The Power of Period Products

Reagan Tomczak

Women all around the globe often find themselves in troublesome positions when their monthly cycles appear without warning. Especially with young high school girls who are still learning to track their cycles and whose cycles might be irregular, asking for assistance from a teacher or fellow female can often be intimidating. Rusty hygiene product machines are no help as it’s hard to find one that’s not empty or broken into. Wasting a quarter on nothing simply isn’t worth it. Resorting to bunched-up toilet paper is often the result, leaving girls feeling awkward, uncomfortable, and unseen for the remainder of the day.

Like all of society, Cardinal Gibbons girls were not exempt from this pattern. Luckily, the addition of menstrual product vending machines, completely free of charge, has changed the narrative. Mrs. Taylor and Ms. Derouin, project leaders, are the two masterminds behind this equity-driven decision. With many Gibbons girls, these two educators identified a need for these products, hoping to help students and faculty by making their lives just a little bit easier.

These female educators hoped to normalize the natural experience by offering free menstrual products to girls in need, reminding so man that “you are not alone.” 

Paige Derouin, one of the program’s co-leaders, hopes students will make use of these free products, saying, “It’s so important that all students on campus feel comfortable in the learning environment,” Derouin said. “We understand that there are many causes of stress for students at school, and feel strongly that having to ask friends, strangers, or the nurse for a menstrual product shouldn’t be one of them. It was so important to our administration that these products were not only available but also free of charge for anyone who needs them.” 

The two machines, found in the learning commons and cafeteria restrooms, are labeled with friendly signs, inviting those in need to take what they require and to inform either moderator if the machines are running low. In the past six months, 500 tampons and 500 pads have been distributed to the Cardinal Gibbons community, totaling to an impressive 1,000 menstrual products. It’s safe to say that these machines have already made an impact.

This system was put into place only six months ago, but positive feedback has already found its way to Taylor and Derouin. Girls all around campus have had positive reviews on the machines, glorifying their convenience and requesting more dispensers in the future. 

Information sheets are found in every restroom regarding the hygiene products dispensers

With all of this being said, it is important to recognize the stigma surrounding menstruation in modern-day society. Mrs. Debbie Taylor, co-leader of this menstrual products movement, is extremely passionate about the message behind these machines. “We hope to promote menstrual equity,” Taylor said. “It’s super important that we erase the stigma of having a period and promoting that it’s a natural part of life.”

Girls often feel they need to hide their periods, regardless of the normality of this process and its necessity for humanity’s existence. Menstrual cycles simply are not discussed enough. However, the presence of these machines alone does so much for so many girls in the community.

Knowing that there are always resources available if a period is to show up unannounced brings ease to many. Watching fellow students take from the machines is a reminder that menstrual cycles aren’t something that girls should be forced to hide. They are natural, complex, and far too important to ignore.