Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Go With The Flow

What's more hip right now than vampires? Tampons, obviously. Let's talk about vaginas, shall we?

I'll admit it-- I'm a bit of a brand whore, and I'm as loyal as the Labrador Retriever you grew up with when I find a product I like. I've worn the same American Eagle jeans since I was in middle school, because they're the cuts that fit me best. I've washed my hair with Garnier Fructis since I was a senior in high school. I only ride in Dansko paddock boots, and Ariat tall boots. I buy Barilla pasta (if it's good enough for the supermarkets in Italy, it's good enough for me). I pitched an ungodly fit when my local pharmacy changed my straight-from-the-brand Ortho Tri-Cyclin Lo to the generic birth control alternative, and had it promptly changed back. (Part of that may have been because the generic pills looked like they had been pressed by some enterprising young meth-head in his back-country trailer park, and also the fact that I am NOT willing to risk my fertility on the cheap shit, because babies are HELLA expensive.) And I have always, ALWAYS used Playtex Gentle Glide tampons (fresh scent,) for as long as...well, for as long as I've been cursing being born female and fertile.

However, this is not to say that I can't occasionally be lured away from a specific product by the seductive siren song of another. While I may be very, very loyal and monogamous in my relationships with people, my relationships with products have a tendency to sometimes end up polygamous. Take, for instance, the last time I found myself journeying down the "feminine care" aisle of my local Rite-Aid on a last-minute "Dear god, like the three bears, my bathroom cupboards are bare and Goldilocks (Little Red Riding Hood would possibly be more apt?) has come to town!" mission. There they were, right in front of me-- the pink box with the familiar script, the reassuringly large "S", the vague floral scent wafting out of the box already. But, three boxes to my right, something caught my eye. It was black. It was colorful. It was modern. It was aggressive! It was a box that said, "Hey, cool lady, let's kick this period's ass like it's past 4 AM at Bungalow 8 and you're on Andy Warhol's arm!" Someone had obviously done enough market research to pick up on the fact that a black background with bright color accents just pops off the shelf (can't express to you how many books I have mysteriously ended up owning based on the fact that my brain sees bright pink on a black cover and instantly equates it with the next Great American Novel and NYT best-seller...which never, in fact, ends up happening), because after some hemming and hawing over the comfort of the familiar versus this bright new interloper, the box of regular-weight U by Kotex Click tampons had popped right into my basket. Women will endlessly be attracted to the shiny and new.

After two trials of "Why could I not have been born a Brandon?" use, here's the list of pros and cons that I've compiled for this new product in regards to how they stand up/fill out/carry their (water) weight against my beloved Gentle Glides. As always, every woman (and her flow) is different, so just because I found it a certain way doesn't mean that you necessarily will, too. Just keep that in mind. Now that we've got that across, here are my VERY opinionated views:

From an aesthetic point of view, the box and packaging of U have it allllllll over Playtex. The tampon cartridges themselves are much smaller, which is convenient because trying to fit a super-weight Playtex tamp in the pocket of a pair of girl's jeans is pretty much like trying to shove an atomic missile into hiding inside of a lycra catsuit. You know something is in there. The U's small cartridge, ever so tiny enough to fit a handful in my summer clutch, also expands to click into place (hence the name, Kotex Click) rather neatly. I got the first box of U's when they offered blue, green, orange and yellow colors instead of the rather sickly purple they replaced the blues with, but hey. Still, they have much more personality than Gentle Glides. And I always thought a woman's tampons told you a lot about her personality.

The thinner plastic cartridge (I never understood why ANYONE, including my mother, would have ever used the cardboard cartridges; I mean, I get that they're more environmentally friendly, blah blah blah go hug a tree, but the sensation of trying to use one is like trying to insert the corner of the box of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese you just ate for lunch into your down-undah. NO THANK YOU!) also equates to an interesting other plus for Kotex-- you know that phenomenon that happens as you get towards the end of your Time of Bleed when your vagina just kind of shuts down like a government building under attack and stops accepting any foreign bodies into it and is all, "PENIS OR BUST!" and for the life of you, you cannot plead, cajole, coerce, or force another tampon comfortably in there to save your life, or your new pair of underwear? Well, with the very slim plastic cartridge body, the U just kind of...slides by your vaj's defenses unnoticed, like Bond. No struggle, no teeth-gritting, and no more crying and pleading while in a public bathroom stall that distracts other people around you. Solid.

However, the U does fall short of my beloved Gentle Glides in a few places: Namely, the fact that the regular-weight U's are about half the size and absorbency of the regular-weight Gentle Glides. They don't expand as well to fit and leak-proof your lady-bits quite as well as Gentle Glide's cotton protection does, either, probably due to the fact that Gentle Glide's cotton tamps are roughly the same softness and fluffiness that newborn baby kittens are, while U's tamps are made of something that feels suspiciously like yesterday's newspaper that's been lining your kid sister's hamster cage overnight. It's kind of stiff, kind of hard, and has this weird...well, this weird almost shell to the cotton, which acts as kind of like a primary defense system that your bodily fluid have to breach before the damn tamp will begin to absorb. Not, generally, the best thing that one looks for in a tampon.

All in all, this one's kind of a wash. While I continue to buy my Gentle Glides for their vastly superior protection, I've also started making sure that I always have a small box of the regular-weight U's kicking around for either those really light days when my vagina decides that it's on maximum security lockdown, or for those special occasion events like summer weddings, outings on boats, or barbecues when I need either my small clutch instead of a large purse, or don't want to look like I'm smuggling Cuban cigars back into the country in my denim short's pocket. So, U by Kotex Click-- worth the fancy-shamancy hip packaging, but not worth it to entrust any new pairs of underwear to provided that like Victoria, you should want to keep your little monthly visitor a secret.



  1. the metaphors seemed very forced. and monogamous relationships with products?! Puh-leeeeze. Anyway! Looking forward to more human relationship drama! That is your forte.

  2. Always, always appreciate constructive criticism. It's been both a slow and somehow furious month for human relationship drama, but something's in the works!