"Tell them you ritualistically sit in spaghetti sauce."
By Callie Little
When period stains happen, there can be a lot of shame and stigma surrounding them. But really menstrual blood is nothing to feel ashamed of. That’s why we reached out to Marita DeLeon and El Sanchez, two Seattle comedians who host a monthly QTPOC-centered comedy show, Fist and Shout, and know what it’s like to laugh about some of the tougher moments in life. And while period stains can feel like one of those tough moments, the truth is they're actually NBD.
Why can period stains feel so embarrassing in the first place?
“We’ve been convinced that periods are gross for some dumb reason,” says El. “Some teenagers aren’t used to them yet — although if you’re like me and started yours in 4th grade, you kind of are — so they’re still new and scary or weird. People who don’t have periods are often fed fake information about them that makes them think that people on their periods are at best dirty and gross, and at worst are basically slowly bleeding to death. This kind of teenage ignorance makes all period-havers fear it being publicly known when ther cycle hits. For some women who have periods, there’s afear of not meeting that impossible perfect ideal of femininity if, for some reason, some misinformed person sees evidence of your menses and thinks you’re gross.”
This is such a great point. We may be conditioned to think that menstruation is unclean or gross, but in reality it's just a normal part of life. Just like having body hair doesn't make you dirty, neither does having a period.
“I think as ayounger person with aperiod, Ihad less confidence in how to deal with period stains and probably considered myself dirty if Ihad any stains,” Marita says. “I would get very anxious, feel so embarrassed. But now, IDGAF. Especially as someone that often dates people with periods, it's so normalized and not at all taboo.”
“It becomes so much less of abig deal,” El comments. “It seriously becomes such apart of life that it barely affects your day. ”
Okay, but in the meantime, what if they happen? And what if someone points it out?
El goes for practical, sage advice. “If they’re just letting you know, no need to be embarrassed. They’re just trying to help. You’d do the same. If they’re being rude about it, don’t let it bother you too much. There’s nothing wrong with you. Periods are just part of life. They’re not gross or weird and you’re not the only person having one. Overflow and stains are gonna happen, no matter how well you stuff your pants.”
Marita, however, harnesses the power of humor. “Make ajoke of it. Tell them you ritualistically sit in spaghetti sauce [or] ketchup [or] tomato bisque as away to harness good luck in your life. Say you forgot where your mouth is and actually put lipstick on your anus instead.”
That’s one way to use an iconic red lippie.
What would you recommend if you see someone else with staining?
“Don’t judge!” says El. “If afriend has astain they may not have noticed, let them know they may want to visit the bathroom without making fun of them or publicly announcing it. The cooler you are to them about it, the cooler they’ll be when it’s happens to you.”
“Actively remove the stigma in conversations about period stains. It's not that gross. Offer support in the way of getting them menstrual products, making them laugh about it or just hiding in the bathroom with them forever, whatever they need.”
As for what to do with that stained underwear?
El recommends amix of baking soda and soda water. “It works pretty great.”