Apparently, a tampon is more of a luxury than a pitta bread.

The affectionately known 'tampon tax' is something that has rattled me for ages.  I've never quite understood why sanitary towels and tampons are deemed to be a "luxury".

Yet, as one Labour MP explained in Parliament recently, there are quite a few discrepancies over what are deemed luxuries and necessities.  Razor blades, jaffa cakes and even pitta breads are zero rated, thus deeming them more of a "necessity" than tampons or sanitary towels.

I'm sorry, but when Mother Nature makes her monthly visit to me I would deem a tampon far more of a necessity than a pitta bread (maybe not more than a jaffa cake - you know, chocolate and all that!)  What use is a bloody pitta bread?! You can't even make a proper sandwich out of it!

Yet these "necessities" - which are clearly more of a treat - are deemed more of an essential to our lives than a tampon?

My point is, to women, tampons and sanitary towels are among the most essential of items.  They're right up there with a bra - and even a bra isn't essential at night like a tampon or pad is!

Surely the only reason we are being taxed on them is because the government recognise their necessity to women and know they can always make money from it?  It's not like taxes on cigarettes or alcohol where sales will often fluctuate depending on time of year or big sporting occasion - the sales of tampons and sanitary items will be constant because women always need them.

If the tampon tax is to stay, then surely a tax should be added to a "luxury" male item - such as hair gel or razor blades.  After all, adding loads of product to your quiff is far more of a "luxury" than ensuring we don't see blood flowing freely from our nether regions every month.

Whatever will be next - will we be taxed on deodorant or shampoo because it's deemed luxury?  These items ensure that we all keep ourselves hygienic - which is exactly the purpose of tampons and sanitary towels.

I'm not one to harp on usually about gender inequalities etc, and it pains me a little bit to say it, but this is a glaring example of how women can be the victims of an unequal society.

If tampons or sanitary towels really were a "luxury", then only a handful of women would use them.  The rest would get by.  I'd consider Fox's biscuits a luxury - I'll only buy them when they're on offer.  This is what the attitude towards tampons and sanitary towels would be.  But it's not.  Do you know why?  Because it would be obvious!  And no woman in the world wants everyone to know when she's on her period.  Making these little saviours an absolute necessity.  For not only our personal hygiene but for our personal lives.


A special #ThrowbackThursday - a look at the last decade

As I approach my 24th birthday (I thought that was so old when I was little!) I've taken a little trip down memory lane at my birthday celebrations from the past decade.  Right back to the days where, before your friends came for a sleepover, your mum had to ring their mum to ask if they were allowed some 'alcopops' whilst they were round and, if so, how many.

As I trawled through the many albums of photos on my Facebook I came across some absolute horrors.  I'm sure we all think the same when looking at old pictures - what were we thinking?!

Apologies in advance for the old/embarrassing pictures that I have unearthed but it's always nice to look back and remember how far we have all come!  From braces, glasses, bad foundation and acne (and that's just me!) to where we are today, ten years on.

14th birthday - 2005

If I remember rightly, my 14th birthday was a girly sleepover at my house.  Mum and dad took my brother and his friends to the cinema and I was under strict instructions not to invite loads of people round and trash the house (mum and dad even got the neighbours to sit watching the house all night to make sure that nobody else came round!)

At 14 I had my first boyfriend, I had shed the 'geek' look a little and I finally had a group of girl friends.

We ate pizza and sweets, watched girly films, and were allowed two WKDs or Smirnoff Ice's each - rock and roll!

**2005 was well before Facebook so unfortunately all those photos from that night are lost forever on my old MySpace, Bebo and Piczo pages. Good news for the girls that were there, though!**

15th birthday - 2006

My 15th birthday was a big party - the first time I'd had a party for all my friends from school that wasn't a bouncy castle and chicken nuggets and chips in knock-off 'Happy Meal' boxes at Abbey Leisure Centre!

 It was supposed to be a joint party with my best friend at the time but, in true teenage girl style, we fell out and ended up having two separate parties.  I couldn't even tell you what we fell out about now, which makes me sad.  We even bought matching dresses to wear to our joint party - which we both then wore to our individual parties - so it wasn't all doom and gloom!

16th birthday - 2007

My 16th was another party but this time much smaller and at my house (in the garage to be precise).  Mum and dad put a little gazebo on the drive and put all twinkly lights in it - it was really cute actually. The only problem?  My birthday is October so it was absolutely freezing!

