Update: In a recent tweet, Alyssa Mastromonaco, former deputy chief of staff for operations to President Obama, suggested that the White House tampon machine installed thanks to her initiative is now out of order. A friend sent her a photo that she said was of the machine, showing a sign on it that says, "Permanently out of service."
Mastromonaco responded, "OMFG how can it be [permanently] out of service?! A tampon machine - it’s got a dial! @WhiteHouse."
A White House spokesperson told Refinery29 that the dispenser is being replaced. "The dispenser on the ground floor was barely working, so [the General Services Administration] is replacing it and in the meantime they have made available feminine products on the counter for free use until the machine is fixed," she said.
We reached out to Mastromonaco and will update this story when we hear back.
This story was originally published on March 16, 2017.
Back in middle school, we lived for a good YM "Say Anything" moment. But we never imagined that we'd read about one happening in the White House. Alyssa Mastromonaco, former deputy chief of staff for operations to President Obama, experienced just that. Except she wasn't in eighth grade; she was serving as an adviser for the highest office in the country.
In her new book Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, Mastromonaco describes an "Oh my God, oh my God, no no no" situation that led to the installation of the White House's first-ever tampon machine.
It all started with an all-too-familiar story of a pair of destroyed J.Crew capris that Mastromonaco loved, People magazine reports — during a dinner with her fellow female senior staffers. From then on, Mastromonaco says she "made it my mission to get a tampon dispenser in the West Wing women’s bathroom." By the time Obama left office, half of his senior staffers were women — up from one-third in the beginning of his administration. A tampon machine was more than in order.
"If we were truly serious about running a diverse operation and bringing more women into politics, we should give the office a basic level of comfort for them," she writes. "Even if you had to pay a quarter, it would be better than menstruating all over the Oval."
Good thing Mastromonaco immediately got her wish granted, turning a cringeworthy moment into a win for women. (Better late than never.) And "since they didn’t engrave the tampon dispenser with 'Made possible by Alyssa Mastromonaco,'" she wanted to commemorate it in her book. "I wanted to leave a record of it somewhere."
The memoir, which will be out on March 21, also recounts personal stories about President Obama, like how many times he tried to set up the single Mastromonaco on dates. His most successful matchmaking attempt had nothing to do with romance, though: After he introduced his staffer to Mindy Kaling at a dinner, they're still good friends years later.