After becoming a father to four girls, James Van Der Beek wants to help put an end to period poverty.
In an Instagram post, the actor revealed that he will be working with Walmart and the menstrual brand Always to promote their joint #EndPeriodPoverty campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue and help provide menstrual products so that girls don't have to miss out on confidence building activities.
"You know, it's one of those things that before I had kids, as a guy, I just never thought about. But it’s an issue that, according to [the campaign’s research], is affecting at least one in five girls in this country — which is insane and just not okay,” Van Der Beek said.
Period poverty, or the inability to afford or gain access to menstrual hygiene products, affects millions of women and girls across the US.
According to a study from Always, Procter & Gamble’s leading feminine hygiene brand, nearly 1 in 5 girls in the US has missed school because she didn’t have access to period products.
“It’s not just about pads, it’s about awareness. And, for me, it’s about speaking to other dads and saying, ‘Hey guys, I know we probably had, like, awkward puberty education early on, but that awkwardness is actually really detrimental to our daughters and to all of these young girls growing up,’” Van Der Beek said.
Menstrual stigma is yet another obstacle people who menstruate have to deal with monthly. Around 70% of students feel self-conscious or embarrassed about having a period in general and feel uneasy by using menstrual hygiene products at school, while others feel ashamed.
“It doesn’t need to be anything awkward,” Van Der Beek added. “It’s not only natural, but it’s healthy. It’s important and it’s unavoidable.”
“So any awkwardness around it, just recognize it’s probably learned and it can definitely be unlearned — because any awkwardness and stigma does not serve the young women in this country who are going through it.”
Period poverty can also negatively impact one’s health by causing urinary tract infections and reproductive health issues, while the shame surrounding menstruation can take a toll on the mental health of young women and girls.
In this country, right now, 1 in 5 girls are missing school and extracurricular activities they love because they lack access to period products. This is not okay. And pretending this problem doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it any better. That’s why I’ve #partnered with @always_brand and @walmart on their mission to raise awareness and #EndPeriodPoverty. Here’s how it works: Watch the video in the link in my bio about these incredible, inspiring girls, and for every view during the month of January, a pad donation will be made up to ONE MILLION pads to keep girls in the activities they love! On top of that, for every comment or share of this post, they’ll donate a month’s supply of pads to girls in need, up to an additional HALF A MILLION pads! So let’s get talking about this - because it’s not just about pads, it’s about bringing attention to this issue and chipping away at the stigma around something that is natural, healthy, necessary and unavoidable. Time to normalize what’s normal!
“Period poverty is happening in our own communities, and the effects are far-reaching,” Van Der Beek said in a statement. “No child should have to miss out on crucial childhood activities because they don't have access to period products.”
As part of their #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, Always will donate 1.5 million pads to those in need. You can learn more about the program at Walmart.com/Always.