Breastfeeding, midwifery, homebirths, cloth pads… Over the last five years, I’ve experienced so many revelations in the way that I think about women’s issues. This surprises me because I come from a long line of strong, intelligent, hilarious women and I gravitate towards female friends who share those traits too. So it would never have occurred to me that I was anything other than clued in. However, apparently it was not so.
I’m sure that living in wonderful, eclectic, green-thinking East Van has had a bit to do with my lifestyle changes, but the real game-changer was motherhood. Most of these revelations have been brought on by the desire to give my kids a healthy start. All of them have made me feel better connected to my own body and to the women who have gone before me.
A year after having my second kid, my cycle kicked back in, so I trotted off to buy the same brand of tampons that I had used back in the day. Looking at these things with fresh eyes — after being introduced to the world of cloth diapering — I was shocked by the amount of plastic and packaging involved. The brand in question hadn’t helped matters by adding some bright blue plastic to the mix. Bearing in mind that I had sidestepped all the products that bragged even more pizazz, like floral scents and patterns, etc. I really wasn’t feeling too sure about whether all this was really necessary.
It was, by peculiar coincidence, at the time that I needed them most that I learned about Goddess Moons. Hearing about the benefits of cloth wasn’t the eye-opener; it was realizing that I hadn’t questioned the use of disposable products sooner. These sanitized, scientist-approved, seemingly innocent little white tampon mice and their equally pure-looking pad cousins never raised my suspicions, not even once! Why had I never questioned the chemicals used to obtain that complete whiteness? Or the glues involved in disposable pads? And why had it never crossed my mind that inserting something to absorb your flow might not be the most natural option? If your body wants to push something out, doesn’t it seem healthier to allow that to happen, if possible?
Disposable products have evolved and become successful because of the shame that women are taught to feel about their bodies. We must hide any signs of menstruating (at all cost to our own health and to the health of the planet), as if it’s a dirty secret. The truth is, in fact, that girls should be taught to celebrate their periods, because they are evidence of the amazing, powerful things that the female body is capable of. Parents want their babies to grow up and continue the good work they’ve started, by making their health a priority, but this seems to trail off for many of us, when we come of age and are accountable for ourselves.
Fortunately, I’m happy to confirm that cloth pads have a strong following within the new generation of healthy, eco-minded girls. Hopefully this means that we’ll have better informed women in our midst and fewer women having to wait till their late thirties to have their eyes opened.