Touch the Pickle
August 21, 2014 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Women in India face a whole host of period taboos such as sleeping apart from their husbands, not washing their hair, not touching jars of pickled foods, and not making cheese curd. Most women are too embarrassed to be seen purchasing sanitary napkins or even watching commercials for them. Napkin manufacturer, Whisper, has launched a campaign by addressing the taboo subject head on. So, go ahead and touch the pickle! posted by Foam Pants (26 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Ah, white pants .... apparently the universal sign for "I'm having my period".
posted by anastasiav at 2:41 PM on August 21 [12 favorites]

Makes about as much sense as any other tampon/sanitary pad commercial. Touch the pickle! Go waterskiing! Tennis?!
posted by angerbot at 2:41 PM on August 21

Is it weird that I want the "Touch the pickle" soundtrack as a ringtone?
posted by nathancaswell at 2:51 PM on August 21 [8 favorites]

Stop touching meeeee.
posted by mochapickle at 2:58 PM on August 21 [44 favorites]

See also the onion.
posted by poe at 3:20 PM on August 21

I'm just trying to remember that pickle, in other places, does not instantly bring images of whole cucumbers.
posted by jeather at 3:20 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

If I couldn't touch pickles due to taboos I'd starve one week in every four.
posted by winna at 3:22 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Thank you Indian marketing for adding another phrase to my repertoire* of menstruation euphemisms.


*meaning, one more besides "shark week"
posted by zinful at 3:23 PM on August 21 [11 favorites]

If you're willing to touch the pickle you had better be prepared for anything.
posted by Evilspork at 3:27 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

OK, this is going to sound deeply weird, but I don't touch leaves on plants that week because it makes them turn, and it's just sort of accepted knowledge in my family that this happens, so we don't touch plants. I always assumed it was some sort of pH thing. Not joking.

And I feel really stupid right now and sort of gobsmacked. Is this a Southern thing? I'm American.
posted by mochapickle at 3:30 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]

the don't-wear-white thing isn't a taboo - it's just common sense. there is no napkin/tampon/cup that doesn't leak (though cups are the least likely to leak, even given a really heavy day). Black doesn't stain.

that said, I stopped wearing white bottoms somewhere around age five, as I was never to be cured of sitting on the ground where ever I felt like. Black doesn't show the dirt.
posted by jb at 3:36 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]

Okay, any positive association between the word "pickle" and reproductive health was forever ruined by Jon Lovitz in A League of Their Own. I can only assume that the taboo is because that movie was very popular in India?
posted by Riki tiki at 4:25 PM on August 21

I remember being quite surprised when my mother explained to me why 18 & 19C women wore red flannel petticoats.

And no underpants either, in the 18C. "(under)Pants were ever so decent, when they first came out. Eccentrically decent."

I can't remember if Metafilter covered the whole Jessica Valenti tampon kerfuffle (the reason I personally now have comments switched off on the Guardian website)? Or the twitter thing about her research? Anyway, a serious public health issue affecting half of humanity; a major cause of structural inequality; a problem worth committed and strategic consideration.
posted by glasseyes at 4:32 PM on August 21

Pickles, yes?
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 4:39 PM on August 21

And no underpants either, in the 18C. "(under)Pants were ever so decent, when they first came out. Eccentrically decent."

It wasn't so much that it was "indecent" not to wear underpants; it's that they were just unnecessary given what women's clothing was like until the early 20th century. It would make no sense to wear a brief, tight-fitting garment under dresses, petticoats, skirts, hoops, etc. for the simple reason that when it came to relieving yourself, there is no convenient way way to pull down your underwear, lift your skirts, and squat all at the same time.
posted by scody at 4:45 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]

Beverly Sutphin: You can't wear white after Labor Day!
Juror #8: That's not true anymore.
Beverly Sutphin: Yes it is! Didn't your mother tell you? Now you know.
[She whacks her in the face with the phone]
Juror #8: No! Please! Fashion has changed!
Beverly Sutphin: No... it hasn't.

Does this mean women cannot touch the pickle after labor day?
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 5:43 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Mochapickle, I haven't heard of this tradition (American, but West Coast).
posted by c'mon sea legs at 6:36 PM on August 21

c'mon sea legs, thanks! I'm mortified, really.

I've been googling and found a few references to it here and in Canada. It even pops up on Snopes in the form of not touching fruit on trees that week.

While several of the taboos from the first article apply to my growing-up years, I have no idea where concept this came from, but I've thought this was truth for the past nearly 30 years. It's given me much to consider.

Foam Pants, you changed my life a little today. Thanks!
posted by mochapickle at 6:47 PM on August 21 [8 favorites]

mochapickle - Why not try an experiment to test this belief?
posted by amtho at 8:15 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Well, that's just the thing! I received some truly beautiful calla lilies once and absentmindedly ran my thumb along the silky inside of the petal. And then it turned brown. So I figured, stupid me, I should have known better than to touch it that week. I had some pothos that turned similarly.

Confirmation bias is a crazy thing.

I haven't had houseplants for years until just a few weeks ago. My mother has dozens of plants and I would do this elaborate watering-can routine sometimes to take care of them when she was away.
posted by mochapickle at 8:33 PM on August 21

From the Snopes link: Her very look, even, will dim the brightness of mirrors, blunt ... steel, and take away the polish from ivory. A swarm of bees, if looked upon by her, will die.

Wait, this sounds awesome? When do I get menstrual superpowers?!
posted by kagredon at 9:59 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]

If that plant-touching thing did work, we'd send menstrauting women out to fondle weeds to death.
posted by NoraReed at 11:15 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]

Perhaps the leaf wilting thing is because you are a pickle and the universe must compensate?
posted by Jilder at 3:41 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

White pants makes more sense than Foam Pants.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:46 AM on August 22

> If that plant-touching thing did work, we'd send menstrauting women out to fondle weeds to death.

Another superpower is how you just made coffee come out of my nose.
posted by desuetude at 7:59 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]

Any link to the actual study? Or rather, to the market survey commissioned by a company deeply interested in selling more product, and now said survey seems to say: yes, buy more product. If this was some other product in some other market, there would be a few critical voices, I think - particularly about a market survey of 1100 people among 1.26 billion. But it seems to check all the preconceived boxes, so here we are.
posted by vivekspace at 10:46 PM on September 4

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