Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Feminine Mystique

Marriage experts will tell you that one of the most powerful signs of commitment is the presence of trust in a relationship. While I agree that trust is an important concept, nothing demonstrates a deeper understanding of dedication than a man’s willingness to shop for feminine hygiene products without supervision.
As the primary Wal-Mart shopper in my marital relationship, I very often find myself alongside a gaggle of pre-menopausal women attempting to locate a box of tampons. Excluding the obvious embarrassment of purchasing such a product, I am convinced that the manufacturers of these items purposefully alter the package design every two months in order to confuse hapless shoppers like myself. On top of the packaging changes, that particular section represents more flow rates than a municipal fire hydrant system. To complicate matters further, most of the competing brands have different designations for each level of “menstrual intensity.”
·         Light (also known as “spotty” or “minor league menstruation”) – judging by the bar graph on the back of the boxes, this item is for people who require tampons only as a fashion accessory.
·         Moderate (also known as “normal”) – I assume that this is where you begin unless told otherwise.
·         Regular (also known as “standard”) – This is to satisfy your tampon needs while reminding you that you are nothing out of the ordinary.
·         Heavy (also known as “super” or “deluge”) – when you are ready to step up to the big leagues….
·         Ultra (also known as “anemic” or “Armageddon”) - these generally indicates a severe medical problem and are presumably made from recycled Brawny paper towel rolls.
Even with all that confusion, I would much rather shop for tampons than pads. Not only do pads cover all of the above flow rates, they also have confusing accessories. With wings, without wings, flex-weave technology, and micro-core fabrics are just of few of the enhancements available on a feminine liner. After you see the word “wings” so many times you begun to feel like a purchasing agent for Boeing.
The second most frustrating item to purchase for my wife would have to be lotion. Most men would scoff at such a statement, but they have not seen horrors that I have seen. Like tampons, there are several designations that do not translate across brands. You can identify by skin type such as normal, oily, sensitive, extra sensitive, and dry (my personal favorite). Once you have identified your skin type, you will want to select products by unique ingredient such as Shea Butter Extracts, Natural Oatmeal (I guess synthetic oatmeal has not yet caught on) and Activated Emollients.
I have also noticed a growing trend in this department.  Bottles are being prominently labeled with “Dermatologist Tested.” Although it sounds impressive, this statement simply assures the consumer that at least one dermatologist somewhere in the world was persuaded to apply this lotion to their hands on at least one occasion. Furthermore, such labeling does not actually claim that the dermatologist liked the product or felt that it was safe for use on humans. Using this logic, it would not be misleading to place stickers on bags of heroin that said “Physician Tested” since on at least one occasion a board certified general practitioner has used heroin.
The third and final most frustrating product to purchase for a member of the fairer sex is shampoo. As a male, I was generally only aware of two categories of hair care products: with or without dandruff control. Such simplicity is an unheard of luxury in the realm of women’s shampoo and conditioners where each individual must decide whether their hair is dry, coarse, fine, thin, full, thick, frizzy, color treated, wavy, or oily.
Once you have classified your hair, you must then decide whether or not you wish to combine your conditioner with the shampoo, or apply it separately. I personally cannot think of a more agonizing decision. I discovered, from purchasing the wrong type on a few occasions, that it would have been much more pleasant to show up at my house with a prostitute, than to try and explain why I had the audacity to purchase the Pantene Pro-V for fine hair instead of full & thick.

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