It took me 10 years to say "vagina" comfortably. That's a problem.
Valentine’s Day this year marked the 10 year meet-cute-aversary for my partner and I. Isn’t that embarrassing?! (I mean not, our-eyes-met-while-we-both-reached-for-the-last-box-of-chocolates-cue-the-swelling-music-that’s-when-we-knew-we’d-spend-the-rest-of-our-lives-together embarrassing. Just like, woof, what a weird day to A) work your first shift at a notoriously busy NYC restaurant and B) start a strong flirt sesh with the cute bartender.)
Of course, I would sooner have died than admit I was flirting. In fact, we secret-dated for several months before a friend took me aside to say “I don’t know what bizarre self-preservation tactic you’re playing at, but if you want to just admit you two are together…that would be okay.” Then there’s the photo of us where he sweetly hugs me and tenderly brushes hair from my face while I…look like a cat who’s just had a bucket of water dumped on its head.
Because back then, I wasn’t super great at understanding (let alone talking about!) my feelings, body, sex life, etc. We moved in together and started to share a life, but I still hid my tampons. We opened a joint savings account, but I was still vague and withholding when I got a series of UTIs. It feels insane now, but in those years I mostly referred to vaginas as “hoo-hahs.”
See? I wasn’t exactly getting an A+ in the “intimate communication skills” department.
But at some point, I had some intuitive recognition that this kind of behavior wasn't particularly serving me. (Or my hoo ha.) So I started reading more about my body, my cycle, and my hormones. I slowly grew more comfortable in my brain and in my body. I began to replace euphemisms with terms a medical professional would actually recognize. I learned to open up to my friends and came to love the buzz that builds during intimate female conversations around shared, previously unspoken, experiences. I even got better at speaking frankly with my partner, who (of course) just smiled and wondered what had taken me so long.
In short, I learned a new language, then built up the muscle of using it. It felt much, much better, and I watched as nearly every relationship in my life blossomed as a result.
Eventually, incredibly, I came so far that I actually helped start a company that's all about this new language and building up the muscle of using it! A company founded, in part, on the belief that this comfort gap has led to a knowledge gap that has led to some major product gaps. A company that suspects nearly NONE of us knows enough about our bodies or cycles or hormones. A company that puts information about the FULL menstrual cycle right on our box because normalizing it is important in a culture of terrible sex ed classes and a tendency to conflate "private" and "shameful."
And so now all day, I get to help create not just better products for us menstruators to use (without hiding), but opportunities for better information to be shared, plus better language to talk about it all that’s grounded in science AND in the truth that, although “knowledge is power,” it’s hard to get smart in a subject you've been taught to feel squeamish about.
So, as we (MOONS) grow, my hope is that we (all) grow. Into humans who finally have the tools to ask and learn and seek and share. Because it shouldn't take anyone ten years to feel comfortable talking about their own body.
Cheers, I mean woo-hoo, I mean hoo-hah, I mean HUZZAH.
- Kaity, co-founder & CCO of MOONS