Period shaming has been a constant form of discrimination against women for as long I can remember. Even today, there is a negative stigma attached to having your period.

As women, we are taught from the very moment we first get our period to hide it, as if it is something unnatural and something to be ashamed of. Almost all women feel the constant fear of accidentally staining their pants in public and enduring ‘social embarrassment’ because of it. I, myself, have been guilty of feeling discomfort in purchasing sanitary pads when there is a man working at the register or even in front of male friends. Anxiety boils up inside if I happen to see someone I know at the store and there is an internal struggle on whether or whether not to hide the fact that I am purchasing pads or tampons. I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

What makes the situation is worse is the fact that tampons and pads are seen as ‘luxury’ items and not basic necessities. In fact, tampons are only tax-exempt in a handful of states. Feminine hygiene should not be considered as some form of indulgence, as all women have no choice but to purchase these items. This is most certainly a form of gender discrimination. According to Euromonitor, approximately $3.1 billion was spent on sanitary protection alone. Just imagine the amount of money women would save if tampons were tax-exempt.

There has been initiative taken on combatting this stigma and discrimination. There have been petitions circulating around to make tampons tax exempt. Many women are taking the issue to social media and spreading awareness. However, there is a ways to go in resolving this problem. It will only get better with time, as this kind of change is gradual because it involves changing the mindsets of both men and women. Raising awareness is the first step in facilitating this, so as this movement spreads further, we will see the progress. In the mean time, regardless of who you are, just remember that menstruating is a natural process and not something to be ashamed of.