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Holly 4In this exclusive extract from Holly Grigg-Spall’s book, “Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control” (the inspiration for a documentary project from Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein), the author, who is also our Fierce Woman of the Month, discusses the medical importance of healthy menstruation and reveals how a culture that denies the necessity of this bodily process has developed alongside the growing popularity of hormonal contraceptives.

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Many women now only experience the fake period of the hormonal birth control-induced withdrawal bleed as a consequence of long-term use of the birth control pill or hormonal contaceptive devices from their teens onwards. As a result, it is just a small step to the situation we currently inhabit culturally in which not having a period at all is presented as preferential, both medically and socially.

At the release of the continuous oral contraceptive brands such as Seasonique and Lybrel medical practitioners argued that because for much of history women had spent their fertile lives pregnant or breastfeeding, menstruation is in fact biologically unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Their logic is that a functioning uterus and ovaries are more susceptible to going wrong than organs that are “switched off” by hormonal contraceptives.

Within our culture in which periods are generally presented as disgusting and unfeminine women cannot have an opinion on their own periods that is free from this cultural influence. Although some experience overbearing discomfort during menstruation, some do not, and others feel the benefits of experiencing menstruation equal to or outweighing the cramps and inconvenience. Of course this culture  plays its part in what women see as inconvenient and difficult. According to the medical industry we are all disabled by menstruation and the conversation is framed by this ideology.

This way of thinking emerges every few months in a spate of op-eds and news reports. It is given traction by Dr Elisimar M Coutinho’s “Is Menstruation Obsolete?Coutinho is an influential member of the World Health Organization. His research brought about the creation of the Depo Provera injection and implant, as well as other hormonal contraceptive methods. Coutinho’s coauthor on this book was Population Council Scientist Sheldon Segal. With the perpetually pregnant cave woman as their standard for what is natural and good for women and their bodies, they argue for menstrual suppression via pharmaceutical drugs.

birth control 1

In an attempt to outwit any criticism in the preface it is written, “Some women have interpreted this book as an attack on menstruation and have resented the implication that there is something inherently wrong with the process.” Ignoring much of history to create their own falsified narrative the writers set up their thesis to be a counter a counter-attack to the prevalent belief that menstruation is “natural, normal and beneficial.” They set themselves up as radical proponents of women’s liberation from ignorance and primitivism, but they and their ideas are only products of a long history of misogyny-led medicine. The perpetually pregnant cave woman is the ideal and they argue that women must return to this state albeit artificially through medication.

On this Dr. Elizabeth Kissling writes, “Coutinho documents numerous menstrual maladies, such as premenstrual syndrome, anemia, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, and menstrual migraine, combined with the anthropological inferences about the menstruation of our Paleolithic ancestors, and concludes “The attitude that menstruation is a ‘natural event’ and therefore beneficial to women in some way has no basis in scientific fact.” Note also that Paleolithic women did not engage in such “unnatural” practices as shaving their legs, having their pubic hair removed with hot wax, or deliberately starving themselves to conform to an idealized body type. These practices all carry health risks, yet contemporary American women are widely encouraged to practice all three.”

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

There are some, backed by the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, who argue that menstruation is a sign of good health and should be treated as such. This was once standard medical practice, prior to hormonal contraceptives. Having periods is an indicator of healthiness on a par with blood pressure. In fact, a woman’s cycle ensures her blood pressure is naturally lowered in the second half of the month. Monitoring teenagers and young women’s cycles can ensure the early treatment of any arising health problems.

The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research presented a scientific forum to the New York Academy of Sciences proposing that the menstrual cycle be considered the fifth vital sign. “The menstrual cycle is a window into the general health and wellbeing of women, and not just a reproductive event,” said Dr Paula Hillard at this event, professor of obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “It can indicate the status of bone health, heart disease, and ovarian failure, as well as long-term fertility.”

