I have been menstruating for over half my life. I’m used to it. I’m, dare I say, pretty good at it. The monthly act of going to the drug store and buying my tampons, cramp meds and assorted accouterments that no longer faze me like it did when I was fifteen. I don’t think there’s anything unusual about the ease with which I deal with the emotional terrorist that is Aunt Flo.
But if I were the sort of woman who, let’s say, wasn’t comfortable getting their Tampax rung up by a bored-looking teenage clerk in a primary colored vest, I could get a period subscription box, filled with a combination of feminine protection products and sweets, delivered to me in a plain, unmarked receptacle once a month. That’s right—the subscription box trend has expanded to the realm of reproduction. But are they worth it? I sent away for a few of them to find out.
My Cotton Bunny (SCORE: 3/5)
What is a Cotton Bunny? Is it an…um…absorbent childhood toy? Or just a weird, possibly inappropriate name for a website about menstruation? According to their website, “Unlike other services, My Cotton Bunny does not unseal packaging from the manufacturers to condense our shipments. That way you know your products are as sterile as from the store.” Why the Hell would a business just send you a baggie of loose tampons? I wondered to myself while reading the claim. I later learned that other companies would do just that, and charge me handsomely for the privilege.
Of the four different subscription services I signed up for, I received the My Cotton Bunny shipment first. While the parcel was compact enough to fit in my mailbox (so my landlady didn’t have to see that I’m still reproductively fit), it had logos all over it, which was “Wrapped with care in Los Angeles, California.” So much for anonymity.
The box contained a (sealed, naturally) 18-count package of tampons, a small loofah, a matchbox sized “loofah soap bar,” (This month’s theme was “spa”) a bag of chocolate chip cookies, two microscopic pieces of chocolate, a single serving of powdered raspberry lemonade, one makeup remover wipe, two “cleansing cloths” and the ugliest bracelet I’ve ever seen, with the word “love” written on it. The price? $16. Which is OK, but not exactly a bargain, especially in light of the size of the chocolates. I refuse to acknowledge, let alone consume, a candy smaller than my finger.
Hello Flo (SCORE: 2/5)
Whenever you sign up for a subscription box, you’re asked for the first day of your last period. Regardless of when I said I’d last menstruated, however, the first day Hello Flo was able to ship my supplies was May 9th. Even if I had last ridden the Crimson Wave six months ago, according to Flo, I still wouldn’t need tampons until May 9th. At least their “boxes [would] always be discreet enough to ship to [my] office or dorm.” After signing up, they emailed me a newsletter with “women-centric content” praising George Clooney’s latest girlfriend for not being an idiot and posting links to a quiz that asked the question, “Are You a Feminist?”
My Hello Flo shipment took one metric eon to arrive. Had I actually been menstruating when I expected it, I would have been done by the time it showed up, thus negating the whole reason for subscribing. My unmarked box contained two packages of “organic” tampons and liners, a cotton holder printed with the Hello Flo logo, and a tin of hard candies that the accompanying literature described as “yummy.”
Le Parcel (SCORE: 1/5)
Along with charging an astronomical $5 for shipping (the only service that did so), Le Parcel has a shambolic mess of website that kept telling me the pantiliners I chose were “not valid for [my] specified period” (tee hee) and made me have to go through the rigmarole of signing up five tedious times. It was an ordeal that, if I were on my period, would have made me start sobbing. My order’s confirmation email also went straight to my spam folder, which is never a good sign.
For $12.50, I received a plastic baggie filled with five loose pantiliners, five regular tampons and five super tampons. I also received two Lindor truffles, two tiny perfume samples and a handful of “Perfectly Portable Cleansing Cloths,” all thrown into a pink box with the words “I’m here for you…” printed on it. Are you here for me, Le Parcel? If so, you’ve got a funny way of showing it.
The Period Store (SCORE: 4/5)
By offering DivaCups, eco-friendly reusable silicone cups that can get you through a year of periods, The Period Store kind of shoots themselves in the foot. I mean, they sell a product that renders their service useless. Naturally, I bought one, along with a grab bag of goodies.
My shipment came in nondescript box labeled “TPS.” The DivaCup rested atop a sealed envelope with “Go With the Flow” printed on it in, of course, pink ink. In that was two generic packs of ibuprofen, one generic pack of “cramp tabs,” two bags of acai berry herbal tea, a peanut butter and jelly flavored chocolate bar, and alleged art that read “Tomorrow is a NEW DAY. In the meantime, there’s always CHOCOLATE.” An accompanying postcard told me to eat “light meals” of things like miso soup, wild rice and kale during my cycle to “enhance” its phases. The envelope itself cost $15, which is, in a word, insane. The DivaCup cost $31.99, but will save me hundreds of dollars a year on these infernal boxes.
Megan Koester is a writer and comedian living in—wait for it—Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter @bornferal.