As Diane Shaibu of Prince George’s County, Maryland, was heading to her bathroom to deal with her menstrual needs, she felt she was back in middle school with a sense of shame over the sanitary pads she was holding in her hands. She took to Twitter expecting her friends would appreciate her thought that “smuggling pads to the bathroom like it’s some sort of illegal drug gotta be the worst adaptation to patriarchy”. Not only did her friends agree, the thought resonated so much that women and transgender people all over the world shared their experiences of “pad shame”. And with about 60,000 retweets and more than 200,000 likes so far, it’s fair to say Shaibu’s shower thoughts are now viral.
The 24-year-old, who has been menstruating for a decade, told the BBC she was astonished by the reaction. “As the feelings of shame came through me, I was wondering why I still felt those emotions. Having a period is normal but yet I feel this way every single month.” She said that even at home she would keep her sanitary pads in her bedroom and away from communal places so her family wouldn’t have to be exposed to it. She said it felt as though she was doing something illegal and was part of an underground club and it felt strange to acknowledge that.
Women on iMiMatch who are feeling the same way exposing their pads like Diane are meeting with other bold and courageous women who are teaching them to empower themselves and not feel ashamed by their nature. The shy ones are learning that just like the men are boldly exposing their condoms which is something that has to do with intimacy, so they, the women should be bold about their own intimacy. Once these women become empowered, they even go out into their communities in groups to educate and encourage other women to join them on iMiMatch so that together, they can end pad shame even among themselves, women.