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If you’d like to see more research done in regards to this topic, you have four more days to fund a Kickstarter campaign that is set to do so with the development of a documentary inspired by Holly’s book and supported by women’s health activists and filmmakers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.

moods piece 1

Photo Credit: Alphonse Mucha at WikiArt

As women, I’m sure a number of us have heard the criticism or at least are aware of the stereotype that we’re more emotional, cry on the job, have mood swings, so on and so forth. And the truth is our female brain is wired differently than the brains of our male counterparts. Our systems are more complex and more intricate. We are more emotional.

For starters, our monthly reproductive hormone cycle is at least five times more complex than men’s. Men begin the day with high testosterone and it dissipates throughout the day. They make more testosterone while they are sleeping, and the cycle repeats.

Women, on the other hand, have a monthly rhythm in which estrogen rises during the first half and falls during the second half, with an inverse correlation of progesterone. Testosterone is typically highest when estrogen is highest (around ovulation). Testosterone is associated with confidence and increased libido. Estrogen is related to greater sociability and energy. Progesterone boosts our metabolism and also has a calming, anti-anxiety affect on our system.

These reproductive hormones have a substantial affect on our mood and energy levels on their own. Additionally, they interact with other hormones and neurotransmitters and their receptors throughout our body. Most importantly for our moods, they affect the levels of serotonin and dopamine.

Furthermore, a woman’s brain structure is even calibrated to be more sensitive to emotions – both our own and those around us. Women use the right side of their brain, connected to emotion and emotion processing, more often than men. Brain imaging also shows that women have more areas of the brain dedicated to gut feelings, and areas that assess the thoughts of others.

As psychiatrist Julie Holland wrote in this must-read New York Times op-ed, we are this way due to “evolutionary design” – being more in tune with emotions helps us better understand the needs of our children and to more accurately assess our partners’ intentions. Both of these things were necessary to our survival and the survival of the species. Likewise, the intricate cycle of reproductive of hormones in women enable us to facilitate and sustain life during conception and pregnancy.

Image Courtesy of RoseWellness.com

Image Courtesy of RoseWellness.com

The emotionality that comes with these strengths and abilities is a sign of health. However, I’ll be the first to admit that the emotional components are not always the most easily dealt with – and sometimes it can feel like they sneak up on you. Here’s what you can expect throughout the month and some best practices to even out the highs and lows:

Cycle Week One:

Your monthly cycle begins with the first day of menstrual bleeding. At this time, your reproductive hormone levels are at their lowest. This often correlates with low energy, and often low mood. Be sure to build in time for rest and to avoid strenuous exercise. Your intuition will be heightened during this time as activity in the corpus callosom, which connects the right and left hemispheres of your brain, is increased.

Cycle Week Two:

Towards the end of your period, your estrogen levels will begin to increase. By a few days after your last bleeding day, your energy will increase with the added estrogen. Estrogen also seems to correlate with higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for positive mood. As you near the end of week two, your body will be gearing up for ovulation. This will be accompanied by a higher level of testosterone, boosting both your sex drive and confidence levels.

Cycle Week Three:

At the beginning of week three, you will have just ovulated or will be ovulating. (Most women ovulate between days 13 and 17 of their cycle.) You will be vivacious, full of energy, and confident. This is the time to schedule public presentations, meetings with your boss to discuss that raise, or a first date. Your body will also enjoy strenuous exercise during this time.

Towards the end of week three, your estrogen levels will drop and your body will start to produce progesterone. Progesterone will raise your body temperature, often correlating with an increased metabolism and appetite. You may begin to feel a bit calmer and introspective.

Cycle Week Four:

The severe drop of estrogen will result in lower energy levels. You may find that you are unable to do the same workout routines you were able to do just a week ago with ease. As progesterone levels peak, your brain will start to prioritize attention to detail. Progesterone is the pregnancy hormone and you find yourself more inclined towards nesting activities, or find that you are more emotional. Build in some extra time for rest and practice some self care rituals. Taking care of yourself now will prep your body for a better period and start of the next cycle.

