While visiting the Always plant in Belleville I got to hear a bit about some of the cool charity initiatives Always takes part in, such as donating pads to girls in developing countries. I learnt how in these nations girls will often stay home from school when they are having their period, which means they are consistently missing several days of school each month. By donating pads Always helps keep girls in school (700,000 girls reached thus far!)
Always also works to empower parents and teachers to give them the info and resources they need to talk to girls about puberty. P&G reaches out to Grades 5 through 8 in Canadian schools; supplying teaching materials, samples and students booklets to help support teachers. The program which is fully funded by P&G has been in place for 20 years. They work closely with OPHEA and PHE to design materials which will fit the current curriculum. And they also run a website called BeingGirl.com, which is designed to support girls as they move through puberty.
I was genuinely surprised by the stats in this infograph. I remember my own mother telling me how the entirety of her sex ed education was her mother telling her “Don’t play with matches and you won’t get burned.” As a young lady attending a Catholic all girls school in the late sixties and early seventies, she actually worried that just thinking about a boy could get her pregnant. My mom described the crazy garter belt to hold your pad in place system she had to use when she first hit puberty, and how her mom handed it to her one day “just in case” and she was left to figure out how to wear it and why. I had the idea that this lack of knowledge about sex ed and puberty in general was pretty common for her day and age.
Maybe because she felt it was lacking from her own upbringing, my mom was pretty upfront about this stuff when I was growing up. So when we were sitting in a meeting room at the Always plant and they showed us this infographic I was shocked by some of the modern day statistics. “Women take more steps today to hide their period then they did thirty years ago.” 14% of girls still say that the first person to talk to them about puberty was “nobody”? 26% of young women don’t tell their parents when they get their period for the first time?? 58% of women still say they would change something about their puberty experience. 55% of women say they make a change to their daily lives when on their period. And more women have missed doing an activity due to having their period now then thirty years ago.
Wow. Seriously, I thought this was a problem of my mom’s generation. I was really surprised to see that these stats are suggesting shame and lack of information are just as much, if not maybe even more, of a problem now then they were when my mom was a teen.
We are pretty open in our household. I started talking about the “where do babies come from” stuff with my daughter when she was two and a half. My kids walk in on me in the bathroom all the time. I’ve had to explain to my potty-training resistant three year old that mommy is not wearing a diaper, and no I can’t just go pee without moving to the bathroom. My girls are only ages six and three but we’ve already begun “the talk”, it’s just part of our daily discourse. My girls know that they will one day grow breasts and have periods, just like they know that one day their baby teeth will fall out and be replaced with adult ones. Am I alone here? How do you other moms to girls handle this stuff? Are these stats off base? Or is there still a general hush and stigma to being on your period that I just somehow wasn’t aware of?
The reps for Always explained how they want to help facilitate mom/daughter conversations on having your first period. They already work to support girls directly via BeingGirl.com, and they have school programs in place to help educators. Now they are looking at the missing piece, how to help and support moms. I’m curious, what sort of support do you think would help YOU in having “the talk” with your kids?
Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities, such as my recent trip to visit the Always plant in Belleville, Ontario.