#MAKEITHAPPENMenstrual Health Advocates Ashley Greene Khoury, Olivia Khoury & Melissa Berton
ON MENSTRUAL EQUALITY
Ashley Greene Khoury: Because everyone deserves to go through their lives with dignity and equal rights. No one's life should be interrupted or have opportunities suppressed by their menstrual cycle. I believe we all have the right to affordable, accessible products and reproductive health education alongside it. I find it insane that our periods are the key factor in the creation of life, yet have become a burden for so many.
Olivia Khoury: I found this quote on the internet a while back and I think it sums up my feelings perfectly: “Menstrual equality is about ending the stigma around periods that has prevented not only decision-makers, but also healthcare providers, educators and individuals, from ensuring that menstrual health is a priority.”
Melissa Berton: As a high school teacher, I have the privilege, every day, of walking into a classroom and witnessing the simultaneous beauty of my students' physical growth into womanhood along with the intellectual growth that helps them discover the kind of women they will become. I believe it is at this tender and transitional moment that education must be nurtured and never, ever stopped.
AGK: That they are beautiful and powerful and should never feel ashamed of their periods but empowered by the magic they possess.
OK: Sharing your story is the first step in reclaiming your health!
MB: Your body is miraculous. Menstruation is not a source of shame, but a signal of strength.
“Everyone deserves to go through their lives with dignity and equal rights.” — Ashley
AGK: How important it is that everyone has access to period hygiene products, especially girls in low-income communities. Also that one person can make a big difference and that there are multiple avenues in which a person can do that.
OK: No matter how big or small your mission or community is, one person can make a difference.
MB: At The Pad Project we love to learn about the latest, greatest menstrual health and wellness products, like Hummingway’s powerful Cycle Soother. On a more personal note, on the day of the VB shoot, I learned how to strike a pose from Ashley, and a new dance move from Olivia!
AGK: I want to be the best possible version of myself and inspire others to do the same. I want to leave the world a better place than when I entered into it, no matter how big or small of an impact I have. I hope that one day my journey will inspire others to reach for their dreams, make their impact, and change the world one small piece at a time.
OK: I found my passion in reproductive health because I saw an obvious need and demand for women and people who menstruate to have access to education about their bodies as well as products that focus on long-term health benefits.
MB: A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.
AGK: It means continuing on the path to your goals, even when things get tough. It means looking at the “impossible” and finding ways to succeed despite the daunting barriers. I've learned to appreciate the small wins—making the little things happen each day eventually amounts to larger success. It also means being a team player, helping others even if it doesn’t necessarily directly benefit me—there is always a bigger picture.
OK: It means that you can be the hero of your own story.
MB: For me, the “it” to “make happen” is putting an end to menstrual stigma and period poverty worldwide. Menstrual rights are human rights.
AGK: The Hummingway community. We get to see firsthand the positive impact we’re making on so many peoples lives—that really keeps us going. My parents and my husband inspire me as well. They see the best version of me, and I work hard every day to live up to that.
OK: All the incredible women and people in the Hummingway community who share their stories with us and all the like-minded partners, like The Pad Project, who give us even more opportunities to make a difference.
MB: My daughter and my high school students, who make me braver than I am.
“Constantly told that my experience was typical of being a woman, I decided to call bullshit and go on my own journey of understanding my body.” — Olivia
AGK: LISTS in order of priority are a lifesaver for me, but it's equally as important to recognize and accept that I will not finish that list in one sitting. The world will not end if there is something left at the bottom of the list. Setting boundaries has allowed me to work more efficiently and improved my quality of life.
OK: Stay present and problem solve.
MB: A dog, a laptop, Goody hair ties.
AGK: Sleep, fuel (food), and focus.
OK: Passion, perseverance, and patience.
MB: Pluck, luck, and love.
AGK: First and foremost, WATER. It's my answer to everything. Tired, bloated, hungry, skin issues, headache? My first instinct is to reach for the water. After that, sleep, physical activity, and quality nutrients are key. Nothing new or exciting, but they’re my go-to.
OK: Checking in with my body through stretching, dry brushing, and CBD baths. Dunking my face in an ice bowl every morning—you instantly look snatched. Hiking with my dog Lucy. Dancing with friends. Eating a tablespoon of sea moss a day if you want to glow forever; you can also put it on your face. And boxing—especially for my PMDD [pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder].
MB: A walk in nature, homemade food, a hot bath.
AGK: I’ve been through a lot of tough times and a lot of ups and downs, but I think one of the biggest adversities that I faced came from inside. At one point in my life, my self-esteem and self-worth plummeted and I was on a self-destructive path. Mentally I was just tearing myself down and I was very unhappy. Finally I said “enough” and made the decision that this wasn’t the way my life would shape out, that I deserved better and the people around me deserved better. I made a commitment to myself then and there and have completely transformed my outlook, how I speak to myself, and what I expect of myself. Life still throws curveballs, but now, I’m more than ready to take a swing.
OK: Four years ago I was diagnosed with PMDD after over a decade of feeling like I had no control over my body or my mood. Constantly told that my experience was typical of being a woman, I decided to call bullshit and go on my own journey of understanding my body. I have now found ways, through food, diet, exercise and cycle mapping, to manage this diagnosis and rebalance my body holistically.
MB: Two weeks before the Oscar ceremony [for Period. End of Sentence.], an anonymous and self-proclaimed “longstanding member of the Director’s Branch of the Academy” declared in The Hollywood Reporter that neither he nor any of his male friends would vote for our film to win an Oscar because periods were just “too icky.” Well. We showed him.
“Your body is miraculous. Menstruation is not a source of shame, but a signal of strength.” — Melissa
AGK: My first acting coach George (back in Jacksonville) made me fall in love with acting. His warmth and his passion for the craft is something I will never forget.
OK: My mom, who is also a huge inspiration for Hummingway, taught Ashley and I that we have the power to heal ourselves.
MB: In college, I ventured into an English course that was outside my major and fell in love with poetry and the professor. Thirty years later, I remain married to that professor and am, myself, an English teacher.
AGK: Become familiar with failure, learn from it, pivot and continue on your path to success. Perseverance is a necessity.
OK: Have compassion for yourself.
MB: Stay strong, stay open, stay away from the naysayers.