Remember that fluctuations in your mood and energy levels are normal – they’re part of what makes you the fierce woman and life-creating force that you are.

maximmag-combinedFor years the media has often been blamed for objectifying women, however some studies suggest that the media is not the only culprit in doing so, but also maybe the way in which our brains are wired. New research has shown that upon first look, the human mind processes women as parts, but men as a whole. What this means is that when someone looks at a woman, different parts of her body, like her breasts, will be studied first and then her whole body will be looked at. Men, on the other hand, are seen as a whole when someone gazes at them, therefore they do not need to worry about having every inch of themselves involuntarily scrutinized from top to bottom, which probably partially also explains why we see more women’s than men’s magazines on shelves.

After viewing a slideshow of 100 Years of Female Objectification we’re not convinced that women will ever stop being the object of everyone’s affection, but we are hopeful about a more positively empowering twist in the way in which women are being portrayed and perceived. The most recent example of this change in times is the induction of Kate Lanphear, previous style director at T magazine and Elle, who became the new Editor in Chief of Maxim Magazine , the once top selling men’s magazine that’s seen significant declines in readership over the past six years. And yes we also ironically share a name we with this magazine that became most popular for it’s sultry, nearly-naked magazine cover shots of powerful women, the exact opposite of the archetype of a woman we encourage our readers to be. You can read here about how and why we very differently chose our name.

Kate from Maxim

To our delight, Maxim Magazine’s new goals are more in line with ours, in it’s mission to turn the magazine in to a lifestyle brand that provides readers with more information about the people featured in the magazine, while trying to influence the way female beauty is viewed by men. Lanphear wants men to fall in love with the women featured in the publication, rather than just see them as a pretty face or sexual object. In an interview back in February with NY Mag, she is quoted as saying,

“We want to celebrate women’s physical beauty because it’s an essential part of the brand, but we also want to celebrate their success and tell their stories. They’re as successful and energetic and driven and confident as the men we want to speak to. My vision is to show women who will be a partner. She’s not oiled up on a surfboard, she’s carrying the surfboard to the back of the truck you’re going to go to Montauk in together. That’s the fantasy and the aspiration.”

Women’s beauty and what is defined as beautiful has been a topic of discussion for centuries ranging from “acceptable” female body shapes to fashionable makeup trends. What remains a constant in feminine beauty discussions is that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, however it is often still strongly influenced by external forces, like media publications. We fortunately now have the ability to positively impact as well as alter the messages that are being transmitted to the public, and especially those towards women.

Image courtesy of alexblackmore.com.

Revamping a men’s magazine is no easy feat, however with a woman taking the reigns, it gives females hope for a brighter future. This is another ironic point of relation in the development of both Maxim brands given our Founder is a male who asked his daughter to partner with him to help bring a feminine perspective to his revolutionary male vision for feminine products.

A few generations ago a woman was expected to look after the home and she was not encouraged to work. The old mentality that “women should be seen and not heard” is slowly changing and evolving into something positive, in which females are gaining more power in the workplace and are starting to be viewed as strong beings, beyond just their look. Objectification and the old-school mentality of appreciating women more for their looks rather than their ideas or spirits is becoming a thing of the past,  giving all of us Fierce Women something positive to look forward to! Only time and the increase in sales of Maxim magazine will tell if the readers of this once #1 ranked publication and the general male population will feel the same….

Holly 2If last month’s Fierce Woman of the Month, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, got to know the work of this month’s Fierce Woman of the Month, Holly Grigg-Spall, we are certain she’d be spearheading the introduction of another similar bill to Congress, like the Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act we reported on last month. Bill or no bill, Holly, in the true pioneering spirit of a Fierce Woman, took it upon herself to research and delve more deeply into a woman’s health issue that is oh so dear to our bleeding hearts (and vaginas) – birth control pills.

The ingredients and effects of synthetic laden oral contraceptives are not only questionable, but even worse, they are sometimes used to thwart menstruation completely! To many, the idea of no periods may sound awesome, but as Green Feminine Hygiene Queens and in the experience of Holly and many other birth control users, their is something that’s just not right or natural about that.

