There’s a lot of things that are embarrassing about being a teenager. I’m incredibly glad that things like Instagram weren’t around when I was going through puberty; all I really have to remember my early teens are photographs: physical ones and ones taken on actual digital cameras that were saved onto old laptop hard drives. Those laptops became obsolete years ago, and those pictures never made it onto the internet thanks to the slow dial-up speeds. My hair was a mess, my skin was a mess, and I had no idea who I was or what I was doing.
Most of my teenage memories are purposely blocked out. I’ve conveniently forgotten my first, and probably traumatic, period, but I remember the subsequent ones – digging through my mother’s hallway cupboard only to find teeny, tiny little tampons. They were barely the thickness of my index finger and just about the size of two knuckles, and even now looking back I wonder how anything like that ever worked for her. No applicator, no instructions.
So rather than tango with a tiny wad of cotton up my foof, I opted for the pads I found at the back of the cupboard but, what I didn’t realise, was that they were pantyliners. I would pop one in in the morning and then, by the time break rolled around at school, I would have to ask the school nurse for something else. Does anybody else remember what they would give out?
The only time I’ve ever used a pad as thick as the ones the school nurse gave me was after I gave birth. Cushy pillows that, yes, held a lot of blood, but also made you sweat, smell, and gave you heart palpitations thinking they would show through your school trousers.
Luckily, things have moved on from those mattress sized sanitary towels and minuscule balls of fluff and now our modern day teens have the option of period pants – basically a pair of pants with a built in pantry liner type gusset that helps to either deal with light flow periods or acts as a back-up for heavier days. No more worrying about leaking onto your school uniform or strolling round the corridors with a bulky VPL.
I am unbelievably grateful that my own teen journey wasn’t shared on social media for all eternity. With all the added pressures that teens face nowadays, it’s great to know that there are small steps we can be taking as parents to make their journey that little bit easier.
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