I remember reading Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret in third or fourth grade; for those of you who aren't familiar with it (I suspect most women around my age are), it's Judy Blume's classic coming-of-age story about a girl waiting to start her period.
It baffled the **** out of me, frankly.
While an open, candid, and compassionate take on pubescent girlhood, it was unfortunately written sometime in the early 60s, I guess, when there was a lot more apparatus involved in feminine protection products. It all sounded pretty complicated: hooks and straps, belts and pads, harnesses and girdles and god knows what. At least that's my recollection.
I remember thinking, "I've seen pads in the store, but where the hell am I going to get all this other stuff?"
I was relieved to learn, once I got a little older and my friends started menstruating (I was pretty much the last one of my crowd to start), that all that stuff was obsolete, and that it had all become comparatively simple.
I finally got a glimpse of what Judy Blume was referring to in Margaret after I had my first child, when the nurses strapped some kind of weird belt onto me, that had straps with snaps and a big giant fat pad that went between my legs.
It's hard to believe that women used to wear such contraptions every month, not just immediately post-partum.