Old Wives Tales and Periods

imageI knew there was some kind of big, stupid mystery even before my “sometimes” friend Margaret Green broke the news to me in the fourth grade.  My grandma had started badgering me not to go barefoot and had taken to sneaking peeks at my underwear when she was sorting laundry.

This is some interesting information and dire warnings I was given regarding health care of young ladies after the onset of puberty. My maternal grandmother hissed these warnings at me, though she was hazy on rationale  Girls should never go barefoot or get their feet wet after they go into puberty. (She made no mention of how I was to wash my feet or bathe.). I must never bathe or get my head wet or ride a horse during my period.  She offered as proof the fact that when my grandpa’s sister was only sixteen, she was riding a horse just before she got ready to take a job as a teacher in her first school.  She got caught in a rainstorm while she was having her period and was soaked to the skin.  She got galloping pneumonia and died before daybreak.  I was never sure if all these variables had to be included for the situation to be deadly.  Perhaps if she had been fifteen, walking to her job as a clerk in a store while she was having her period and broke out in chicken pox, she might have escaped with only a few scars on her face.

Also, Grandma warned me young girls shouldn’t ever go swimming.  “Never?”  I was appalled.

Then she told me of a stubborn cousin of hers who went swimming all the time.  “Even when she was expecting!  Everyone of her kids had epileptic fits!”

Mother had her own ridiculous rules about hygiene.  Hair could only be washed once a week, and never during you period.  That was a disaster for us with our oily hair.  I’d try to slip around and wash it more often, but she watched us.  She insisted on giving us hideous home perms.  They were awful!  I was so glad when Mother had to much on her mind to to to keep up with trying to enforce all her mindless rules.

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41 thoughts on “Old Wives Tales and Periods

  1. How I remember those silly tales! We even used a period as an excuse not to do gym – standard saying: “I’m unwell.” Then a new gym teacher said “If you’re unwell, I need a doctor’s note. Otherwise, you do gym – AND have a shower afterwards!” Shock, horror!! But it didn’t kill us after all.

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  2. Those are some strange superstitions. My mum never even told me about periods. and was totally unapproachable about that sort of thing! She bought me some pads and I had to get on with it!

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  3. Heard a few of these myself: no swimming or washing your hair at that time of the month, and virgins couldn’t use tampons. Yeah right. Tampons set me free: I’d run out of towels and got caught short, but luckily had a free sample pack of tampons. I never looked back, went swimming when I wanted and washed my hair every other day! As for the virginity bit, hell, I’d been using tampons for years before I lost mine!

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  4. Again with that once a week shampoo thing…what the ??? Was there a manual somewhere ? It seemed to be universal. ☺ I have so many menses stories about bad information. I can’t even….

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  5. Oh gosh the superstitions!!!! I know that my mother in law believes if you have your period, you can’t touch the pickles that are made… Because they will all go bad…. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but if I am at that time of the month, I just hand that responsibility over to her at mealtimes! It’s funny, but I have seen some go bad, and worry whether my sis in law or I touched it by mistake!!!!

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  6. A friend of mine told me she used to have to buy her own shampoo when she was growing up. When I asked why, she said her dad thought everyone should use bar soap like he did and her mother wouldn’t let her wash her hair when she had her period. She said “screw it” to both those things and did what she pleased.

    I was so relieved after finally having a much needed hysterectomy that I told the doctor I was going to have a tampon burning party. I should have bought stock in Tampax, I spent so much on it.

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  7. I had an aunt like this. Staying with her was pretty awful once I hit puberty.
    She’s really not a nice person, or she stopped being nice then. I’m not sure.
    Child me loved her tho, so that’s nice.

    I hear people say things like these still to this day. Galls me.

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    • I hope gender issues gets better. I think that’s what it’s really about. I always knew my father wanted boys. Once I hit puberty he shut me out and turned me over to mother. Men raised the boys. Women raised girls. My sisters son died. My BIL told her my chil died. You’ve still got yours.. The girl felt it. She is a mess. I admire u tremendouslyand suspect you’re lovely.

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