I read a headline this past week that really made me pause.

KOTEX has launched a brand new line of feminine products for… Tweens.

Yup, you read that right. Tweens. 9 to 12 year-old preteens in the midst of the awkward in-between childhood and adolescence stage. Under the parameters of an outdated gender binary system, some call it the ‘too old for toys, too young for boys’ demographic.

Perhaps your reactions were similar to mine when I first read that headline? I cringed
. One of the first comments I read was from a woman on Facebook who was complaining about Kotex making ‘glittery tampons’ for pre-teens. WHAT?! Outrageous! But wait… [pause]… Don’t believe everything you read/hear.

Upon further investigation, I found out that what the woman had said was completely inaccurate. Not only is there ZERO glitter in any of Kotex’s products, but tampons aren’t even a part of the new line (which was definitely a conscious decision on Kotex's part). Alas, the only sparkles involved are the ones on the outside
of the box. Sure, they went a bit overboard with the gender stereotypical colors and glittery graphics, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. In the products world, that’s par for the course among girls grades 4-7. That’s not excusing it, but it is the simple explanation.

The more I thought about it, well… Kotex’s new line kind of made sense.


What we REALLY want to talk about is how people are concentrating so much on the sparkles that they’re totally missing out on the most important aspects of this whole thing. What about the positive moves Kotex is making?

Sure, Kotex is looking to make money on an untouched market (which was inevitably going to happen—if they didn’t do it, someone else would have), but they are making some big strides forward for women. They’ve set up an entire website that is dedicated to helping young girls learn about how puberty affects their bodies as well as providing parents with resources for the crucial conversations they’ll need to be having with their daughters.

We live in a society that teaches women to be ashamed and secretive about their periods, and teaches men to cringe, shudder and freak out at the mere mention of such things. Why is this still tolerated? Do we not realize it’s yet another way women are held under the thumb of a patriarchal society? Instead of regarding our menstrual cycles as the miracle that enables us to create life inside of us, they are shoved aside as disgusting and taboo.

As far as I know, Kotex is the only company to publicly challenge these societal stigmas with their current campaign ‘U by Kotex.’ For once, tampons, pads and the packaging that hold them aren’t restricted to pastels and white. U by Kotex includes hugely vibrant colors that shouts, ‘I am not ashamed of my body OR my period!’ I’m not saying there’s anything wrong if you’d rather go for the traditional products or hide a tampon in your sleeve as you walk past your co-workers and into the bathroom, but it’s hard to argue that Kotex’s effort to go in the opposite direction isn’t admirable. It’s about pride for who and what we are as females.

Even cooler is the fact that Kotex has set up an entire website where women and girls are signing a declaration to commit to changing the way society talks about periods. To this, I say ‘Hell, yes!’

Why are more advocates in our circles not embracing this?

The U by Kotex Declaration reads as follows:

I will:

- Celebrate my body and my period as natural, normal and important
- Respect my vagina and know that ‘vagina’ isn’t a dirty word
- Challenge society to think differently about what it means to be a woman
- Talk openly and without embarrassment about periods and vaginal care with my friends and family
- Take good care of myself and encourage my girlfriends to do the same.

How awesome is that?

How many times have you seen a guy squeal or plug his ears when a girl even alluded to her period, cramps or gyno visit? Our periods are definitely a private matter and I’m not at all saying we should send out proud memos to everyone we know about our personal reproductive systems, but we shouldn’t have to feel like we have to whisper about it either. The bold colors of Kotex’s newest lines are a visual manifestation of breaking free of the social stigma and declaring and demanding equal respect. It’s pretty obvious that Kotex isn’t just trying to make a buck on cute products, but they’re giving something back.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t enjoy the less desirable side effects of being a woman during ‘that time of the month.’ I’ve had my fair share of troubles including a recent emergency 4-day hospitalization due to a ruptured ovarian cyst that caused severe internal bleeding and required a blood transfusion. But you know what, I’m still proud to be a woman. I’m still proud that my body was made to create life in a way that is exclusive to our female reproductive system. I consider it an honor.

We may not like it, but there is no denying research that has proven girls are beginning to menstruate younger and younger. According to Pediatrics, approximately 15% of American girls now begin puberty by the age of 7.

That said, let’s be clear… It certainly isn’t KOTEX’s fault that girls’ bodies are entering into puberty at younger ages than previous generations. There are a lot of places to point our fingers or try and place blame, but the feminine products industry isn’t one of them. If you want to assert the real danger here, then direct your attention to the fact that girls’ bodies are changing before they are mentally prepared for it.

The more I think about it, I’m surprised that a company hasn’t come out with smaller sized pad for younger girls before now.

Sometimes, I feel as though I'm programmed to react a specific way to headlines and the latest schticks aimed at women in advertising, but we can’t abandon reason and individuality. Not everyone will agree with me on all of this, but at least I took the time to carefully construct my opinion.

So, what do YOU think?

©2011 REVOLUTION OF REAL WOMEN, LLC. All rights reserved.



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