Real Talk: I've Never Used a Tampon
When I was a child, I wondered why I couldn’t take baths. My mother refused, but they seemed so fun and it wasn’t something other kids weren’t allowed to do. Including family. One night when I slept over at my cousin’s house, I took a dreaded bath (unscathed) and afterwards I told my mother. That’s when she shared the shocking “truth” with me: baths were actually bad for you. They were bad for you because you were sitting in soapy water and the soapy water could go up your secret area.
After that, I couldn’t look at baths the same way; was my secret area really so important that I couldn’t even let water in? I felt so bad for girls who took baths and weren’t aware of the harm they were doing.
Fast forward several years: I got my first period. I had learned about them in health class (anatomically), but I hadn’t learned was what I was supposed to do with them. Pads were easy to figure out: they were like diapers (but they just caught something very different). I still wasn’t sure what a tampon was for (the health video very inconveniently did not explain what it was supposed to do). You could imagine my shock when I went to a church retreat and the other girls told me it was supposed to go inside the secret area, the area that even water wasn’t meant to go into. The conflicting information I had gotten from these other girls and my mother, from the school text books and the all-knowing matriarch, it was confusing to say the least.
I decided it was time to give it a try, to find out for myself. I locked myself in the bathroom to try putting the tampon in. It seemed easy enough – the instructions on the box even came with pictures of a faceless woman who slid it in with ease. The plastic applicator tip wasn’t even inside me and I felt something was wrong. There was the sound of piano keys clanging in a jarring, traumatizing clash in my head. I panicked and the tampon fell. I thought maybe that was a fluke and tried again… and again… and again.
Of course, one out of a million times, you hit a bulls-eye; the tampon slid in and it was snug inside. After the initial elation of success, I suddenly began to panic again; there was something inside me, inside this area that was meant to be protected. I frantically yanked at the string, which turned out not to be the wisest choice. I wasn’t wet enough down there, and it hurt. I understand why things weren’t supposed to be in there, it all made sense! I cried, then gritted my teeth and slowly forced it out little by little.
I still can’t use tampons, and even though I now realize they are safe, hygienic products and I know that baths aren’t evil, the distance between my mind and body is still too great. It’s an irrational fear, I know, but it lives inside of me. For now, it’s all pads for me but I’m sure on day that fear will be lifted. I hope so.