It's all girl-talk all the time here these days!
Yesterday, I was talking to the girl whose lab bench is next to mine about buying bras.* First, about buying sports bras (completely imperative to do calisthenics in the fitting room), and then we moved on to other bras and properly fitting bras and lingerie stores and salespeople who know what they're doing when you go in to buy a bra and so on and so forth (one of our male labmates tried to join in but quickly realized he was out of his depth). And I said, "There should be a class about this. You know, in middle school. There can be the 'What's happening to my body' class and a--" "--how to take care of your boobies class!" my benchmate said. And the more we talked about it, the more important it sounded; we would have a professional bra-fitter come in and measure the girls and talk about how to be properly measured and what a proper fitting bra looks and feels like and how, no matter how pretty the bra is, if it makes you look mishapen under your clothes then you should not--must not--wear it (don't women know it makes them look like they have four breasts? sheesh!) and we can include information about breast exams.
And then I thought, why stop at breasts? I had just read Imbrium's post about the Moon Cup and I thought, why do we have to wait until we are in our 20's or 30's or whatever to learn about these things? Where was the advice about curbing your bleeding when I needed it? Yes, my mother said, "Here, use these," but there was no other discussion, no, "Well, there are these different kinds of things and each of them have their advantages and here are some women who have actually used them so you can talk to them about it."
Years ago, there used to be "Finishing school" where you would learn to be a proper young lady, and receive instruction in the "womanly arts" (if you were rich enough to afford such things). And they would teach you about posture and needlepoint and all of that stuff. And, maybe those things mattered back then, but I think there should be a different kind of finishing school for the things that matter to women now. That can tell you what you really need to know to live as a happy, healthy, proud woman. Where there are women who come in and tell you about those things that maybe your mom didn't feel comfortable talking about (and you didn't feel comfortable hearing from her) or she just didn't know because it wasn't part of her experience. Like cramps, for instance. My mother never had cramps. It wasn't until college (COLLEGE! I started my period when I was 12!) that I found out that a hot water bottle on my womb was a damn fine thing one week out of every month. Now, of course, there are these great ThermaCare things so you can walk around all day with a heating pad on your abdomen. And ibuprophen. Why didn't anyone say I could take 800mg of ibuprophen when I had cramps? Where was the woman to tell me that yes, while some women get toxic shock syndrome, the VAST MAJORITY of women have no problems (I swear to you, I had heard so many warnings about tampons, I didn't even want to use them so I could go swimming while I had my period--I was scared to even look at them!) and so, therefore, I might just want to try them and by the way, they're all a little different so just because you don't like the applicator on one doesn't mean you won't like the applicator on the other or you can just use o.b. which doesn't have an applicator at all. Or how to have sex while having your period without creating a mess (which I just recently figured out!)?
And, when we learned about birth control, why weren't there women who had actually USED these various kinds of birth control? Where were the women to say, yes I have been on the pill and a) it was great, b) I could never remember to take the damn thing so it wasn't terribly effective for me, or c) I hated it? Or women to say to you that yes, the birth control patch is a fine thing but it leaves a gluey residue when you take it off and looks a little ratty by the end of the week, which is perfectly fine, but if that kind of thing bothers you then maybe you shouldn't use it? Or women to say, yes, I use a diaphragm and it was a little complicated in the beginning and once it accidently shot out across the room, but I practiced with it and it works quite well oh and by the way, it can be nice for when you have your period, too?
AND, where were the women who had been through a pregnancy scare to let us know what it really felt like to go to the pharmacy and buy a test and pee on a stick and wait for 5 WHOLE MINUTES all the while wondering what you would do if it came out positive? Or what it was like to keep forgetting to take your pill so that every Monday morning you end up going to the clinic to get a morning after pill and have the nurse practitioner look at you and say, "You know, you can't keep doing this"? Or, had unprotected sex with someone you didn't know well and it seeemed like a good idea at the time, but then later you spent months being SCARED TO DEATH that you had AIDS or some other STD, and then finally got tested and you couldn't work, you couldn't sleep, you could barely even eat until you knew the results?
Someone should tell you that if the doctor is going to use a metal speculum, have them run it under warm water first. Because the cold speculum is unpleasant. And, if you have a tilted uterus, you are NOT some kind of freak just because the gynecologist cannot find your cervix. The problem is the gynecologist, not you! And yeast infections? How do you know if you have one? What do you do if you get one? And what the hell is the difference between the Monistat 1 Dose and the Monistat 1 Dose Day or Night? Why is there $3 difference in the price? Why?
And, for the love of God, STOP IT WITH THE BLUE, SPARKLY EYESHADOW ALREADY!
There should be a CLASS! There should be a BOOK! Hell, there should be an ENCYCLOPEDIA! Sure, there are women's magazines, but those are full of skinny, impossibly beautiful people. They don't give you the impression that they are written by real women. Besides, no magazine, or book even, can possibly substitute for real, live, normal looking women sitting there telling you what it is you need to know. Why should we have to wait for word of mouth? Why should we have to wait until some friend happens to mention some vital tidbit of information?
That's all I'm sayin'.
Disclaimer: Lest you think my life has been one gigantic nightmare of feminine problems, I've used examples from women I know in addition to my own experiences.
*In June, when I'm whining that I'm not done with grad school yet, feel free to remind me that I spent a significant amount of time in lab talking about anything and everything. And blogging.