Talking ‘Bout My Menstruation

Are you enthusiastic about reusable menstrual products but don’t know how to channel that passion other than, well, using them? Do you have people in your life who you bet would benefit from making the switch, but you aren’t sure how to broach the subject? I feel ya! It can be nerve-wracking to go from silent fan to cheerleader. Fortunately, there are ways to go about it that won’t make you feel like an insistent salesperson or that self-righteous acquaintance we all have (you know, the one who acts like their way is always best). I enlisted the help of our GladRags Ambassadors (an awesome group of reusables enthusiasts who are skilled at spreading the word!) to put together some tips and advice.

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All roads lead to reusables
Okay, maybe not all, but more than you’d think! Not only conversations about periods lend themselves to the topic, but mentions of cramps, PMS, eco-consciousness, saving money, postpartum care, travel, health…the list goes on! Also seemingly infinite are the types of people you might find yourself having these conversations with. Our ambassadors have talked to midwives, doulas, nurses, doctors, fellow homeschoolers, fellow Target shoppers, coworkers, drugstore cashiers, roommates, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, just to name a few! I love this story from Elizabeth that illustrates how you might find yourself talking about reusables in a way that you didn’t expect: “I just had a great conversation with my Lyft driver about reusables! He has two teenage daughters and one in particular is interested in environmental science so as we talked about his family and menstruation in general, I recommended that he tell his daughters to check out GladRags and he said he thinks they will be really interested if they haven’t heard of it already! How cool is that dad?”

This is how we do it
So, what are some things to keep in mind when a potential “hey, have you heard of reusables” situation arises? Our ambassadors have some wise words for you:

Chelsea: “Don’t be shy about it. There is already such a stigma around menstruation it’s up to us to break it. By talking about our options it makes people realize it’s not something to hide. So many people have no idea there are options like this available. It’s literally life changing and you could be helping someone, some will find it gross and that’s ok. To each their own but don’t let that discourage you.”

Kate: “Seize any opportunity! Now whenever I stumble into a conversation about periods (someone asks for a tampon, or complains about cramps) I talk about reusables. And also remember what it was like before you started using them! I’m more sympathetic to people’s hesitancy when I remember what I thought about reusables before I switched.”

Elizabeth: “The more comfortable, casual, and confident you are in discussing menstruation and menstrual products, the more comfortable the person you’re speaking with will be. They tend to take their cues from you, so having a neutral to excited demeanor is really helpful. Also, many people haven’t been exposed to reusables as an alternative to the very prevalent disposable materials out there. They hold on to many of the myths about smells, and how “gross” or “dirty” menstruation is that are perpetuated by the menstrual hygiene industry. It always works best to stay calm even when they say something like “that’s nasty” and more gently explain why it’s actually healthier for your body and the earth to use reusables! Usually people are surprised and start to shift their attitude.”

Show & tell
People often have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of reusables for different reasons. One thing that can be helpful is letting them see what a cloth pad or menstrual cup actually looks like! You might not always have a pad hanging out in your bag (or even if you do, you might not be comfortable showing it off), but if the situation allows, showing them some examples on a phone or computer can be very beneficial. Being able to see or touch something can make it more relatable and give people a better sense of what it would be like to own or use it. Sometimes this even happens the other way around – someone sees a reusable menstrual product without knowing what it is, which becomes a jumping-off point for a conversation! Deborah relayed the experience of stacking her freshly washed pads at the laundromat and having someone who worked there come over and ask what they were. “I told her and she thought that they are a great idea but, told me that she no longer gets a period. I proceeded to talk about how they can also be used for every day freshness and light bladder leakage. She seemed interested and said she would talk to her teenage daughters about them.”

How do you define ‘success’?
A “good” or “productive” conversation about reusables means whatever you want it to mean! Personally, I try not to be hard on myself; I consider any conversation in which I’ve given people the basic facts to be a good one. The goal is to provide people with information and let them know their options. Not everyone will whip out their wallet and purchase their first menstrual cup on the spot, but that also doesn’t mean they won’t mull over what you told them a week, month, or year later. Chelsea told us that when she first brought up reusables to her best friend 6 years ago, her friend found the concept weird and not something she was interested in. Well, guess who gave Chelsea a call last month to ask for help making the switch?! Getting people to try or switch to reusables is a great feeling, but it’s also satisfying just to know that you’ve planted a seed. Remember, knowledge is power!

We hope that you feel more comfortable (and excited!) about the idea of having conversations about reusables. It helps to keep in mind that there are really no rules; not only for how to go about it, which is up to you, but also when it comes to the people you encounter. Nowhere is it written that [type of person] will always be grossed out by reusables, or that [type of person] would never try them. Being pleasantly surprised is half the fun! So what are you waiting for? Go forth and spread the word!