Judging by my Facebook feed, I may be the only woman I know who isn't laughing at the new ad for HelloFlo. HelloFlo is a "period starter kit" that provides young gals with all of the equipment they need to get through their first period or three. Not a bad concept, really.
Don't get me wrong. Normally I'm a huge fan of irreverence, sass and calling a spade a spade. But something really bothers me about this ad. (Warning: Man friends, you may hear more about this subject than you want to if you keep reading. But you are more than welcome to read on.)
I have two daughters (7 and 5) and because there is very little privacy in my house, they are all too aware of my "cycles." Back when they were first able to converse about this I make a conscious decision to re-message what periods could mean to this new generation of girls, two of whom are living with me.
Instead of making it all about the hassle, the embarrassment of "accidents" and the aches, I figured I would focus instead on two things: 1) the meaning behind the bleeding and 2) the opportunity to care for ourselves a bit more carefully during this time of the month.
Meaning Behind the Bleeding?
It is certainly true that I don't love that time of the month. But it is also true that fertility is a power so essential, we would be extinct without it. A woman's ability to grow a new human is still considered an astonishing miracle - even in the age of Google Glass and self-driving vehicles. Women the world over who possess the gift of fertility out-perform Michelangelo... The Sistine Chapel is nothing compared to the sweet perfection of a newborn child. So, yeah, once a month we women have to clean house and get ready for the next cycle of possibility. Seems like a small price to pay.
And if that "possibility" isn't one we are open to, we make choices that align with that, and when it is something we are open to, we make a different set of choices. This kind of thinking honors what we are as women, and encourages the kind of thoughts that promote healthy self-esteem in young girls bombarded with hyper-sexualized images starting at age 0.
Slowing Down: A New Badge of Courage?
Unfortunately, given how much I model the celebration of busy-ness in my house (mostly unconsciously), I am grateful that I can also use my cycle as an opportunity to model slowing down. Get some extra sleep. Say "no" to that invitation I would normally push myself to accept. Not from a place of "poor me!" but from a place of "I choose me today over busy-ness."
So when I saw the ad and the sassy "Camp Gyno" bent over another little girl in fetal position who is mourning the pain of tampon insertion, and listening to Gyno girl say, "This is your life now..." I cringed. That message might as well have said, "Welcome to hell. Suck it up, little girl..." As if periods are just another way life is screwing us over. What a welcome to womanhood, right?
Instead, can we celebrate the seasonality of what IS? Can we be honest that, yes, it's inconvenient, but it also has meaning and purpose, and here's how you take care of yourself during this time? To me it seems like insanity to hate something that is such a part of who we are, and then drive ourselves crazy with grief once we are too old to experience it. Am I alone on this?
So to the folks at HelloFlo - I am thrilled to see us talking about menstruation in a way that is out of the shadows, but did you have to make it seem so hideous?