It’s been so long since we ladies have been able to share intimate bathroom moments, I am sort of craving them. You know those pre-COVID times when a stranger would hand you a tampon or a wad of toilet paper under the stall door? Women’s bathrooms are a sacred space where we stop judging, hand each other tissues, compliment one another, and cry. Occasionally, they will have those old-fashioned vending machines with pads the size of a toddler’s diaper. (Can we fix this? No one is carrying change.) I actually had an incident care of one: It was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, in the late ’90s, after a water ride, and I was in a bodysuit. I am still traumatized.
If you haven’t guessed, I want to talk about periods. Mine comes every 28 days, but somehow, always when I least expect it. I have ruined my best jeans, my best vintage sundress, a couch (it was mine), sheets, and my good underwear. All women have their good underwear, just as we all have some shameful, thinning, ripped-up underwear tucked away for our periods. This underwear is not to be confused with actual period underwear, which is made specifically to be worn during your period in lieu of a tampon or pad.
I wore period underwear for a bit after I gave birth, until one day when a kindly gentleman informed me I had toilet paper sticking out of my pants. I was feeling very good that day, having washed my hair and produced a live human from my body just weeks prior, so his comment took me down a peg. I was never really dying to give period underwear another go after that. While the gentleman’s feedback wasn’t solicited or correct, it also wasn’t wrong: Period underwear, like the tampons and pads it is meant to replace, can be bulky. A lot of it looks even more awkward because it has bizarre paper-towel patterns.