Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Thanks to Hello Flo

In case you didn't notice, this little tampon ad called "Camp Gyno" has been taking the world of viral videos by storm:

And it's be receiving a lot (undue) praise, in my opinion.  I find the ad (and the company it's advertising) disconcerting for several reasons.  Let's break 'em down bullet-point fashion, shall we?
  • Camp Gyno:  It's a funny name, and you know I like the funny.  And if there was some summer camp called "Camp Gyno," I think it'd be hilarious.  But in the context of this video, the tween girl sets herself up as "the camp gyno," as in, "the camp gynecologist."  I find that wrong for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is a licensed gynecologist's job to put his/her hand up my vagina, and I'm not comfortable with the idea of tweens doing that to each other.  "Camp counselor"?  Great.  "The Period Girl"? Fantastic.  "Vagina Drill Sergeant"?  Sure!  (Maybe.)  "Camp Gyno"?? No thank you.
  • Vag:  That same little tween girl says "vag."  That made me incredibly uncomfortable.  Her saying "vagina"?  No problem.  By all means, please call your parts by their names (I do).  But slang like "vag" coming out of a child's mouth struck me as unnecessarily vulgar.  They may as well had her say "snatch" or "cunt."  Also, from a comedic point of view, having her say "vag" early on takes away from the shock and funny when she says "the whole camp started getting friggin' care packages in the mail!"
  • Mixed Messages:  this is the important one.  It might take actual paragraphs rather than a rambling bullet-point.  So far, all the reactions I've seen to the ad have been along the lines of "OMG, isn't this so funny?"  and "Yay, a commercial that actually talks about our periods in plain language!"
    • ONE:  this is only online and not a breakthrough commercial on network television, and
    • TWO:  it's actually sending us right back to where we were:  full of shame and secrecy about our periods.
On the Hello Flo website, the author says:  "One day, after yet another lunch time run to the drugstore for an emergency box of tampons I decided there had to be a better way to manage my period. I didn't want to trek through my office with a practically see-through plastic bag with tampons." 

So the woman who is supposedly taking this revolutionary approach is just as embarrassed about her monthly flow as the rest of the industry has made us out to be.  I don't know what drug store she goes to, but none of the bags I've had from Walgreen's or the grocery store are all that "see-through."  Someone would really have to be squinting and looking hard to see my Playtex boxes through there.

Also, WHO CARES???  I'm adult; I have normal adult biological processes.  I gave up years ago trying to "discreetly" carry my purse or backpack into a restroom stall.  I take what I need out of my bag and put it in a pocket or my hand and go to the restroom like a normal human being, not like a crazed CIA monkey furtively trying to carry the last bit of fruit back to my nest before anyone can see me.

Hello Flo promises to deliver what you need for your monthly period "with care and appreciation for the sensitivity of this purchase," but I think it's possible to be "too sensitive."  Their FAQ even asks "Is the box discreet?" to which they answer, "Absolutely. Feel free to get it sent to your office," again reinforcing the stigma that periods are something secretive and possibly shameful, despite all the brave talk in their online commercial.

Last but not least (and I've run out of bullet-points), time management:  Hello Flo is basically offering to track your period for you because apparently we're too stupid to do it ourselves.
"There are plenty of reminder apps and a bunch of ways to have boxes of "fem care" products shipped each month. But neither really solves all the problems involved. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if I had a reminder service that also delivered the right products at the right time? Why hadn't anyone created a customized solution like this for women." ("About,"
Rather, we're not too stupid.  We apparently can't figure out how to track our periods AND buy products at the same timeOr we're just lazy.  I find the insinuation a bit offensive and laughable at the same time.  It's not that hard to track your own period; you just have to be able to count up to thirty.  If I can do that, you certainly can (as everyone knows, Leonard doesn't do the maths).  I don't even use a fancy iPhone app.  I have a calendar and a pen.  Ta-da!  And those of you who take birth control pills?  IT'S ALREADY IN THE PACKAGE.

And one more thing!  This is the last one, really.  I promise.  Hello Flo offers to ship (in their "discreet" box) tampons, panty liners, and candy -- reinforcing yet another stereotype: that women need chocolate (or sweets) during "that time of the month."  I already discussed that I rarely eat chocolate, but this seems like just another way Hello Flo is trying to categorize us all into their neat (and "discreet") boxes.  Women are all different, Hello Flo, and you're just perpetuating over a century's worth of stereotypes, despite your fancy new packaging.

To sum up:  Hello Flo seems revolutionary, but really isn't, and Leonard doesn't like small children using the word "vag."

1 comment:

  1. I watched the video spot the other day and had some of these same thoughts. Thanks for the well-written post.