A video was floating around this week called “The Camp Gyno”. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here:
Hilarious, right?! I loved it. Clever way to advertise your product, fun copy, great little girl.
The thing that kept hitting me though was “Holy shit. That 13 year old girl is using tampons for her FIRST period?! And all those other 13 year olds are using tampons for their first periods?!”
Now, maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t had my coffee yet, or maybe it’s the fact that periods have been on my mind a lot lately, but I immediately felt shame and embarrassment. When I was 13 I wasn’t using tampons for my first period. I mean, shit, when I got my first period I was so scared that I started crying and stayed home from school!
(sidenote: I have very few memories from my childhood and my memory, even now, is terrible…but I remember my first period. Interesting!)
When I got my first period, I didn’t use tampons. When I got my second period, I didn’t use tampons. When I had my hundredth period, I didn’t use tampons. Big Secret Reveal: I didn’t use tampons until I was 28. I could never really figure them out. They always felt weird. I got the hang of using a god damn menstrual cup before I got the hang of using tampons! I’ve finally found a brand I like and can now proudly keep tampons in my desk at work…but before them, it was always pads.
I’ve felt embarrassed that I never used tampons. At cottages I would change into my swimsuit and as soon as we were out of the lake I would change back out hoping nothing ‘happened’. When colleagues would come up to me and ask if I had any ‘supplies’ they could borrow, I’d offer them pads and get shot down with a weird look “Um. No, nevermind. That’s fine.” I would see baskets overflowing with tampons on my friends bathroom counters and knew they were better than me.
I wasn’t a real woman because I couldn’t use tampons.
When I finally got the hang of tampons, I remember wanting to tell the world. “I’VE DONE IT, LADIES! I AM ONE OF YOU! I CAN RUN AND JUMP AND WEAR DRESSES AND PLAY BEACH VOLLEYBALL NOW JUST LIKE YOU!” I felt like I was part of the club. The cool girls would like me. I could freely offer “supplies” to any colleague who was in need. I could have tampons in my purse and when they fell on to the ground I could giggle and say ‘oops’ while flashing a muscular hot guy a smile. I could take on the world.
It took me 16 years to use tampons. What the hell was wrong with me? These girls in the commercials, they’re 13 and they’re using tampons. They’re excited! They’re running and free! Those girls in the commercials are using tampons! What was wrong with me?
So then I started thinking…if this commercial is having that effect on ME, a 29 year old woman, what effect could it have on a 13 year old who maybe wasn’t having the best luck herself? Are there teenage girls out there with improperly inserted tampons, uncomfortably trying to forget about the pain and leaking, hoping they don’t burst into tears in math class? Are they embarrassed at the fact that they wear pads? Do they spend hours in their rooms each night with mirrors in their hands and tampon instruction booklets on their beds, trying to get it in so it ‘feels like it isn’t there’?
While I don’t really see the need for the product (it’s a website that sends you a ‘gift’ of pads, tampons, chocolate, etc each month for your cycle. I mean, 1 – it’s cheaper to buy that shit at the store, ladies. And 2 – this company came out about a year ago, and I guess they saw that they weren’t making the numbers they wanted, so now they’re targeting young girls who will beg mommy to buy it for her like it’s the latest McDonald’s happy meal…which I guess makes sense business-wise?) the ad really is hilarious. But a word to girls out there:
EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. EVERY GIRL IS DIFFERENT. DON’T BE ASHAMED OF WHAT MENSTRUAL PRODUCT YOU’RE USING, BECAUSE UNLESS SOMEONE ELSE IS HANGING OUT DOWN THERE DURING YOUR PERIOD, YOU SHOULD JUST USE WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU.
I still keep my bathroom stocked with tampons and pads, even though I don’t use them very often. And I still keep my desk drawer stocked with both, too. I’m well prepared for any time of the month. But the other day, as I was pulling my keys out of my purse on the sidewalk, a pad floated to the ground. It just fell out. Boom. My friend laughed and I could feel my face turning red. I guess I’m still a bit embarrassed after all these years, even though I’m practically a period pro.
Next stop: buy some homemade reusable pantyliners and wear them with pride. (Ha. Yeah. I’ll need another 16 years for that one…)