IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Walked 10 Blocks with a Used Menstrual Pad Stuck to My Shoulder

And no one told me!
Publish date:
December 6, 2016
pads, embarassing moments, period

On a beautiful fall day in 2000, I was walking down Newbury Street, a way chichi haute couture shopping street in downtown Boston. I was an aspiring dancer at the time, and I’d had a day of auditions scheduled with various modern dance troupes, so there had been a lot of changing in and out of outfits throughout the day.

As I strolled down the street in the late-afternoon sunshine, I notice that lots of guys seem to be checking me out. I was like, Whoa, this is fun. I guess I must be looking extra-fine today. Even the women were giving me once-overs. I even turned some heads! I concluded the reason for my glow was all the confidence I was exuding. I had a good feeling about performing well at most of my auditions so far. Anyway, who knew why I was the belle of Newbury Street? I just knew I liked it.

Eight blocks later, I arrived at my last audition in front of a building with lots of windows; in fact the exterior was mostly glass.

As I glance at my reflection, something caught my eye. I paused and turned slightly. I saw something on my shoulder. It looked like a white and red epaulet, which was odd because epaulets did not figure anywhere into my outfit, which consisted of a tight black top and a black form-fitting calf-length skirt that swirled out at the hem.

I took a step closer to the wall of windows, and I gasped. WTF is that?!

My used menstrual pad — Kotex, to be exact — was stuck to my left shoulder, one end blithely flapping up and down in the wind, waving hello to everyone I passed on the street.

In horror and embarrassment, I peeled it off, rolled it up and stuffed it in my bag. A couple of people stared and quickly turned away. I suddenly remembered all the passersby who saw my accidental accessory. First of all, all those guys who said nothing, then all the women who walked by who also said nothing. I even started to wonder if I had worn the pad (in this nontraditional location) during one of the auditions.

As I caught my breath and tried to calm my shit down before this final audition I had arrived for, I started thinking about the casual cruelty of those who don’t go the least bit out of their way to help another person. Had I been guilty of this as well at some time in my life? No doubt about it. I remembered a phenomenon called “the bystander effect,” which is term typically applied to scenarios when people witness a crime and do nothing about it. Of course what had happened to me wasn't a crime, but still, why hadn’t anyone stepped up to tell me what the hell I had sticking to my shoulder, for block after block after block?

I resolved at that moment to always reach out if I came across someone who needed any help that I was capable of giving — a vow I’ve kept until this day.

And that last audition? Nailed it.