When my editor discovered the bloody tampon earrings at the Meadham Kirchoff show at London Fashion Week, I was intrigued. I’m honestly not out to shock people into giving me the attention my nature counselors never did, but I thought this was so crazy it had to be tested in public.
Some people get Balenciaga macarons out of fashion month, I got the idea to do my own Meadham Kirchoff knockoff. So I dunked some Tampax in hair dye called Luscious Raspberries and set them out to dry overnight. They didn’t, but screw it. It was time to venture outside and debut the new me decorated with period deluge. Because my ears aren’t pierced and I don’t want them to be, I bobby pinned it to my hair.
My neighbor stared directly at it, but didn’t say anything. She just thanked me in Russian for opening the door. I’ve stained furniture and overdone it with makeup on just one eye, but I’ve always managed to keep the hoohaa rags out of my hair. What if this were an accident? I would never trust this woman again.
Picture your typical walk to work with looks of concern from everyone you pass. I thought it would be my most attention-grabbing thing I’ve worn to date, and I’ve had several unsuccessful attempts at “style.” Conductor hats, shorteralls, head to toe pink — but this was a seminal moment in individuality expression. Here’s the odd thing about accessorizing with feminine care products. Nobody drew back in horror or was grossed out.
I was strutting confidently with an expression that read LOOK AT THIS TAMPON THING AND SAY SOMETHING FUNNY OR INSULTING ABOUT IT. Everyone who wasn’t looking at their phone absolutely clocked my tampon accessory. Still, they said nothing, perhaps because the sign of something blood-soaked dangling from my head clued them into a woman off the rails. Maybe they guessed interaction with such a person might hold even creepier possibilities in store. Maybe they’re polite. Maybe they’re uncooperative assholes. The persistence of my smile, given the massacre I was hanging out to dry, may have made them think that I had an unfounded spacial relations condition that leads one to mistake the side of one’s head for the inside of one’s vagina.
On the subway, a girl sat down across from me with bags from Mood Fabrics. Finally. Obviously a designer. Obviously my target audience. I tilted my head so she’d be able to create an Instagram photo series on me and make me her official muse. Oh the subversive blood-spattered memories we’d make together. She pretty much just stared in disgust until she got off at Canal Street. I concluded that her internet didn’t go all the way to London Fashion Week, the cultural pulse of the world.
I’m not really the period joke or independent-vagina-study-with-the-mirror type. I grew up thinking it was something to hide, despite being a key part of the whole source of life situation. It’s ruined countless opportunities with crushes in the Seventeen series Tramaurama. I once had to ask my dad to buy tampons, and I felt ashamed. But he made laugh about it. “Always free to jet out and pick up some rags,” he said. Every month, I basically, just plug myself up for a few days and ignore it, but I’m still embarrassed when I get blood on the sheets I share with my boyfriend.
I walked into work like a neglected freakshow.
Here’s what my co-workers had to say
“It’s like a prank on yourself that no one knows except for you.”
“Is this to raise of awareness?”
“I love it! A toxic shock earring!”
“I like your accessory.”
“Is that….Nooooo. Really?”
“What are you doing?”
“It’s called fashion” — my editor who was always there to defend me.
When I complained to my editor that none of the strangers made fun of me, she suggested I do a topknot to rev my experiment up. So on I went to happy hour at a gay bar where the majority of the clientele doesn’t have to deal with menstruation, my brand new accessory swinging at its dangly solo best.
“They’ll love it. It’s so club kid,” she assured me.
We both met a charming guy at the bar who only complimented my chest and skin so finally I just held it up and asked him what he thought about it.
“That’s a bloody tampon,” he said surprised. “I like the pattern. You’re like Melissa Harris-Perry, but she used unused ones.” I was really pushing things forward in the gross-out/bravery category, except no real viewers.
Based on this guy’s cultural references (Madonna and the like,) I thought Melissa Harris-Perry was someone from the ’60s who wore plunging necklines with no bra and spoke at open mics in The Village, but she’s an amazing MSNBC anchor who wore tampons on-air to protest anti-abortion laws.
He remarked that men not getting periods or giving birth wasn’t the real problem, although he was furious about the disgusting practice of sticking your wife in a menstruation hut. He said that the wage gap was the real issue and that if he were a woman, he’d be pissed. He also said if I had a dick, he’d be all over me. Although he rejected my idea to give him a tampon boutineer because he “had to make a phone call,” he said he’d take one later.
“If, if, can’t.” A lot of empty promises, this guy.
Toward the end of the night, my friend mimed taking it off and nodded. Later on, I did, wishing the day were splashier. (Sorry.) I freaked some people out, oddly felt a little closer to myself, and got one drunk person talking politics at a bar.
With my seminal fashion moment over, I’ll just use the rest of the Tampax box for the real thing. Having spent some quality time with a bloody tampon knocking against my face all day, I’ll be a little less grossed out by myself, I hope.
Reprinted with permission from Styleite.