Girls Smell, Pass It On.

disgustedWhen I was a little girl at school, a boy once told me that he didn’t like sitting next to girls because they were smelly and they had fleas. Presumably to prove his point he touched the tip of his index finger to my shoulder for a split second before immediately starting to spin around, wide eyed, clutching at his throat, and making dramatic retching noises before falling in a convulsive heap to the floor. Hm. My fleas were clearly supersonic and as a result I was deemed particularly smelly.

Fast-forward to my early teenage years and my first, furtive forays into that special place where nobody’s dad ever went – the most hushed, secret aisle in the whole of Boots. Judy Blume eat your heart out. Suddenly I was confronted with a world I never knew existed.

The world of… “Feminine Hygiene.” So far, so euphemistic.

It was there that I discovered my very first love. Ah tampons. Non-applicator tampons. So convenient! So small and easy to carry around! No wrestling with sticky wayward wings! Bloody brilliant!

What I also found though, was that if one hung about for too long in the Feminine Hygiene section admiring the tampons, one inevitably found themselves confronted with an altogether different animal: the ‘intimate feminine wash,’ and its sorry little sister, the ‘intimate feminine wipe.’  The packaging was invariably pastel pink, with yet more euphemistically thick-petaled flowers on it. It took me a while to work out what was meant by ‘intimate’, and why it might need its own wash and wipe, and then, Aha! Of course!

It was because girls were smelly and they had fleas.

Seriously, up until that point it had never occurred to me that my vagina might be a special kind of dirty. That it might harbour a special kind of filth warranting its own special kind of cleaning product that needed to be stored in the special aisle of Boots where nobody’s dad ever went. I’d just been naively going about my daily business of ordinary showering all this time without so much as a single thought for “foul odours.” And suddenly I was a little concerned. Was there something my mother wasn’t telling me?

Of course now I am older and wiser and I hold no truck with the poonani police. Any marketing message that dares state to me, “Ew, you have a vagina? So sorry for you. Here, have a wipe,” is going to get short shrift. Scented sanitary towels feel my wrath! My vagina is just lovely as it is thank you very much. A thing of beauty. It does not need prettifying, plucking, or perfuming.

I still love non-applicator tampons though. Lil-lets, if you’re reading, thank you so so much. Sniff.


This post is a tweaked version of something I wrote for In The Powder Room last year. I’ve reposted it here because I am lazy. And also because I still like it.

About Gappy

Blogger and single mother of three. Likes cake. Hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles - if you don't like them, I have others.
This entry was posted in Politics and feminism. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Girls Smell, Pass It On.

  1. Steve says:

    Personally I rather like girls who are a bit dirty.

  2. Iota says:

    Applicators rule! (IMHO)

  3. Iota says:

    Blogging’s weird, isn’t it? I mean, why do I feel the need to share my opinion on applicators with you?

  4. Apprenticemum says:

    What these pastel packs of noo noo wipes don’t state is that they are stuffed with so many chemicals and perfumes that they will have you scratching like a dog with fleas in no time at all. Give me simple soap any day!

  5. Lauren Purdy says:

    Haha this made me giggle. I personally wouldn’t dream of picking something up from that isle. Femfresh – no thank you!! I am fine just as I am :p

  6. Hannah says:

    I remember, when I was about eleven, finding a bottle of Vagisil Feminine Soap in my grannie’s bathroom. She also had a bidet, so I expect she was very clean and tidy Down Below.

  7. Joy says:

    The people who create these things are mental, only a man could come up with “feminine wipes”, just some fresh water does the trick for me

  8. nikki says:

    it’s probably fair to say that a minimum of daily hygiene benefits also your vagina,
    but our smart sexy part has actually a sort of ‘self-cleaning’ capability, meaning it will rather expel than keep in whatever dirty you may have gathered down there.. vaginal hygiene products, or most of them, have been proven to increase fungal infections, soreness and the like, because they disturb the ‘vaginal microflora’ (which is such a pretty expression !!)
    oh, and i also like the small tampons better. i don’t even understand applicators.

  9. Carla says:

    I was a bit bemused reading this! My DH does all the shopping as I have RA and he has no problem buying/choosing pads then tampons for our teenaged daughter! He has a mother sister and a wife and experience of two pregnancies and births so er ??? Agree about the silly euphemisms and the aggressive marketing of unnecessary ‘products’ but that is retailers for you and I had fun with my two when they were younger pointing out these silly cons so they grew up taking these thingsz with a huge ‘pinch of salt’! Simples
    Sounds like you didn’t have a close relationship with your mum sadly if she left you to be prey to whatever came along – and you couldn’t even bounce it off her for the ‘truth’! But then home educating for five years and now being confined to bed with RA and always available for chats on anything is a distinct advantage – my YPs talk about (almost) everything – in fact I have had to drop hints that I don’t really need to hear some of it!
    BTW for every reason imaginable from landfill to cost to the expected deadly viral pandemic why not switch to fabric pads? Check out for period pads!

  10. Craig says:

    Thank you for answering a question that I have been too respectful and socialy awkward to ask.

    I for the life of my have never understood the ‘intimate’ range of products that are so heavily advertised on evening telly whilst your snaking and then re-thinking your snaking habits. Even a look back in to old biology books held nothing of clarification.

    So thank you.

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