Long before the current fad in Reality TV shows that trade in humiliation and embarrassment, the prevailing menstrual culture inculcated in women a feeling that exposure of the fact that a period was in progress was a social catastrophe.  However, just as “The Biggest Loser” invites participants to parade their socially unacceptable bodies before the cameras for fame and fortune, there are times when women are invited to share their stories of menstrual humiliation in exchange for a moment of media recognition and even a cute photo spread.

Consider the October 1, 2007, issue of FIRST: for women on the go, a supermarket checkout publication.  A regular column titled “First Blush” that specialized in sharing readers’ “mortifying moments” in this issue was titled “My most mortifying tampon moment!”  It consists of four letters from women aged 35 to 50 relating stories of an exposed string, a blood stain on a car seat, dog mischief, and a child’s blurted remark about her mothers’ “bagina.”

The piece is illustrated by the smiling author of one of the letters, “Meg Fitzpatrick, 42, Yardly, PA” whose story about the adorable daughter’s outburst earns her a prized photo in the magazine.

Accompanying the article is some promotional copy for a product called “The Combpanion Tampon and Pantiliner Case” that is described as “a hair comb with a hidden compartment in its hollow handle” so that the reader can “carry a tampon . . . without fear of being spotted holding your feminine product.”

I’m prompted to wonder what an equivalent column in a men’s magazine would look like.  Do men ever have “mortifying moments?”

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