The average girl starts her menses between the ages of 12 and 14 and most young girls in Americadon’t receive sexual or reproductive health education till much later, if at all. And whatever age they do receive it, some consider it to be too late. For example, many young girls who use tampons do not fully understand what Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is or underestimate the possibility of getting it themselves. To make informed decisions, girls must be educated. And if they are not educated in school, the responsibility of the girls’ parents becomes tantamount.
Young girls often talk to their friends about personal issues and can feel embarrassed broaching issues related to their bodies with their parents. Our self-identity and the way we conceptualize our bodies is greatly defined by our social interactions at school.
Teens mature biologically at this age and consequently, can develop insecurities. The exclusion of parents from this social sphere is what makes it harder for the family to be intimately aware of their daughter’s experiences or feelings.
The one advantage that teens have today is the amount of information available on the internet. There are several websites dedicated to educating young girls, encouraging conversation and changing behaviors, and raising awareness on issues that relate to their health and transitioning into womanhood.
Be Prepared is a website designed for young girls and mothers who want to prepare their daughters for getting their period and dealing with those stresses that accompany first periods or issues such as going swimming when Aunt Flo is in town.
The Be Prepared website has a blog which is great for moms and dads, a section on ‘First Period Stories’, information on products including a page on why they support organic products (such as Maxim’s pads and tampons), links to buying those products, and an information section on health issues. They even have period kits!
You Are Loved was founded by Lisa Elifritz , a mom (previously featured in our fierce woman series) who lost her 20 year old daughter, Amy Elifritz, to TSS and wanted to do her part to ensure that no mother endure a similar tragedy. The greatest element of this website is that it has stories and personal experiences contributed by young girls and mothers who have dealt with TSS. In a way, it acts as a virtual support community and provides solace.
Maxim Hygiene Products is a family owned and women led company, which is why we prioritize the health of women and young girls. We honor the parent-child bond as well and want to encourage parents who want to take a more active role in their children’s decision making processes.
We are committed to not only offering safer and healthier personal care products, but providing a source of information for conversations around menstruation and a spectrum of body, earth and health matters. We’ve put time in to developing our own tools and resources around our homegrown values for staying informed and educated others; Personable YouTube videos featuring our young female Vice President talking openly and effectively about the difference and effect of organic versus natural tampons and pads; and an interactive online tool geared towards a younger audience looking for a relatable and fun way to learn more about their period and tips on how to deal with it.
We also collaborate with organizations like You Are Loved and Bepreparedperiod.com to encourage and expand discussions surrounding the issues related to periods and TSS. We do this by participating in a tweetchat called #periodtalk. For more information on how to participate, see here.
Talking about health issues and helping young girls formulate a thought process, which includes critical thinking about risks and rewards, enhances the development of young women. So please, talk to your daughter. If she feels shy, point her in the direction of the sources referenced in this post and encourage her to talk to her friends!