Changing ourselves, changing others

A couple of years ago my sister told me that she had started using a cup to catch her menstrual flow, which at the time seemed like the most crunchy granola thing I’d ever heard. I had never given much thought to what might be wrong with tampons or pads, and I definitely didn’t know there was an alternative. Two years later, I’m a huge proponent of The Diva Cup and all things Lunapads. Why the change? I guess you could say I had a green awakening about a year ago, and started swearing off plastic and paper bags, disposable cups and plastic flatwear. It was super-easy to replace disposable products with reusable ones, really just a matter of forming new habits. Then one day I was browsing the aisles of my local health food store and came across The Diva Cup. Suddenly the idea of a reusable menstrual cup didn’t seem so far out there—it actually made a lot of sense! So, I made my purchase and haven’t looked back since.
Well, that’s not totally true. Using The Diva Cup did take some getting used to after a lifetime of tampon usage. Difference #1: You actually have to touch yourself. Scandalous, isn’t it?! I’ve always considered myself a feminist and pretty comfortable with my body. But using the cup has made me painfully aware of how disconnected I was from the female parts of my body! Somewhere along the way, despite my intellectual beliefs, I had come to think of my flow as dirty and something that needed to be sanitized. I guess all those ads with girls running on the beach in white clothes had landed in some corner of my unconscious, after all. Difference #2: Using the cup, you get to see your flow. Amidst our hide it-clean it-bleach it culture of female “hygiene”, this is a radical moment. Not only is it simply cool to see the amount of flow, but there’s also something totally liberating about it being visible. It’s not something to be hidden away like a dirty little secret. Anyone who’s been in psychoanalysis knows that it’s what we keep hidden that is what really traps us, so taken on a cultural level, as long as our periods are something to be hidden and cleaned up, as a culture we’re ashamed about the essence of our womanhood. So, without question, using The Diva Cup has made me feel much more connected to my femaleness, and has brought me face to face with the sexist presumptions lurking in my unconscious.

Since seeing the Lunapads light, like a new convert, I’ve been keen to evangelize! While some friends have been eager to try The Diva Cup and other Lunapads products, much to my amazement others have met my enthusiasm with fear, embarrassment and even ridicule. Excited to show a group of girlfriends all the cool colors that Lunapads come in, I brought a few samples to a bar and busted them out over a round of beers. Judging by the reaction, I might as well have put a jar of poop on the table. I guess it goes to show how much my thinking on this issue has changed—it seemed like no big deal to show them some (unused) reusable pads in a public place. But they weren’t amused. When it comes down to it, they really see their periods as dirty, and can’t imagine reusing anything associated with it. The challenge is: How do we convince others that their periods aren’t gross? I’d be interested to hear how other Lunapads users have successfully communicated this idea to friends. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, I think: Using the Lunapads products is what has caused the paradigm shift in my thinking on this issue, after all! So I suppose it’s a matter of reaching people who might be skeptical but are curious and willing to take a chance to try reusable menstrual products. That’s the hard part, because once my friends try them, I have no doubts that they too will be converts. Can you tell I’m advocating for worldwide Lunapads domination?! Thanks so much to Madeleine, Suzanne, and everyone at Lunapads for creating a product that not only does the vital work of cutting down on our usage of disposables, but has also helped me see my womanhood in a whole new light. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Sara’s blog is It’s So Easy Being Green – read her post about natural menstrual products to learn how you can win free Lunapads (until September 15 only)!

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  • Anonymous

    Well, most people I know don’t throw their underwear away if they have a leak so I usually try and have them make that connection when it comes to luna pads. It is rather silly how some women would have no problem rinsing out and reusing a pair of underwear, but the thought of reusing a pad grosses them out.

  • Daniela

    Well… you’re lucky, might say…

    Here in Brazil nearly anyone knows about cloth pads… Only one person make some to sell and sehe lives in another state. Then it’s much more difficult. There isn’t to much green lifestyle around here too (people don’t understand why I don’t take plastic bags at supermarket). Only my family and my boyfriend knows about my cloth pads (i did them myself), and though my mom finds it very good habit towards the nature, she doesn’t try. My sisters don’t want even hear about this, I think the only one that acept this really well is my boyfriend, who would use cloth pads if was woman and wants to use cloth diappers on our future baby…

    I’ve tried already to convert some women that were curiuous about that in a pagan adn feminist “orkut” community, but they said that is to difficult to keep washing pads, and that they wouldn’t work as well as disposables… at the end no one was converted.

    I only hope that this wave of eco/green ideas help me to show this for more women without been looked like if I was completely nuts.

    p.s. sorry for my poor english

  • Danielle

    I’m aware that this is a bit behind the times, so to speak, but I’ll share the way I brought it up with people. Like nearly everyone else, *I* thought it was the grossest thing in the world, when I saw the first cloth pad.
    Then a really wonderful friend had the guts (which you quickly discover everyone has, after trying them) to discuss her lunapads on her livejournal. I had a lot of respect for this woman, and she talked about her reaction first, and then how she feels about her body post-lunapads. Long story short, I converted (it *is* like religious fanaticism, thank you!) and then… took them with me to the bar. My friend was bartending, and I hauled one out, explained everything to her, and she went for it. We then tag teamed another friend… and another… and I’ve discovered that when more than one woman comes at a group with the same ‘This Is Amazing’ mentality, that wonderful old ‘do as they do’ conditioning kicks in and people start thinking they can’t turn their noses up. So they listen. And they think. And that’s how the only two girls in computer science slowly took over the entire university- with our own little Lunapads revolution.
    So… gang up on them? Ohhh, yes.