Periods are like taxes. They are pretty much unavoidable for women once they reach publicity, until the lovely experience which is menopause. Chloe Salins looks into the idea of free sanitary products and what women are doing to campaign for a #FreePeriod.
It’s about time we finally got what we deserve with periods. Why do we have to be taxed 5% for something we don’t really have control of. We pay 5% to be healthy, to stop infections.
Luckily the tax does seem to be disappearing bit by bit. Tesco’s finally removed the tax from any of their sanitary products so props to them and let’s see who follows next.
We live in a world where we can get free contraception and condoms which yes is helpful, but why shouldn’t we get free sanitary products as well. Maybe not for everyone yet but at least for those who are homeless, low income, or in school.
I remember when I started my period I felt so awkward about the whole situation. No one else in my school had got theirs and the conversation with my mum was too embarrassing to bring up.
I was shaking picking up my packet of sanitary towels, and because I didn’t want to tell my mum my pocket money was drained instantly when I bought them.
Periods have come a long way in the media though. We’ve been waiting for this for long enough but BodyForm have brought out a new campaign: Blood Normal. A TV and social media campaign finally showing blood as red rather than that weird blue liquid.
The video encourages us to be normal about our periods. We shouldn’t be embarrassed about them.
Although Periods are making waves in the media, sanitary products are still on our shelves being sold as “luxury items” at a high price.
We spoke with Hayley Smith from the charity Flow Aid, they help to make sanitary products free for homeless women.
When asked about how we combat the commercialisation of periods and she said “we need to educate starting from an early age about periods and we need to normalise them.”
She also followed on about the media saying, “it plays a huge part in how we perceive periods. They often paint caricatures of women being monsters on their periods. These stereotypes don’t help anything and we need to combat them.”
We need to work together to combat these stereotypes, whether that’s improving education about periods in schools around you. Or even just being there for someone who is maybe unsure about it all it’s time we got working together.
As Hayley explains “having free sanitary products available will make girls feel less embarrassed and less isolated, knowing that their bodies are being looked after and that they aren’t alone.
“Free sanitary products is also essential for good mental health and attitude.
“There are so many issues caused by not having access to free sanitary products, including health problems, meaning that this becomes an NHS problem.
“By making sanitary products free, so many other issues will be solved, and money will be saved.”
But what can we do about it? We can start by working with companies that are helping this change. Stop supporting companies and big household names that don’t want to help us. Supermarkets like Tesco have taken the move and removed the tampon tax so why are we not giving them our business – they are helping us out after all.
It’s not fair that even at an early age we don’t have enough access to sanitary products especially at school.
Teachers and support staff should be there to help. Whether that’s offering a sanitary product or just making us feel more comfortable about the whole thing.
I remember in school the conversation of periods was in year 6. Yep that’s right – before anyone had really gotten one, but when I got to high school there was no mention of it – apart from the odd boy who would make fun of girls who left the class to go to the toilet carrying something.
Why are we making fun of something so natural. We don’t make any jokes when someone uses a condom or talks freely about contraception so why do we poke fun at people who are going through a natural process.
To really highlight the issue with the lack of period support in schools, Shadow Equalities Minister, Paula Sherriff said, “schoolgirls in Yorkshire and elsewhere have had to use toilet paper and even socks stuffed into their underwear because families can’t afford sanitary protection, due to poverty, pay and welfare cuts.”
Does this not raise even more the issue of periods in schools. By using toilet paper this is a massive health risk. Why are we putting young girls in this situation.
Even those who are homeless are having to resort to methods like this because there are no other means.
This isn’t safe and in an already dangerous environment we shouldn’t be leaving people like this.
Whilst we push towards this change there are things we can do. Christmas is coming up soon and we all know it is getting cold.
As a child I remember doing the shoe box appeal so I’m going to be doing a similar thing this year but for homeless women. They are going to be little makeup bags filled with sanitary towels, wipes, and other products to keep women safe on the streets. You can get involved with little bits of help to help others out there.
It’s about time we get a change going, we scrap this tampon tax. We make sanitary products available for those of low income, in school, and homeless.
Let’s make a change.