These awesome teens take tampons to school to help their friends in case of an 'emergency'
via Tara Ahrens

Earlier this month, blogger Tara Ahrens posted a photo of her teenage sons, Micah, 15, and Elijah, 16, to the private Facebook page Pantsuit Nation, and it received over 65,000 reactions.

It was an image of them back-to-school shopping at Target that read: "My teenage boys helped me shop today which included buying their little sister's first bras … because breasts happen."

"Both boys carry a tampon and a pad in their backpacks in case one of their friends needs one," she continued. "Just a mom out here, trying to erase gender taboo!!"


via Tara Ahrens

Ahrens' comfort discussing menstruation with her teenage sons was a breath of fresh air for many on the Pantsuit Nation page.

It broke down a long-standing taboo surrounding teenage boys and periods. Most males of that age group live in a mensuration-free bubble, only to learn the ropes when they become husbands or fathers.

While some men reject any involvement with menstruation or period products for their entire lives.

It also prompted a lot of people to ask themselves an important question: Why can't boys help their friends when they're having period troubles?

RELATED: Male athlete gets roasted for comparing period pain to skinned knees

She discussed the origins of her idea in a blog post she wrote for CafeMom:

I first started talking about this with them last year, after reading an article about a man on the Appalachian Trail who gave a tampon from his backpack to a woman who had bled through. He reportedly said something like, "It's no big deal; I grew up with a mom and sisters … " and that rocked my world. As I was driving in my car one day, I looked at my boys in the rearview mirror and nonchalantly told them that they should probably put a tampon in their backpacks in case any of their friends had an emergency. They seemed to think it over and didn't say much, because teenagers.

Intrigued by her taboo-busting, out-of-the-box parenting skills, Upworthy got the chance to speak with Ahrens about the discomfort our society has surrounding menstruation and how people have reacted to her unique parenting policy.

Upworthy: What were your sons' first reactions to you asking them to carry period products with them to school?

Tara Ahrens: When I nonchalantly suggested they carry a tampon in their backpacks, they were a little surprised. I explained that it might come in handy in case one of their friends has a crisis at school. We had already discussed periods and how traumatic it can be for a girl to have a bleed-through at school, so they already knew to behave like a gentleman and never mock or laugh. It was a logical next step for them to just tell their friends they always have products, in case they ever need one.

Upworthy: What do the teachers at your sons' school think about their willingness to help out their friends when they've having period problems?

Tara Ahrens: This has all snowballed so quickly that they really haven't had a chance to discuss it with many teachers. The few that read the the article think it's "awesome," "astounding," "so cool," and they love all of it.

via Tara Ahrens

Upworthy: What does their father think about it?

Tara Ahrens: My husband, Lucas, is a bit puzzled by the response on the internet. He says "if someone needs help, you help them; that's just being a good human."

Upworthy: Have you inspired any other parents you know to do the same thing?

Tara Ahrens: I have some friends of girls who have said they appreciate this. Some of my friends will remember it for the future (when their sons are older). I have talked with a few friends who love the idea of this; but their sons don't have the same personalities as my boys so this approach wouldn't be a good fit for their families. They have mentioned discussing menstruation more often to normalize it.

Upworthy: I'm sure that a lot of parents who read this article will want to encourage their sons to do the same. Do you have any advice for helping them approach such a sensitive topic?

Tara Ahrens: My advice to other parents is; know your child! Like all parenting ideas, some will work for our children and others we just disregard. If your son is in a friend group that is both male and female and they are a kid not easily swayed by the opinions of others, this might be a great fit.

You get to that point by taking the embarrassment and shame out of menstruation conversations from the time they are young. I've always given my kids short, age appropriate, medical answers. Long talks do not work, but a bunch of quick, teachable moments over time, can easily erase any taboos.

RELATED: Ack! I need chocolate! The science of PMS food cravings

Upworthy: It's 2019, why is menstruation still such an uncomfortable topic for many?

Tara Ahrens: I think that menstruation has been a tricky thing historically. It has definitely been used to control women. The fact that women were referred to as "unclean" is a stigma that still exists. Women have been told their thoughts are "crazy" or "unclean" based on their "time of the month". This misconception is going to take time to change. The more we talk frankly and biologically about it, the more we can normalize it.

Upworthy: What's the most common criticism you've received from talking about menstruation?

Tara Ahrens: The most common, and surprising criticism, is that my boys are somehow forcing tampons on strangers. I think a lot of people read a title and based on their own period shame, their first response is "No." The truth is, my boys have discussed this with their existing friend group.

Another baffling comment is that girls and women should handle this themselves. Period poverty in the USA is a very big reality. Our school is a low-income school. Fifty-one percent of girls nationwide miss out on classroom time due to a lack of period products. We have students who don't have a "mom" or even a mom-figure in their life. We have students who don't have a home. To insinuate that everyone has access to the same resources is pretty asinine. No girl should suffer just because she doesn't have access to period products. Generosity and kindness are choices we make and they are not gender-related.

Many doubters scoffed at the idea that any teenage girl would ever ask a boy for a period product. They are wrong! The day my essay for CafeMom was published, Elijah came home in need of more supplies because one of his friends came to him with an emergency. He's been asked twice. It is working!

I'm not any better of a mom than anyone else. I'm winging it and trying to add some big teachable moments in between the extreme living that is parenting four kids.

via Tara Ahrens

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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