I had the most interesting conversation with HelloFlo founder Naama Bloom and Dr. Cara Netterson who works with American Girl on their puberty books.
I encountered HelloFlo’s video, The Camp Gyno, last year when it was released and immediately fell in love with its premise of making sure our daughters are prepared for their periods. Did you see it? It was wonderful and went viral really fast. If not, watch it now.
HelloFlo founder Naama Bloom spent the bulk of her career at American Express in marketing. After moving on as an entrepreneur, one day she had a “lightbulb” idea to send tampons through the mail to young girls via subscription. As she started to talk to people, she began to realize what parents are dealing with and that the important conversations were often happening too late. She launched her company using her Camp Gyno video which got A LOT of media coverage, a subscription (supply kits) service that appeals to moms with daughters, and a starter tool kit to help guide a parent through the initial conversation. The goal is to help kids celebrate becoming a grown up, not fear it.
She recently joined forces with Dr. Cara Netterson, author of The Care and Keeping of You, an American Girl book about puberty that I actually have read to my own tween several times. She’s now a medical advisor to HelloFlo. As a medical expert on puberty, she recognizes that both boys and girls are entering puberty 1-2 years earlier than when we were kids (prompting earlier body odor, moodiness, breast development). The average age girls go through puberty is 8-9 years-old, and it’s younger for the African American community. The average age for girls getting their period is still 12-1/2 (thankfully that hasn’t changed and factors heavily into when their moms starting menstruating).
Are you talking to your kids about puberty? You need to give info to kids without scaring them. Dr. Netterson gave us three helpful tips for girls going through puberty:
1. No eye to eye contact – if your child asks you a sensitive question, have the chat in a private environment where they can’t see their eyes. The majority of kids don’t want to look their parents in the eye during these conversations. I, on the other hand, look my daughter in the eye during these discussions, so it clearly depends on you and your child. It might change when she’s older and the conversations get harder for me to have.
2. The body conversation should be one that is had many, many times – not just once. If you’re worried about THE TALK, know it’s not just one.
3. While it’s really helpful for some kids to talk about their own experiences with puberty, remember that it’s not your experience! It’s your child’s. Make this their story, about them.
Bloom also made us aware of ZanaAfrica, a Kenyan company that makes pads and use profits to fund charitable profits, such as health education and policy advocacy. Girls and women don’t have access to sanitary products in Africa. As a result, girls miss a lot of school, putting them behind. Pads are also expensive in developing nations because they’re not made locally. ZanaAfrica is working to build a manufacturing plant locally in Kenya to develop and distribute sanitary products to girls and women. Every time someone makes a HelloFlo purchase, proceeds goes to provide a kit to girls in Kenya that has 3 pairs of underwear, pads to get through a school year and information about periods.
I’m in awe of the inspiring founders of these initiatives and products meant to improve the quality of young girls’ lives here and all over the world, including my own daughter who is 11 years old and on the cusp of discovering major body changes.
Disclosure: The Mission List invited me to attend this call but I wasn’t given any editorial guidelines. All opinions are my own.