As Fierce Women, we are naturally feminists. Like some of the reasons that increased the use of tampons in the history of tampons, early feminists appreciated the freedoms provided by oral contraception. Fifty five years ago when birth control pills were first introduced to the market, they too provided a way for women to engage in previously male dominated arenas of work and play without having to deal with the sometimes “hassles” of the exclusive feminine experience of menstruation and conception.

In the process of gaining these new freedoms, millennial feminists are starting to rally and march to the beat of a new drum tune that asks “What are we losing in ignoring and deleting our menstrual cycles?” …and…”How can something that separates you from your most primal and natural identity be empowering?”

Holly 4

These are some of the primary and intriguing questions featured in the trailer for the documentary inspired by Holly’s book, Sweetening the Pill. While we may not yet have clear conclusive scientific evidence to provide answers to the above questions, the documentary will capture the essence of some of these startling facts and statistics found in Holly’s book:

  • Today eighty percent of women will take the birth control pill at some point during their lifetimes.
  • The Pill significantly lowers a woman’s libido — sometimes irreversibly so, since “the impact on testosterone levels is permanent.
  • Using hormonal contraceptives greatly increases a woman’s risk for developing many life-threatening conditions, including heart disease and breast, cervical, and liver cancers.
  • Recent research shows that if a woman starts taking the Pill before she turns twenty her risk of developing breast cancer in later life is doubled.
  • 63.7% of women go off the pill within the first year due to unwanted side effects.

The documentary will hopefully fuel more research to be done on the effects of the birth control pill and explore holistic recommendations for safer contraceptive methods, while most importantly empowering women to make the most informed contraceptive choice.

 

The team behind converting “Sweetening the Pill” to a documentary is just as fierce as Holly; some of the members include our friend, period party partner and Hormonal Health Coach, Nicole Jardim, and the dynamic duo who produced the groundbreaking documentary “The Business of Being Born” – Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Due to the controversial nature of the documentary, this dynamic team is having trouble getting the funding it needs to get the film complete and to the masses, which led them to launch a Kickstarter campaign that needs the support and backing of other Fierce Women like you who deserve and demand more insight in regards to women’s health.

If you’re not yet convinced to back this project, check out our exclusive interview with Holly below to learn more about her inspiration for writing the book that will hopefully change the way we handle and think about birth control in the future.

At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?

Carol Downer – she is a women’s health activist who has been fighting for our reproductive sovereignty since the 1970s. She began the vital and revolutionary self-help movement, which resulted in a huge leap in knowledge and information regarding women’s bodies. Carol collaborated on ‘A New View Of A Woman’s Body.’ She founded the feminist women’s health clinics of California and the “women’s health in women’s hands” initiative. Carol is fierce and she is utterly fierceless, participating in protests across the country. She has championed my book, for which I am very grateful and when we meet, which we try to do regularly, we end up talking for hours.

What inspired you to write “Sweetening the Pill?”

It began as a blog that I wrote about my experience using the Pill for ten years and then specifically using a popular brand called Yaz. I had written a feature for Easy Living magazine titled ‘What You Should Know About The Pill’ and I was, at the time, newly moved to the US with no working VISA and lots of time on my hands. Writing the blog – subtitled, Who am I when I’m not on the Pill? – allowed me to blend my personal experience with research. I had many many women get in touch with me and I realized this was a subject – the side effects of the Pill – about which very little was being said and that women badly needed more information. I wrote a few pieces for newspapers etc, then some two years later or so I pitched a book proposal to a small independent publisher in the UK.

Did you ever think your research and book would be turned in to a documentary with the help of other fierce women like Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein? Are there any other documentaries on the topic out there?

