breaking up is hard

Get with Gen KI’ve been enjoying the recent U by Kotex campaign, “GET WITH generation KNOW”. However, after studying their past campaign “Break the Cycle, for what seemed like an unending “cycle”, the same feelings of unease and frustration abound.

Is U by Kotex sharing “truths” that women need to know? Yes. Are they doing it well from a marketing standpoint? Absolutely! Are they telling women the truths when it comes to the products they are selling?

No.

If you are not familiar with the campaign, this video will help you out:

This video features some great facts about menstrual and vaginal health that all women should know. The only thing I would discourage women from doing is to look to U by Kotex for guidance about period care. Women need to “Get with Generation

When a company doesn’t disclose that their products contribute to both environmental waste and compromises women’s health, they aren’t really letting their customers “in the know”.

And, let’s not forget the 2012 KC Natural Balance Security recall over bacteria traces and metal particles as well as and the case of the moldy tampon. Wouldn’t those in “the know” want to know what really happened with thees two cases? And isn’t this type of media platform a perfect place for such conversation to occur? If you are going to make a video unveiling the truths about period care, these two “scares” should definitely make an appearance.

I am well aware that KC sharing options like menstrual cups or reusable cloth pads with their customers wouldn’t be the best corporate decision, but if they can’t be honest, they should change their tag line.

Being “in the know” about vaginal health and menstrual care, and more specifically about the history of Gen know braceletfemcare products, should include honest discussion of the whole industry, not just the elements that contribute to U by Kotex’s profit margin.

One unique element of the campaign is their “i know” bracelet which fans are encouraged to request (for free) and wear proudly! While I agree that these little gems can be a good conversation starter… what will the conversation be about? Will it be about the taboos of menstruation? The fallacies surrounding proper vaginal care? Or will it be about their new tampon purchase?

My hope is that these bracelets will help spread the word about the truths of menstrual and vaginal health. However, my concern is that they may also encourage young women to buy a product that  is not different, but rather the same as those of decades past, laden with chemicals, plastics and a deep history of menstrual waste and shame.

I want to leave you with a video that is all about break ups. You read right and might be asking break up with whom?

In the summer of 2012, Sarah wrote a song (with the help of U by Kotex fans) about breaking up with her old tampon.

Merriam Webster online defines a break up as: “to end a romance”, “to bring to an end” and “to do away with” among many more. Given these definitions  shouldn’t a break up in femcare resemble an actual break up – moving from what once was (a tampon) to something new (a menstrual cup or cloth pad)? Of course, as with all products there are always upgrades in the KC product line: colour, width, length and ingredient list, but at the end of the day they are still selling women a disposable product.

I’m going to turn things over to Sarah now and just in case you miss what she’s saying, I’ve added the lyrics below! 

Help Sarah Break Up

Finally summer’s here again
It’s time to hit the beach with all my friends
Then I stop cuz it’s not cute
Looking insecure in my bathing suit
You’ve had me all out of sorts
I can’t even wear my favourite shorts
You keep trying to hold me back
Old tampon, I’m over that
Cuz I’m done letting you ruin my days
Listen here, I’ll make it clear that I’ve changed my ways
Cuz, the sun is shining. now that your gone and
Now I can rest assured knowing that your gone for good
And I won’t miss you
No not one bit cuz now I feel safe and sound
With the new protection that I’ve found
oh… oh oh…

“Now I feel safe and sound with the new protection that I’ve found”

What a great song! In addition to the lyrics taking away all my fears surrounding tampons, I’m glad there will be more sun shining as a result of U by Kotex.

If I may say one more thing… while the song presents itself as breaking free from the past, the mere fact that discourses of protection, shame, secrecy and femininity abound, makes me wonder if U by Kotex has actually come as far as they are letting women believe is the case. Is it wrong to suggest that maybe they are covering up what remains with bright colours, catchy tag lines and a cute bracelet?

Advertisements

day 367 in health and wellness

As 2012 comes to an end, I thought to have my last post for the year be about… you guessed it: new beginnings. With every New Year comes a  list of resolutions, and for most of us, shortly after the fireworks, disappointment.

There are the rebels who decide to go against the grain and not make any resolutions. Then there are the over achievers who make list upon list of day-to-day changes they are going to make and then expect everyone around them to follow along. While I wouldn’t classify myself as either of the two, I do find the idea of New Years to be liberating. Although I do not always follow through with most of my resolutions, it is still liberating to make personal goals and dream about a different tomorrow.

Continue reading

a final misconception

As I read through the final pages of Naomi Wolf’s (2001) Misconception I couldn’t help but think that when it comes to kids, women give up more than men, and lose more of themselves than men.

Before calling me a cynic, hear what I have to say…

For one thing, in North America, we seem to be obsessed with the seclusion of new mothers. Fathers are often back to work within a week or two, leaving a woman (who is still healing from giving birth) isolated in her home, to not only take care of a new child, but also the home. With the exception of a weekly visit from a midwife, we most often look down on a mother who needs extra help, seeing her as unfit.

Continue reading

i confess, i thought it was about time!

The past few weeks I have been holding out on expressing my views on the unfortunate FemFresh social media craze. I’ve been hesitant to share my initial reaction, mostly because in some ways it goes against my entire graduate work. The response from FemFresh has been, well none, and really what can they say? Are they selling a product that is unnecessary for women? Yes, unfortunately they are. 

But aren’t most of the products advertised to women, unnecessary? (For those of you not aware of the fallout you can read about it on the Ms.blog and some of the comments by women here.)

Continue reading

new life or misconception: part 1

A few weekends ago I had the wonderful opportunity to finally finish my reading of Naomi Wolf’s (2001) Misconceptions: Truth, lies and the unexpected on the journey to motherhood. Part III of the book was filled with too much to talk about in just one post, which is why I am going to finish my review in two parts.

While the final section of the book is consistent with the honest, well-researched and insightful chapters that precede it, I was a bit disappointed in the feelings that settled on me after turning to the final page. And I must clarify, my disappointment had everything to do with me and not the book. It literally was a “it’s not you, it’s me” sort of situation!

Continue reading

to softcup or not to softcup

I’ve been resisting writing about Instead Softcup® for a while now as I have never tried it, nor do I think I ever will. Some may think that it’s hypocritical to write about a product that you’ve never tried before, but why try something that is not eco-friendly, sends a negative message about menstruation to men and women and in the end costs more money than the product I am currently using?

For those who have never heard about the product, Softcup is a reusable (well reusable for up to 12 hours or a full cycle, if you use Reusable Softcup) cup that is worn near the cervix and collects your menstrual flow.

While I must admit that their advertisements promoting the “benefit” of being able to have mess-free period sex are well done, from a marketing standpoint, from a women’s health standpoint they are very negative in their messaging. It’s not enough that the femcare industry tells women that we need to conceal and protect ourselves from that “o so awful monthly bleeding”, now we can’t even be secure in our sexuality without buying yet another product to ensure our cycle doesn’t mess up our sex life!

Continue reading

the word game

I’ve been learning a hard lesson lately, and while it is fascinating, it is also frustrating.

Any topic about women – whether it be menstruation, pregnancy, or really anything to do with the female gender, usually finds itself in two different scenarios. In the first, we find a group of (mostly women) gathered together swapping real life stories, narratives of truth and experience. In the other we find experts, outsiders and those (men and women) who want to be in the discussion, but have yet to enter its domain.

Of the two, whose insight bears more weight?

Continue reading