Hello Flo’s “Camp Gyno” Is a Menstruation Despot

I've got some issues with the viral vid.

Someone sent me the above video yesterday and said, “You might want to write about this.”  I had no context for what Hello Flo or “The Camp Gyno” was. At first, I thought it was an ad. Then I thought it had to be a PSA for middle schoolers.

I showed it to a few of my interns who laughed and gasped a couple times while watching, but then said, “What did I just see?”

We had to go to the Hello Flo site that’s promoted at the end of the video to see that the packages that the campers start to receive at the end of the video are the real pitch. I had thought they were coming from the girls’ parents, but no, the packages are coming from a mail order tampon/pad provider!

For the low, low cost of somewhere between $14 and $18 — depending on your flow, of course — the good people at HelloFlo will send your child a white, nondescript box filled with “just the right amount” of feminine products, and candy. The service is touted as being more comprehensive than the various period apps, which, until this moment, I didn’t know existed.

I’m wondering what “just the right amount is.”

I’m wondering what kind of tampons they are — I mean, there really is a difference between the Pearl and the O.B.

I’m wondering about the candy — I’d be up for M&M’s, I’d settle for Twizzlers; I don’t want anything to do with anything nougat-y.

Mostly, I’m wondering when we started to need so much help with our menstrual cycles. All of it makes me want to throw my hand up and say, “I got this.”

My problems with the video:

  • The girl looks like she’s nine. She’s at least young enough to have a Dora the Explorer doll with her, and how she uses it in the video is a bit visually disturbing.
  • She educates, bosses around and provides tampons to girls who look to be at least three years older than she is. It just doesn’t seem plausible — do you know any girls?
  • Other media seems to think she’s adorable, but I find her a little abrasive. I can see why her parents send her away for the entire summer — or several menstrual cycles.

I think it’s great to see a young woman take ownership of her menses, really I do. I think it’s empowering to have her toss off words like vag, and to call her period itself “the red badge of courage.” It is. But it’s also a little creepy for her to call herself Joan of Arc, where she’s Joan and the arc is the other girls’ vaginas.

The playfulness here is nothing new. Kotex’s U tampons have had slick packaging and a hysterical marketing campaign in which a girl in her early 20s wryly talks about her period making her want to run barefoot in a field of white flowers, roll around in a white bed and wear white pants, effectively mocking ads and images for feminine products for the past 50 years.

My co-op Hannah related to the video. She went to camp for two months every summer, and the 93-year old director had “period parties” when someone got their period for the first time. She served grape juice and cookies to girls in the same bunkhouse, told the story of her own first menstrual cycle and invited the girls to share.

Sounds quite a bit nicer than the camp depicted in the video, run by a tiny little menstruation despot.