The Westridge Period Movement

Jadyn L.
Emily.JPG
November 18, 2019
Period Movement Instagram
Period Movement Instagram
Period Movement Instagram
Graphic taken from The Period Movement Instagram detailing their stance on the
tampon tax.
Photograph taken from The Period Movement Instagram of protestors on National
Period Day (October 19th, 2019).

It’s no secret that on the Westridge campus students talk openly and freely about their periods on a daily basis, whether it is screaming in the classroom “DOES ANYONE HAVE A TAMPON?” or complaining about cramps. 

 

“I think Westridge as an institution doesn’t do a whole lot about menstruation, but I really like how open everyone is in terms of talking about periods and offering supplies,” commented Emma R. ’20. 

 

At Westridge, the stigma that exists around menstruation is just about erased, but this is not the case everywhere. All around the world, women face setbacks because of their periods. The most common challenge women face is limited access to menstrual products like tampons and pads. 

 

It might be surprising to know that the problem isn’t just for women in developing countries. In 2018 the menstrual products company Always conducted a poll that found that about one in five girls in the United States have either left or stayed home from school because they did not have period products. According to the Always research, about 88,000 girls in Los Angeles had to stay home because they could not afford essential menstruation products. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It's obviously a major issue, and it's a really solvable problem, which is part of what makes it so frustrating,” said Melissa Kelley, Upper School AP Art History and AP European History teacher. “I have personal feelings about waste and those products, but any sort of resources put in that direction is a positive thing.”

 

In 2014 two 16-year-olds named Nadya Okamoto and Vincent Forand established the nonprofit organization called PERIOD: The Menstrual Movement based on three principles: Serve, Educate, and Advocate. Since their founding, PERIOD has helped serve over 850,000 individuals through product distribution. They also have over 450 chapters in all 50 states and in over 30 countries that act as their home base for their fight to end period poverty and period stigma. Each chapter location distributes products to women in need, runs educational workshops, and holds different events to help raise awareness and fight for systemic change. 

 

Always is one of PERIOD’s sponsors, but it’s also heading up its own fight to end period poverty. The company has partnered with Feeding America to help supply millions of families in the US with period products. They have also partnered with Sophia Bush, a Westridge alumna, actress, and advocate, in order to rally support. 
 

To further their fight for menstrual equality, PERIOD launched the first-ever National Period Day on October 19 this year. Rallies were held in all 50 states and across four countries, during which protesters demanded an end to period poverty and the pink tax: the extra tax put on menstrual products, making them luxury items rather than basic necessities. 

 

 

 

 

 

“We know that if men had periods, we would not be taxing them on their menstrual products,” explained Julia S. ’21. “It’s unfair that just because I’m a woman and have a period my cost of living has to be higher.” 

 

Organizations like PERIOD and Always are making strides towards ending period poverty and period stigma through activism and support from local communities and organizations. Westridge is lucky enough to have enough resources where students do not have to experience a lack of menstruation products, but we can help others through supporting and donating to the Menstrual Movement as well as continuing to break down the stigma around periods within Westridge.

   

“Westridge used to have boxes of free pads and tampons, which I know were provided by our old HD teacher Zanny,” said Julia S. ’21. “I think that it was an amazing thing and made me more comfortable about talking about my period, and I would love to see them back in the bathroom.”

Photograph from The Period Movement Instagram showing volunteers putting together their menstrual supply packs.