Ariel Swopes joins us this week to discuss her blog OH HEY PERIOD and how she’s fighting against Period Poverty. She also talks about Jubilance and how it works for her!

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Alice: Hi everyone! I’m Alice the social media manager for Jubilance and thank you so much for listening to Weekly Woman. Today I’m talking to an amazing woman, Ariel Swopes.

Ariel: That’s right.

Alice: Ariel started a blog and social media channels “Oh Hey Period”, to reshape the discussion around periods and work collectively to end period poverty and we’re so excited to have her with us today talking about that. So, welcome Ariel and thank you so much for joining us.

Ariel: Hi! Thank you for having me.

Alice: Yes. I just want to start with some more fun questions. What is your favorite food?

Ariel: So, okay, my favorite food, I’m of a salad girl, I love a good Greek salad or I love a good taco.  I don’t eat meat, so a good vegan or veggie taco, you got my heart, you stole my heart with it.

Alice: That sounds great. Yes, I don’t think I ever had a vegan taco.

Ariel: Oh, there is this place called Mission Taco out here, I live in St. Louis so it’s phenomenal, it’s bomb.

Alice: That’s awesome. Okay, what are you watching on TV right now?

Ariel: Okay. So, actually I just finished watching a show called Power and it doesn’t restart until January. So, honestly not really watching nothing right now, until that starts though, because that’s what gets my attention. I was going to start How to Get Away with Murder but I haven’t found a good time to start it and everybody’s talking about it so I’m like, I want to give it a try.

Alice: Yes, I’ve heard that’s a really good show.  I haven’t ever watched Power but–

Ariel: Oh, it is great!

Alice: Okay. I’ll have to check it out.

Ariel: Yes, there is a lot of action so, if you’re a big action person, drama, yes you will like it.

Alice: Okay, cool. What are your must-have essentials in your purse?

Ariel: If I do not have my lip gloss cancel the day. Cancel the day. I keep right down, actually I’m glancing over at my purse, I see my lip gloss, I see, of course, some period products and I guess I would say a notebook too, I always keep a memo pad with me with a pen just if I decide to jot something out.

Alice: Oh, that’s smart. Yes, I love the lip gloss you’re wearing right now, it’s so shiny, it’s really sparkly.

Ariel: Thank you! It’s three dollars.

Alice: Three dollars?

Ariel: Three dollars.

Alice: That’s even better.

Ariel: I know, right?

Alice: Where did you get it for three dollars?

Ariel: So, you can either go to elf.com, it’s a cosmetic line, it’s a vegan line actually or you can go to Target. I’m not sure Walmart has it but I know Target and the website it still has it. It’s really good.

Alice: That’s amazing. Can you talk me through– so you just did this amazing thing for thanksgiving you gave away menstrual care products and different items, can you talk about that?

Ariel: Yes. So, actually what’s so unique about what happened is the organization is actually a family organization within my family.

Alice: Awesome.

Ariel:
So, we are always giving food away for thanksgiving.  And being that I had just started Oh Hey Period this year, I’m like, “Hmm. Why don’t I give menstrual products out this time too.” And the toys was also something new too, just because we found out that the place we went to did have little kids, so we wanted them to feel extra special. I guess like someone really cares because we truly do and with the Holidays coming up, they can be a depressing time for families or an individual whose going through tough times, it adds onto their stress level. So, we kind of just merged together and then it happened.  I was a part of the cooking too, so I helped cook the meals as well.

Alice: Wow.

Ariel: So, it was a really busy day but the turnout was amazing, everybody there got fed, beautiful moment.  I didn’t want to post it at first but I’m like, I just want to spread the awareness and let everyone know that there are people that really do care to help others and empower others and that’s how that came about.

Alice: That’s amazing.

Ariel: Thank you.

Alice: How did you get all the products donated?

Ariel: So, actually prior to this event I had a donation drive in– I was– I get so emotional, I was amazed by the turnout we had so many donations and I’m actually getting ready to get out some more products but I knew that half of the stuff that I receive I was going to use a portion of it to go towards that event. So, I kind of just split it all out for what I had planned but we have more than enough products.  Everybody received a good amount, so it was really good.

Alice: Wow. Can you talk about what Oh Hey Period is and why you started it? Because, I guess we’re all getting and give away menstrual products but talk me through what it is.

