HelloFlo, the American subscription service that ships customized period care packages — tampons, pads and treats — to your door, timed with your menstrual cycle, is once again ON POINT in its latest commercial, this time for its Period Starter Kit.
(We’re big HelloFlo fans at SIAC; here’s Marlo gushing over last year’s viral hit.)
In the clip, First Moon Party, we meet Katie, a tween straight out of a Judy Blume novel, who is wishin’ and hopin’ for a visit from Aunt Blood so that she, too, may join the venerated “cherry slush club.”
So, she does what any enterprising kid would do — she fakes it with some red glitter nail polish and a pad.
As punishment for lying, her awesome mom throws her a First Moon Party — which sounds amazing, quite frankly. Bobbing for ovaries! Pin the pad on the period! A VAGICIAN!
Having grown up in an era that was still all about the mystery blue liquid and ladies riding horses in white pants, these commercials are like a fresh pad after a long flight. They’re funny, frank and use correct anatomical words; ironically, the words vagina, uterus and ovaries are seldom used in ads for feminine hygiene products. In 2014.
Personally, I can’t say I was ever a Katie.
Don’t get me wrong; as an adult, I’m always THRILLED to see Aunt Flo — yay! not pregnant! — but when I got my period for the first time, I wasn’t so happy to see it.
I was 11, a CHILD. It was September. One of those hot, still-summer days. I was walking home from school reflecting on, what I thought was, a pretty successful day.
You know those moments where you feel perfectly content? This was one of those moments. I was wearing my favourite outfit — turquoise short overalls layered over a black T-shirt with a sunflower on it (it was 1996) — I had nailed a spelling quiz and the possibilities of a new school year were still stretched out before me. Life was awesome. I was awesome.
I got home, went into the bathroom, pulled down my panties and there it was: a brownish-red stain, signifying that I, Jen Zoratti, was now a woman.
I didn’t want to be a woman. I mean, I didn’t even have boobs yet.
My mom wasn’t home at the time of discovery, so I hastily stuck one of her pads over the stain and moved on with my life. When we had The Talk later, I distinctly remember asking her how long THIS was going to go on for.
“Well,” she said. “Until you’re about 50 or so.”
“FIFTY ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” I responded. (Just kidding, I was 11. I age-appropriately burst into tears.) I was simply not ready for this shit.
I mostly felt inconvenienced by my period, especially since it came with breathtaking regularity that year — regularity that I wouldn’t experience again until I went on the pill.
There was no cherry slush club; I’m pretty sure I was the first one in my class to ride the crimson wave.
Having to carry pads in the secret pouch of my blue-and-green MEC backpack (which I carried well into high school just in case you thought I was cool) felt like a source of humiliation, not pride.
My periods were heavy, too; I lived in fear of seepage and stains — which happened. A lot. I totaled many a pair of underwear.
That first year was filled with many ‘Say Anything’ moments, but its nadir came when I found myself without a pad OR a quarter to operate the ancient (and probably empty) pad dispenser in the girls bathroom.
Panicked and sweating, I managed to smuggle a roll of scotch tape into a stall undetected, where I Lady MacGyvered a pad out of toilet paper. (It worked about as poorly as you might expect.)
And then things got easier. I started junior high. My friends started getting their periods and, to them, I was something of an expert.
I developed my own pad preferences (extra thin, no wings) and began buying my own with confidence instead of raiding my mom’s stash of Always.
As I got older, the conversations among my friends became freer. We compared flow, colour and viscosity; debating pads vs. tampons vs. diva cups; dealing with PMS and cramps; weighing the pros and cons of sex on the rag.
These days, I have a pretty good relationship with Aunt Blood, especially when she shows up on time.
Eighteen years after I first got it, I no longer view my period as embarrassing or shameful — even when my puppy high-tails it out of the bathroom and does a triumphant victory lap around the living room with a used, rolled-up maxi stuck to his face.
I can’t help but think that if I had seen ad campaigns like HelloFlo’s back when I was 11 that I would have arrived at that conclusion sooner.
Periods don’t have glitter in them, but sometimes they’re not so bad.