I can remember one of my friends in grade school telling me that in a few years my stomach was going to start bleeding and that it happens to every girl. For some reason I answered her by saying, “even Marsha Brady?” I pictured a gash in my abdomen and it kept me back from playing sports and cheerleading.
Thankfully my mother, a registered nurse, cleared things up for me both in a clinical and motherly way. She referred to your period as “your friend,” prompting me to think, “with a friend like this, who needs an enemy.” My sisters and I later renamed it “the curse.”
I didn’t pay too much attention to myths some of the other girls were saying. Particularly, the one where your hair would be limp and not be able to stay curled even with hot rollers or a curling iron. I have naturally curly hair. There was no way I was listening to the one that says you should not wash your hair when you have your period. I kept shampoo and conditioner in business when I was a tween and teen. I have also read that if you have to get a cavity filled it will fall out if you have your period. Thankfully, I did not have any cavities.
Over the years, I have also heard some funny stories surrounding feminine supplies. My aunt once told me that one of her student’s little brothers gave her a box of tampons as a present. He went to the corner store to buy them because he saw a commercial showing, “it could help her horseback ride and swim better.” My other favorite story is about a friend’s younger cousin who set the table with feminine napkins at each place setting because they were more absorbent. She carefully peeled off the adhesive backing and stuck them to the table.
I may be speaking from personal experience and the wives tales that I heard, but, many of these myths can be found in the Museum of Menstruation (http://www.mum.org/). Yes, I too was surprised to find out that there was a museum dedicated to this symbol of womanhood.
In the 80’s, most of the girls I knew did not rebel and use tampons until high school. There was no way, “my friend” or “the curse” was going to keep me from wearing a fabulous white dress or pants.