Ponnada: The joy of Camp Gyno

BY SRI PONNADA | AUGUST 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Ladies: Do you remember when you first had “that time of month”?

I will never forget mine.

It was the summer before my 12th birthday. For some reason, my mom was away on a trip, and I was at home with my dad and little brother. I went into the bathroom one day and started freaking out because everything was red. I mean, I knew what a period was. But there was no way in hell that I was going to tell my dad about it — or anyone else, as a matter of fact.

It’s just a truth of life: Periods are embarrassing.

I know I’m not the only one who’s tried to hide a pack of pads behind a box of cereal and use the self-checkout line at the supermarket because I didn’t want anyone else to know Mother Nature was in town.

One company is trying to remove this stigma.

A new, two-minute ad-film by the start up period-care service HelloFlo has burst the bubble surrounding talk about periods and vaginas.

The ad, called “Camp Gyno,” has racked up more than 3.5 million YouTube views since it was uploaded on July 28. It stars an endearingly blunt 12-year-old girl who is the first to get her “red badge of courage” while at summer camp and thus becomes a “period pioneer,” dispensing tampons and crucial information to her fellow campers — that is, until they say Hello Flo.

The camper falls from her tampon throne when the other girls start receiving “care packages” every month that include tampons and panty liners and even candy — all perfectly in sync with their cycles.

“It’s like Santa for your vagina,” the camper shrieks. And I have to agree.

A tampon subscription is absolutely genius. The straightforward way in which Hello Flo advertises the service, though, is all the more brilliant.

Now, I’ve heard some people saying that “Camp Gyno” is far too crass and insulting to women. Yeah, the little girl says “vagina” and “vadge” when she delivers frank talk about periods, but so what? Those weren’t expletives the last time I checked. If the ad bothers you that much, in the words of the young camper, “Suck it up, and deal with it.”

The ad is simply making references to menstruation in a way that’s refreshingly unashamed, as well as truthful. It’s something that people can relate to. Most other tampon ads hide the down and dirty facts about menstruation.

Periods aren’t pretty, but they’re not supposed to be scary or hush-hush, either. And that’s exactly what Hello Flo’s “Camp Gyno” ad is about.

This ad opens up discussion about womanhood in a really funny but also undeniably real way. (You have to admit, a “menstruation demonstration” on a Dora the Explorer doll is pretty hilarious.)

Hello Flo has taken a major step toward walking back the Victorian coyness that usually characterizes any discussion of women’s bodies and women’s health.

Thanks to “Camp Gyno,” many little girls (and perhaps even women like myself) will no longer feel ashamed or embarrassed during “that time of the month.” We’ll finally be able to laugh about our experiences and feel comfortable talking about our bodies — as we rightly should.

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