Ariel: So, honestly, it came from personal, it was a personal thing I wanted to start it because I was one of those people that was ashamed to have a period, I was ashamed to use my voice, I didn’t want to talk about my period, I was scared to let people know that I was even on my period. And it became a time where I’m just like, “I am tired of this”, I am tired of pretending like I don’t have a period when there’s millions of other people that have one too.  And then I done more research and the crazy part is, I’m sorry excuse me, a couple of years back in school I had a project to do, it was a leadership project and you had to pick anything of your choice that shows leadership skills and it happens that I chose to give out menstrual products and granola bars and toiletries and all that good stuff to the less fortunate.

And as time went by, I found I kept talking about periods, periods, periods, frequents of the health, the woman’s body, how magical it is.  So once I picked up enough trash to just stop being in a period oppression, I just went for it, I just went for it.  Honestly, I didn’t plan it out like, “Hey, December 1st, I’m going to start–” I just went for work. And everybody’s been reacting to it pretty well, so I’m pretty excited about it, and I’ll see where it wants to go.  And then to add to that, we do give out menstrual care to women in need, of course.  But I just really wanted to reshape the discussions we have about periods and the stigma in all that because it’s a natural process and I feel like the conversations about them should be natural as well.

Alice: Yes. I think that’s completely true.  I find myself, like a couple of days ago with all the black Friday sales.

Ariel: Yes.

Alice:  I was in Victoria’s Secret and, right? Because they gave me a coupon for a free panty and what have you. So, I go in there I get my panty, I get my– I was like, “Oh!” there are bras on sale I buy some and I have the bag that I’m carrying around the city, because I live in New York City, and I feel that shame just walking around with my feminine products.

Ariel: It’s real!

Alice:
It’s not even like products for periods but I was like, “Oh, my God! I’m carrying this bag, this is so stressful!” I ended up putting it into my purse, but then I had to think about it and reshape this conversation in my head of, “Why do I care?” Why has society made this such a taboo for me to carry this bag around and like–

Ariel: Something you can’t even help, you know? Something you don’t even have control over like, I got my first period at 11 years old and there was nothing I could do to not have one, it just came, I was scared but it just came and it’s something I’m going to have to deal with up until that menopause phase, so, hey! Show off your period unapologetically, bling, that’s what you do.

Alice: Yes.

Ariel: And I just wanted us to be comfortable with it, that’s why I spark up the conversation.

Alice: Wow, that’s amazing. And all of your posts that you’ve been doing on social media, everyone should check out “Oh Hey Period”.

Ariel: Thank you so much.

Alice: Yes. You’re reshaping the conversation with your content and what she putting out there as well as these events that you’re having.

Ariel: Yes.

Alice: Can you talk about what’s in the future, what other events you’re creating?

Ariel: I’m very optimistic about being able to actually travel and bring awareness that way too, look, it’s happening all over the world, it’s not just a one city thing, a one country thing, literally this is a global issue and I’m hoping to be able to have like mission trips to go and help provide menstrual care to women just everywhere.  Everybody that has a bleeding vagina you are going to be able to have access to period products and that’s what I want.  That’s what the main goal is. And I want anyone who has a bleeding vagina to be able to talk about their period.  If it’s bringing your pain, speak to a doctor about it you don’t have to be ashamed anymore.  I just want you to be as comfortable as possible and I want to bridge that gap between, “I have an access to have an access to period products.” Because it’s something that’s so natural, again, let’s talk about it, it’s natural.  Let the conversations be natural.

Alice: That’s great. Can you talk about that, what is period poverty? What do we need to know about it?

Ariel:  Oh, wow.  It’s so much.  So period poverty is the lack of access to waste management, toilets, products itself, education about periods.  Growing up I was like, you know what? I just realized, yes I have been fortunate up until my college years where I experienced not having money to be able to buy products but for majority of my life I have had access to period products and I’m like, that’s all I know though, I don’t know why I have a period.  I don’t know why I need to use this, I don’t know any other product besides a pad so I had to educate myself and I realized that’s something most women are missing too, proper education. So, without proper education they’re bringing sanitary issues and sanitary issues bring a whole lot other issues.  So it’s just like one thing after another. So, it was just the lack of all that you need to know about your period, period products, waste management, and furthermore.

Alice: Yes. And what made you want to start working to end period poverty what got you there? And got you thinking about it?

Ariel:
Well, what happened with that was, after researching– after, obviously, having my own issue of not being able not afford products when I got to college, I realized, I’m like, is this a me thing or this is a global thing, like I said before. And after doing research I didn’t realize that so many women and girls were missing school due to not have an access to period products, I’m like, that’s a problem, why is no one talking about it? Literally, no one’s talking about it as much as we talk about other stuff, nobody was talking about it and that’s why I wanted to jump in and chime in on that conversation, to spark the conversation.

