Last weekend saw the opening of the world’s first Period Shop, a pop-up store on New York’s Fifth Avenue that aims to break the taboos of menstruation and the way we discuss periods.
The idea all stemmed from a Tumblr post. Sarah Michelson, a New York college student, wrote a post about how she’d like a store where she could relax whilst buying tampons, listen to great music, have her nails done and eat ice-cream… in other words, everything you’d like to do whilst you’re feeling rough and on your period.
You should’ve seen men’s faces as they walked past the shop: “Wait, is that a shop for periods?!” I heard one say, whilst others did double-takes. Women walking past either smiled or laughed.
There’s still so much stigma surrounding women’s health. In 2010, Kotex’s commercial was banned by some TV networks for mentioning the word “vagina” on screen. Commercials often look like women are having the best time on their periods, when in actual fact, we mainly want to curl up in a ball with a hot water bottle and cry. Blood is still shown as blue, in the hopes of not offending anyone. But the idea that periods are offensive is ignorant in itself.When I was younger, the word ‘period’ was enough to send me into a flustered frenzy. That’s why stores like this are so great and forward-thinking. The more we talk about periods, the less embarrassing they’ll be. Some mothers brought their children in with them, including little boys, who looked like they were having a great time.
The store was girly, fun and relaxed – lots of neon lights, pink and humour. Tampons hung from the ceiling. Free tampons and towels were handed out to us, and we were encouraged to write what our periods meant to us on a giant blackboard. As well as sanitary items, there were also lots of other products for sale – everything from make-up bags, to feminist badges, to skincare products to T-shirts. Upstairs was converted into a Chill Lounge, with a DJ, lava lamps, fans, a free nail bar (with period-inspired nail art – hilarious!), an ice cream counter and free massages. Needless to say, everyone looked very chilled.
I think the shop underestimated the amount of people that would visit the store, though, as all the spaces for the nail art and massages were filled up quickly.
If stores like this existed when I was a teenager, I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen my period as shameful and embarrassing. And after such a successful weekend, I only hope more stores like this pop-up across the world!