There aren’t any other documentaries on this topic specifically, no. There have been a few TV specials and long form articles in big magazines like Vanity Fair, but no documentaries. I wrote about Ricki and Abby’s film The Business of Being Born in my book, there were so many parallels between the experience women have with birth and with birth control. This one-size-fits-all approach wherein the woman’s health is not always paramount. While I was still writing the book I wrote to Abby, but it took a year for us to meet (just after the book came out). At that time I had been trying to make a documentary with a small team in LA, but we had little time and no money. Meeting Abby and Ricki and having them feel so passionately about this and just really “get” it in the best way from the very start has been brilliant. Even if I had known or hoped they might make this film, I would still have been amazed at how supportive and smart they are about this women’s health issue, particularly one that is so little discussed. I am thrilled to see how they take my book and use it as a springboard to discuss this topic in a way that it bound to surprise and inspire even me.

What would be your advice to other fierce women out there looking to positively change the norm for other women’s  health issues like you are doing in the realm of hormonal health and birth control?

Start the conversation – that’s how it happened for me – two friends talking about how the Pill made them feel and what they wanted to do about it. Talk about the things you don’t think you’re supposed to talk about. If you’re experiencing something, it’s very likely other women are too. Do the work you do from a place of wanting women’s lives to be better and wanting them to feel validated in their experiences. Take note of the evidence others dismiss as anecdotal only, as it’s the canary in the coalmine. Be someone women can come to, via email, at parties, for advice and to speak in confidence. Don’t mind being battered with criticism and personal insults, just know you’re part of a progression and try to stay true to your first feelings.

You recently joined us in writing a guest blog post on the topic of the Robin Danielson Act, a bill that is asking Congress for funding to do more research on the toxic ingredients found in conventional feminine hygiene products. Are there any similar bills being introduced to Congress for birth control pills?

Not exactly, but a group of parents who have lost daughters to the NuvaRing and Yaz as a result of the higher blood clot risk inherent in these methods are fighting for change in the FDA process, in research publication and proliferation,and in how lawsuits are dealt with when a birth control method results in serious injury and death. See Informed Choice for Amerika for some of their work – http://www.informedchoiceforamerika.com/ – this is a very important cause as many women don’t know the risk or the symptoms they should look out for. We will be investigating this further in the documentary.

Image courtesy of sistersofmercy.com

Image courtesy of sistersofmercy.com

You know that desperate feeling when you have you period and you reach into your handbag and frantically look for a tampon or pad only to find nothing? Imagine having that same sensation every single menstrual cycle, only being without the option of running to the nearest drugstore, friend or vending machine to fix the problem. What would you do?

This is the dilemma that homeless women face each period, due to the lack of sufficient access to feminine hygiene products. Many shelters do not have enough products to distribute to these women as feminine hygiene products are rarely distributed, and people have become so desensitized to homelessness that they barely even recognize or realize that there is a real problem at hand.

Image courtesy of tumblr.com

If you are a regular reader of the Maxim Hygiene blog, you know that women’s health is one of our top priorities and that we want nothing more than for women to feel fierce, in charge, and healthy. Many women who are without a home encounter lots of hardships daily like finding food to eat, a warm place to sleep and avoiding sexual assault. When homeless women get their period, their stress levels increase ten-fold. Their self-worth drastically diminishes, and they feel vulnerable, ashamed and unclean because they often do not have access to a bathroom or a shower, let alone a sanitary pad or tampon. Countless homeless women have resorted to stealing feminine hygiene products or looking for old rags that they can cut or tear up and use to absorb the blood. This practice is very unsanitary and dangerous, as the rags that are used are often old and soiled and could cause infection, which ultimately leaves women more susceptible to contracting serious, life-threatening diseases.

Image courtesy of indiegogo.com #HappyPeriod.

Image courtesy of indiegogo.com #HappyPeriod.

Even in our modern female empowering times, menstruation is still considered a very taboo subject , so people often try to ignore it, making the situation worse for homeless women. Chelsea VonChaz is one inspiring fierce woman who refused to turn a blind eye when she was driving down Los Angeles’ skid row and saw a homeless woman who was clearly on her period and in need of some product. It was a life changing moment for Chelsea that led to her creation of the #HappyPeriod social movement, which started with just Chelsea and her friends gathering together to create bags filled with feminine hygiene products and distributing them around L.A. to homeless women in need. Their efforts have expanded to Toronto and they hope to make the movement a global effort with your help.

