From puberty through menopause, women of every size, class, and color all over the world bleed from their uteri for days on end. Amenorrhoea and pregnancy aside, women's bodies everywhere universally undergo the same internal process.
Currently, the prescribed, modern alternatives to catching the flow are what outrageously burst off the shelves of supermarkets: these cotton wads, coated in spring-y pastel plastics, cutely shrink-wrapped in "feminine" flowers, polka-dots and dipped in vats of perfume in order to mask the reality that must be--to primarily male product developers and advertisers--simply horrendous.
Disposable feminine hygiene products are designed to be one-use for a reason. It's quicker, it's easier, and it's money-making. But the trade-offs are many.
First, it confers a sense of disgust about menstruation onto women, distancing us from the mystery and power of being a woman, a being capable of giving birth, which is truly what our periods biologically signify. Shouldn't this idea bring us joy, rather than a sense of being cursed?
Second, this cultural attitude of shame surrounding menstruation, combined with our modern throw-away culture, has produced nothing less than small-scale environmental disaster. Imagine: landfills overflowing with bloody rags, soaked tampons and their little tubular plastic applicators and, to coin the adjectival phrase from ad-speak, "bulky" cotton pads.
Lastly, for those of us using tampons, we should all be aware of the noted health risk. The bleaching process required to treat the pristine, absorbent cotton-rayon used to make most common brands of tampons produces a trace amount of the toxic byproduct, dioxin, which countless studies have shown increases the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Why do we as women continue to knowingly and willingly expose our bodies to deadly toxin? Why did I have to rationalize away that fear that gripped me as a 13-year-old girl who wanted to go swimming one summer day, after reading the enclosed TSS warning pamphlet?
Thankfully, the uncomfortable days of the menstrual belt are dead and gone now.