A grocery chain asked people to report tampon shoplifters. It sparked a backlash about women's health.
Tampons are expensive. In 2015, women spent $3.1 billion on feminine hygiene products, including tampons. Women spend an estimated $150 million a year just on the sales tax for menstrual products. Most women spend around 30 years menstruating and spend an average of $144 a year just on tampons or pads. And did we mention that tampons are expensive? According to nonprofit PERIOD, one in four women have a hard time affording menstrual products. But if you don't get a period, you might not be aware of how much of a burden periods really are.
British grocery store chain Tesco recently put up signs asking customers to report shoplifters in a London location. Twitter user @oonskie posted a photo of one sign reading, "Help us build safer communities–report shoplifting to a member of the staff." The only problem was, it was placed above the tampons.
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The sign quickly opened up a discussion about the accessibility of menstrual products.
Some people said they would turn a blind eye if they saw someone shoplifting tampons.
Some people even called out a double standard, because condoms are often given away for free.
Menstrual products are a necessity, however many states don't treat them as such by subjecting them to the "tampon tax." While some states have done away with the "tampon tax," 33 states consider menstrual products a luxury item and don't exempt them from higher sales taxes the same way food, medicine, and even Viagra is. The tampon tax creates an unfair burden, especially since the cost of menstrual products ads up. Tampons are only really considered a luxury to the people who don't actually have to use them.
Tesco has since apologized for the sign, saying it was placed there "in error." "We know that the cost of buying essential sanitary products can be a real struggle for some, which is why we were the first retailer to cover the cost of the 'tampon tax' to make these items more affordable," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores and are very sorry for any offense caused."
When you hit puberty, you don't say, "I would like one period please," and opt in to menstruation. It's time we stop treating periods as something women do because they just want to be fancy.