We encourage you to check out the #HappyPeriod fundraiser to see the wonderful work these women are doing. Every woman deserves to feel good about herself, and a period shouldn’t stop her. If you feel inclined after this article to help out women in need, you can contact your local shelter and donate some feminine hygiene products, or consider donating to a fundraiser of your choice, like #HappyPeriod which will put your money towards making a homeless woman’s life a bit simpler and with fewer worries.

Carolyn Maloney

With only 20% of the U.S. Congress being comprised of women, every female vote is fiercely necessary in order to better represent the needs of the female population. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is our hometown state’s first and current woman to represent New York City’s 12th Congressional district (she was also the first woman to give birth while in office).

Since she was first elected to Congress over thirteen years ago, Congresswoman Maloney has created positive change in many different sectors of government. We are most in awe of her nationally-recognized advocacy for women’s issues, one in particular which we are watching very closely – The Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act, a bill named after a woman who died from Toxic Shock Syndrome as a result of using a conventional tampon brand.  Maloney has tried to pass the legislation in Congress some nine times, re-introducing it again just last month, in a year that has seen a huge consciousness shift around period acceptance and awareness of environmental toxins.

The act asks that there be independent testing on all feminine hygiene products – from tampons to douches – by the National Institutes of Health that investigates the safety of the chemicals and synthetic fibers used by many femcare companies. These findings would then be made public, as would all ingredients – listed on the side of the box, a practice we at Maxim Hygiene products already implement as seen on this pack of our organic chlorine free cotton tampons.

Tampon-Ingredients

Although there is some research out there already on the topic, like the widely distributed Chem Fatale Report, there is still cause and demand for more. As a company who is committed to women’s health, we are inspired by Carolyn Maloney’s allegiance to this issue, which is why we’ve elected her as May’s Fierce Woman of the Month.

We had the great privilege of connecting with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney about her dedication to the cause in this exclusive Q&A.

What inspired you to create the Robin Danielson Act originally?

I first introduced Robin Danielson legislation in 1999 to create a program to conduct the collection and analysis of data on Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a bacterial infection considered rare but more prevalent in the 80s and 90s, and linked to high-absorbency tampon use. The bill was named after Robin Danielson, a woman and mother who tragically died from Toxic Shock Syndrome in 1998 at the age of 44. I remember being shocked at how little data is being collected and analyzed on a product used so frequently by women throughout the course of her life. If tampons have the potential to be life threatening or cause some other adverse health effects we must do something about this for women everywhere.

Over time, greater awareness about the environment has led to more concern about the chemicals and other contaminants being absorbed in women’s bodies, which is why an updated version of the Robin Danielson Act in 2014 called for new research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on additives in all feminine hygiene products. I reintroduced the bill again recently with the new name the Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act of 2015.

Why do you feel it is taking so long for this legislation to go to vote in Congress?

In Congress things take time, in part because it often takes strong bipartisan support to get anything done. A further factor in passing this bill is that women’s health and feminine hygiene are unfortunately not something members of Congress are comfortable discussing. I continue to reintroduce this legislation, because it helps move the conversation forward.

Do you think it is fair to make comparisons with the way the FDA and government has responded to the problematic ingredients of toothpaste, as RH Reality Check recently did?

The FDA is looking at triclosan, and many companies have removed it from toothpaste, but it is important to recognize that this chemical, which is an endocrine disruptor, is included in many feminine hygiene products. My legislation would require the FDA to consider the health impacts of all the chemicals and contaminants in these products as well.

Do you think the taboo around menstruation is partly to blame for lack of progress in research into these products?

Menstrual health has long been considered a taboo subject and something that is often overlooked and brushed aside. This bill helps begin a conversation to encourage research and ensure that women live healthy lives.

What can women do to help you and support you in enacting this legislation?