Alice: Thank you, thank you, that’s amazing. What do you think we as women or anyone can do to help you join this fight?

Ariel: A lot of people don’t want to start an organization or a blog or– be in terms with it which is totally understandable but even you just carrying extra products with you, even if they’re not on your period that day– carry a pad with you.  You’d never know who you’re going to come encounter with that really needs it. I tell my friends all the time, I’m like, don’t forget to pack your pads like you pack your lunch! Because you must never know who you’re going to run into.  Even if you are in a bathroom stall in target, there could be a girl next to you, “Hey, do you have a period product?”, “I sure do.” I keep period products, they call, I’m like the “period doctor”. I will not leave the house without extras because I just feel like I’d never know who I’m going to walk into or who I’m going to see there really needs it.

Alice: That’s amazing. And something that we can all really do.

Ariel: Seriously, yes.

Alice: Can you talk about what you think it means to be a woman today? What’s your definition for it?

Ariel: I would say being a woman today means empowering other women.  I feel that when you empower another woman it helps them walk into their full potential. And honestly, even when you do that, that’s not taking away from any of your goals and what you have to do in life but, empowering another woman would help us see the change that we want to see ’cause we have to help each other to see change and I feel like that’s what being a woman is all about. Stepping it to your power, owning your power, and empowering other women.  So, we have to stick together because we have so much going against us that it doesn’t help when we don’t empower each other basically.

Alice: That’s amazing Ariel. Thank you.

Ariel: Thank you.

Alice: Yes. And something else that you mentioned is in your purse right is Jubilance, can you talk about it a little bit? And how you’re feeling?

Ariel:
I feel amazing.  Honestly when I saw this I was like, I’ve never heard of something like this, PMS support, emotional support, I’m like, wait I do have bad PMS but there’s actually something that can help me? I’ve been taking it for a couple of days now and I just ovulated a couple of days ago. Usually I get cramps or headaches, I’m emotional, I’m just a wreck. I have been on the go, what you’ve done with this, no truly, it’s amazing. I will literally tell all my friends.  I will post about this, this is really great, it truly is Alice, I really love this.

Alice: That’s great Ariel. Yes, so it isn’t for the physical stuff like cramps, headaches.

Ariel: No.

Alice:
But it does help with anxiety, gloominess, irritability and so I’m glad it’s helping with that.

Ariel: Yes, I’m an emotional wreck most of the time and I just had trend of brain fart, sorry. I’m an emotional wreck most of the time during my cycle and during the time I’m getting ready to ovulate because I keep a calendar, so I can know when I got to ovulate. So, again, I’ve been taking this for a couple of days, I know it’s not for the physical but I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve been also watching what I’ve been eating as I’ve been taking this emotional support that maybe half-eased my cramps too when it comes to my ovulation but it’s been working and I’m excited.  I have actually two bottles and I plan on using it all. So, I’m really excited about it.

Alice: Good, we’re so glad it could help you.

Ariel: Definitely.  When it came in the mail my sister is like, “You’re sharing it, right?”

Alice: “Get away!”

Ariel: Yes, “Get your own! Go buy it!” No, so am I.

Alice: Okay. So, if a woman were to just meet you on the street and you had a minute or so to give them a piece of advice what would it be?

Ariel: I would have definitely say, “Find your voice, use it and own it.” Simple as that.  When you find your voice you learned to use it, and when you learn to use it, you learned to own it.  I think that’s enough say right there.

Alice:
That’s awesome, thank you so much for being on Ariel.

Ariel: Thank you so much!

Alice: Do you have anything else to add?

Ariel: So, after going through this, I want to add that after going through this journey of talking about periods being an advocate for women’s health. I’m actually thinking about transitioning to becoming a physician assistant specializing in women’s health.  So, I’m in the midst of getting ready to take courses for that, to see how that turns out but I’m very interested in studying medicine now, specifically towards women’s health.

Alice: Amazing.

Ariel:
That’s my next move and it’s all God’s plan, so we will see how that works out, I’m excited and thank you so much for having me today.

Alice:
Yes!

Ariel: Thank you for creating Jubilance.  It really is great and I cannot wait to have everyone to try it around me.

Alice: Thank you so much for being on.  It was amazing to get to talk to you.

Ariel: Thank you so much for having me again.