Part of me is really worried this is too intimate to write about, especially in this setting, but that’s kind of the issue: A couple weeks ago I lent a friend my backpack. I say “lent” in the sense that a totally separate third party offered it up on my behalf and I passed it over, apologizing that it was “full of Clif Bars and tampons.”

Immediately I took a mental step back, knowing the conversation was about to get tense in that we-both-know-I-menstruate-but-you-were-never-taught-how-to-handle-it way. Instead, the conversation ended normally, us both laughing at how aggressively orange that thing is. I was grateful to finally be speaking to a teenage boy who didn’t react negatively to the word “tampon” and disappointed that I expected anything else.

The first time I asked a health teacher about the availability of tampons in the bathrooms at school, she explained having them in there could lead boys to shoot them at one another. This continues to baffle me. Was this ever an issue? Because if not, she clearly was scrambling for an answer and landed on “feminine product firearm.” And if that were an issue, the school has the ability — and is even required — to provide a health class to teach all students about periods. Solve the problem instead of having roughly 12 percent of the student body checking every reflective surface for blood stains on their clothing at any given time.

If all of the students are acting immaturely around sex ed, maybe it’s not being taught right. Yes, it’s giggly and embarrassing, but in my experience, the vast majority of people grow out of the urge to shoot at each other with tampons through education.

Putting tampons and menstrual pads in the girls bathroom may seem like another way to fix this, but not all of the menstruating students at any given school are girls. Please don’t just take the fastest exit when it comes to students on their periods.

My school does provide tampons in the women’s restrooms on campus. It started the second semester of my freshman year, and until I was a sophomore, it was paid for and provided by a single student. She graduated with the class of 2021, but the school stepped up to fill the gap. The feeling is hard to describe, but it’s a relief to know they’re there in case I need it. And there are a lot of people who need it way more than I do.

Putting aside that they’re objectively a horrible investment, you can only use them once, they’re bad for the planet, and that the alternatives are limited and daunting, pads and tampons also are expensive. Menstrual products in New Mexico are not excluded from sales tax, and according to the New York Times, tampons can cost someone $9-$50 a month. Pads, which tend to be preferred by people just starting their periods and are totally acceptable to use no matter how old you are, are a little bit cheaper. (Please don’t let me make you feel guilty about needing pads and tampons, as far as climate change goes; you are not the problem.)

I am someone who tries to live as climate conscious as possible, constantly persuading people I shop with we don’t need a bag and can walk into the parking lot carrying multiple items in our arms. But somehow when buying sanitary products, we always end up with a bag just big enough for the single item. I still haven’t shaken the feeling of another person’s secondhand embarrassment for my body.

Emma Meyers is a junior at

Santa Fe Prep. Contact her at

(1) comment

Sabine Strohem

Great essay!

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