The best way to generate greater support for the bill is for individuals to call or write their representatives in Congress and ask them to support the bill. It’s great to raise awareness through word of mouth, and also through social media. Interested women can be advocates by sharing articles and information through their social media networks.

At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?

There are many fierce women in my life but I’m particularly inspired by women in political office who’ve taken charge and are leaders on issues that have gone unnoticed. That’s why we need more women political leaders so that a full range of perspectives can be addressed. I hope all women can become fierce and see how she can change the world through each action.

So, if you’re feeling as inspired as we are about this Fierce Woman, flex your feminine voting powers by calling or emailing your Congressperson and telling them you need them to support this bill. Don’t know who your Congressperson is? Click here where the fine ladies and our friends at Women’s Voices for the Earth have a nifty Congressperson locator tool.

Image courtesy of senhorcabo.com

This year for Mother’s Day instead of buying mom (or grandma, or aunt, or whoever is a mother figure in your life) a gift, why not reconnect with your inner child and make her something like you used to? She will surely appreciate the extra effort and will cherish your present that much more.

At Maxim Hygiene we believe that health is very important, especially women’s health, so we also wanted to link back your gift giving to well being in some way that will contribute to nourishing your mama figure’s mind, body, and soul. We have compiled a list of five DIY health-oriented gift ideas to inspire you, but please do not feel limited to our suggestions.

If arts and crafts or cooking aren’t your strong suit, consider taking mom on a hike this Mother’s Day, to a botanical garden, or you could brew her a pot of herbal tea, run her a bath, give her one of her favorite books to read and forbid her from running any errands or cleaning. Your mother is busy being superwoman the other 364 days of the year already – she deserves this one day off to recharge her batteries and reconnect with herself!

Our DIY-Health Oriented Gift Guide:

Homemade Granola

Help mom start the morning off right with homemade granola that does not have any additives or preservatives that store-brought brands often have. It is very easy to make, and you control exactly what goes into the granola. Certified health coach and blogger Elizabeth Rider has a great basic granola recipe that is low in sugars. Consider gifting your granola in a mason jar that you can customize and decorate yourself.

Image courtesy of elizabethrider.com

 

Recipe Book

Does your mom love to cook but already owns every cook book under the sun? If the answer is yes, then why not make your own? Search for some healthy recipes on blogs, in magazines, or even in other cooking books that include ingredients and dishes that your mom already likes, and put them in your own DIY recipe book. You can add in family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, as well as pictures of you and your mom and of other loved ones to customize the book even further. Check out these templates to get inspiration for the layout of your cookbook.

Image courtesy of topinspired.com

Indoor Herb Garden

If mom has a green thumb and also enjoys cooking, then an indoor herb garden is a great gift that she is sure to enjoy. If you are feeling ambitious and want to create a full indoor herb garden for your mother, check out Brit+Co’s tips on how to get started. Otherwise we advise you to take any large pot you may have lying around, decorate it, buy some seeds and soil, and package everything up with a nice bow so that your mother can create her own garden as she sees fit.

Image courtesy of brit.co.

Aromatherapy Shower Disks

Very simple and easy to make, these aromatherapy shower disks are great if your mom is pressed for time and cannot take a long bath, but still wants some R&R. Add her favorite essential oil scents to the mixture, or choose ones you think will be most relaxing. Put the disks in a beautiful airtight container, like a mason jar, so that the disks do not dry out and can be used for weeks or months after Mother’s Day.

Image courtesy of homegrownandhealthy.com

Image courtesy of homegrownandhealthy.com

Lavender Eye Pillow

This DIY requires a bit of sewing but you could easily sew it by hand if you do not have a sewing machine. Eye pillows are great to use after a yoga session or whenever your mom wants to rest her tired eyes for a few minutes. Lavender is a very calming scent and helps ease anxiety.

Image courtesy of yogahound.co.uk.

Image courtesy of yogahound.co.uk.

Happy Mother’s Day from the Maxim Hygiene team to all the fierce mamas out there! Go out and treat yourselves this May 10th!

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