth.
A little upside of that moment on the bus? I’ve never once left a piece of my garbage on the ground since.