I powered through for so long before resorting to my pyjamas and one of the boy's hoodies!

17th birthday - 2008

I didn't have a party for my 17th, instead me and a group of my friends went to an Italian restaurant in town for a meal.  I remember feeling so grown up going out for a sophisticated birthday meal.

We tried to pretend it was my 18th birthday so that we could get some alcohol and go out in town afterwards (I even had an 18 badge) but I don't recall that working out all too well for us!

18th birthday - 2009

My 18th birthday was absolutely amazing!  I had a huge party at the pub in Drax and a massive marquee outside all decorated with lights and banners and glitter.

I decided I wanted a theme so that I could wear the complete opposite and stand out from everyone else.  I loved that everyone stuck to the theme (pink and black) with some going to a massive effort to stick to it.

The pub and marquee were packed all night and so many people came that the pub took more money on my birthday night than it had in the previous three months combined!!

19th birthday - 2010

My 19th birthday fell on the last night of our freshers.  And, my god, did I handle it badly.

It was my first birthday away from home and, being a little sensitive soul, I was so emotional all night.  I was also a little intoxicated, which I don't think helped proceedings.

I spent all night crying and drinking and crying some more, then drinking some more.

What I remember from the night, it wasn't my favourite birthday...!

20th birthday - 2011

A much calmer, classier affair, my 20th birthday was a meal out with my uni friends at an all you can eat buffet (helloooo) and a meal with my family.  No drunken debauchery or tears, just smiles and loads of food.

21st birthday - 2012

My 21st fell midweek which, to the full-time worker, is soul destroying but, to a student, is the best!  It was on a Wednesday which just so happened to be our favourite night out at the union - a cheesy 90s and 00s pop night.

We had all my friends round for pre-drinks before heading out and, according to the pictures, stealing sunglasses from people.

Then at the weekend I went home and celebrated with a family party and another night out with home friends.

22nd birthday - 2013

My first birthday post-uni and I wasn't ready to grow up just yet!  So off we went on a very drunken night out in York! 

23rd birthday - 2014

Last year's birthday was a much classier affair.

Me and mum went for lunch with my auntie:

I had a meal with mum, dad and Tom where mum presented her masterpiece for the year (she always makes me incredible cakes for my birthday!)

 And my and Tom went for a very posh meal at a restaurant in Leeds:

24th birthday - 2 days away

Looking back over the last ten years' birthdays have made me feel very nostalgic but also terrified at how fast time has gone.  Which leads me nicely into yesterday's post about how fast time is going.


The speed of time is always the same, yet it's never the speed we want

Every single day I find myself saying 'I can't believe that was x amount of years ago!'.  Most recently, thanks to my Timehop and 'On This Day' on Facebook, I'm reminded that I started university a whole five years ago.  FIVE YEARS AGO!

Each day, I'm greeted with photos of a fresh-faced 18-year-old enjoying freshers and settling into university life.  Fast forward five years and I now get up for work at the time I going to bed, and am going to bed at the time I was going out.  I can't function without at least eight hours sleep and hangovers tend to now stick around for at least a whole day.  There'd be no chance of me being able to manage a shift at work, lectures/seminars and a spin class on a hangover now.

When I started college (which I still can't believe was seven years ago!) one of my tutors said to me that time is man-made concept and can be one of the most difficult psychological barriers to overcome.  People become obsessed with time - either that it is running out for them to get something done, or it is going too slow before the weekend, or it's going too fast and they can't keep up.

Time always goes at the same speed, yet it's never the speed we want it to.  When we're looking forward to something, it seems to drag.  Yet when something exciting is happening or it's a happy occasion, time flies.

When I look back on the last few years, my time at university in particular, I realise how fast time is going.  When I was little, time used to feel like it went so slow - but that was because I had no real concept of time.  Now, weeks and months fly by in the blink of an eye.

I am guilty of sometimes wishing my time away, which I know I will regret when I'm older and wish I had savoured each moment more.

There's no cure to stopping time going so fast, just like there's no way to speed time up.  I've always wished I had a Bernard's Watch (every 90's kid at one point in their lives has wanted one of them, though) so that I could stop time and savour a moment or get something done quicker.

All we can do is live for the moment - enjoy everything that's happening when it's happening.  We only get to do each day once, so it's worth doing right.