For many pubescent girls, middle school is a horrific experience: your cup size becomes the new hot topic, and you learn the hard way that no matter how much of your mother's makeup you pile on, popped pimples cannot be covered. But nothing can be worse than a surprise visit from Aunt Flo. I remember on several occasions rifling through my disorganized backpack, finding the one tampon that went unused last month, and then rushing home to change, praying that the cotton swab lodged up my vagina for the past eight hours hadn't given me toxic shock syndrome.
Thankfully, the middle school girls of New York City will never have to suffer from a similar trauma.
This week, New York City Council unanimously voted in favor of a new set of bills requiring free menstrual hygiene products in public schools, prisons, and homeless shelters. Led by New York City Council member and finance chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, this "menstrual-equity" legislation will provide pads and tampons for 800 schools (about 300,000 students) and 23,000 women in homeless shelters. Prisons will no longer have a limitation on the number of pads distributed to inmates and tampons, previously unavailable, will now be offered.
"Providing menstrual hygiene products privately, immediately and for free is about sending a body-positive message by not perpetuating shame and humiliation, and acknowledging that women's bodies... deserve some dignity during their periods," Ferreras-Copeland explains to The Cut.
No longer will girls awkwardly ask their friends for tampons they didn't think they needed for two more days, nor will inmates need to choose between pads and toothpaste. No longer will the women of NYC be hindered by the "womanhood penalty" because feminine hygiene products are now, as they always should been considered, necessities.