Amy Schumer has been #momgoals with us since well before her son, Gene, was actually born. Her pregnancy photos were so damn relatable, and included so much puke, we couldn’t help but laugh and cry right along with her. And as a fellow hyperemesis gravidarum mama, I have to admit I related so much more to Schumer’s honest photos hooked up to the IV and looking miserable than I did, say, Kate Middleton making it through nine months of hyperemesis with seemingly no hair out of place. But I digress.
But Schumer’s not just a hyperemesis / IVF / motherhood in general warrior; she’s also a passionate advocate for birth equity, period education, and more. These days, in addition to launching her stealth-filmed pregnancy documentary, Expecting Amy, she’s also teaming up with Tampax to make educational videos that are seriously funny to boot. Because, as Schumer and I have both learned far too recently, there are so many holes (like, serious black holes of misinformation, not like urethra/vagina/anus holes, although those are so much more important) in sex education in this country. And it’s up to us parents to change period stigma and more for our kids’ generation.
I got together with Schumer on Zoom this week, as we all do for pandemic hang times these days, to talk about parenting, periods, puke, privilege, and more. Oh, and I was particularly impressed with the room she Zoomed from, which had pine paneled walls and appeared to be some sort of rustic ski chalet in the mountains — to my travel-starved eyes, at least.
SheKnows: Wow, you look like you’re in some kind of chalet?
Amy Schumer: Oh my god thank you! I’m in the basement.
SK: Ohh, I knew it was either that or Vermont.
AS: Wow, I love that idea for myself.
SK: I’m so excited that you’re doing this partnership about period education, because it’s not, like, you’re just promoting pasta sauce.
AS: Well, it kind of is! Ha, no. But thank you so much, that’s how I feel too. It felt so natural to me I was like wait, do I already have a partnership with Tampax? It feels too normal. We both want to educate women and take the shame out of having your period. It really enrages me that we’re still supposed to be, like, embarrassed about it. There are just so many myths and misinformation out there. They informed me about a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, like sex education is only required in 29 states!
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We’re SUPER excited to let you all in on our partnership with @amyschumer! We thought a lot about whether or not we kick things off now and pressed pause many times to focus on the urgent needs and concerns people around the world are facing. But ultimately we decided that because periods aren’t stopping, neither should we. With the help of a bit of humor we're on a mission to make period conversation as normal as periods so we can help people with periods feel educated and empowered every day of the month. If you can laugh about it, you can talk about it, right? It’s #TimeToTampax
SK: They sent over facts to me, and I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. 77% of women think a tampon can just get lost up in there?!
AS: Right? Like where do you think it’s gonna go? I know, it’s pretty upsetting to me and actually as we were writing the commercials together, we made sure to hire some women of color, some comedians I’m friends with, and I learned how many cultural differences there are. Even some of my friends were like, “Oh no, Tampons are for white girls.” And I was like “What?!”… There are a lot of different feelings about tampons culturally. And it’s like, no, we all get our periods and I’m so sick of it being something you’re so ashamed of.
SK: It’s a failure of education in this country, not of the people.
AS: People aren’t ignoring the information they’re being handed. That’s why Tampax.com is so great, you can go there and get all the info. I made a few videos with them — that I think are pretty funny, because I’m always trying to sneak like broccoli in the pancakes, because nobody’s like “Oh, a period educational video? Let me click on it.” So hopefully more people will see it this way. But then, I dunno if you saw that documentary about the women in India making their own pads? Tampax approached me right after that, and I was like let’s do this.
SK: Do you remember being uneducated about this stuff, having an uncomfortable experience or feeling shame?
AS: I got my period early, like I was one of those fifth graders. I lost my two front teeth in fifth grade, so you’ll get a little understanding of how I wound up being a comedian, so I had my period and no teeth. It was not good. My body was so confused…it was real rough. I remember I watched an episode of 90210 and I think I asked my mom, “Can you have sex with your clothes on?” And my mom turned off the TV — I remember this very clearly — and then turned to me and…ruined my life. She would also be like “Oh my god, I’m bleeding so much,” like she would let you know, and I felt that was a very feminist part of her. No bra, and she was furious that she got her period. But she was a pad wearer.
SK: She was an O.G.
AS: She was O.G. The bush, the pad, until I was like, “Can you get me some Tampax? This is not fun, and I want to go in the pool.”
SK: Do you have a plan for how you’re going to talk to your son about bodies? I was talking to my preschooler way earlier than I thought, because he’d just be there in the bathroom like, ‘Mom why are you bleeding’?
AS: Well right now, he just started having tantrums —
SK: Ohhh for a sec thought you were saying he just started having tampons. I mean, they’re a good toy!
AS: Oh yeah. He has absolutely picked up a wrapped up Tampax and I’m like nononono — but I really want to raise such a good feminist and I’m sure I’m going to be talking to him early about it, but right now I’m just trying to like, make sure he doesn’t fall down our two stairs.
SK: Your post this week about Black women dying in childbirth in New York was so important and upsetting. Did you think about your privilege during your own childbirth experience in NYC?
AS: I thought about my privilege a lot. Because I had hyperemesis, and—
SK: I did too!
AS: YOU DID?!
SK: When you lose weight from throwing up and everyone says you look great and you’re like, I feel like 100% death.
AS: You’re like “fuck you.” Yes. So I had to get an IV like, most days. So I thought about privilege a lot then because you know, one in three babies die when the women have hyperemesis. And I think that’s straight up because of privilege. If you can have a tube in you, you have a chance. And if not… I thought about my privilege a lot. Every time I was in the hospital, every time I was getting an IV. I thought, What are women doing who cant do this? And the answer is, their baby’s probably dying. Women aren’t listened to in medical situations anyway, so when I learned about the struggles of women of color, just like, some women I’m friends with and their stories, or the stories of their cousins — that’s when I left the situation being like, I really want to do everything I can. So I’ve got some projects happening that are completely to benefit and to educate about women of color’s treatment in the medical environment. But it’s the saddest thing I think I’ve ever heard in my life.
SK: And that’s another thing we have to talk to our kids about so early: racism.
AS: Well, Gene is 14 months and hasn’t said one word yet, but all of his books are like, little Rosa Parks!
SK: Yes! What’s his favorite book?
AS: His absolute favorite book is this book called Get Up Stand Up which is based on, obviously, the Bob Marley lyrics. He’s just crazy about it. Well, also, what’s that Richard Scarry book…
SK: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? The endless one?
AS: The endless one. We have to keep buying different versions of it because he rips all the pages out so much because he loves it so much. He wants to read by himself! Magazines and newspapers, I’m not kidding. He just sits there.
SK: What a guy.
AS: Hey, did you have more than one baby?
SK: No, I just have the one.
AS: Oh okay, I wanted to know if you got hyperemesis again.
SK: My next pregnancy, I will find you and report back. You report back too, please.
AS: Okay, deal.
Schumer has mentioned looking into a surrogate for her next baby; here are some other celebs who welcomed their kids via surrogate.