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    Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch Opens Up About Quarantine Anxiety & Birth Control

    When
    I ask her how she’s been faring during the worldwide pandemic, Riverdale star
    Madelaine Petsch bursts out laughing.

    “I’m
    not great,” Petsch admits as her chuckles fade. “I’m doing my best
    with the tools that I’ve been given. I’m doing therapy and I’m trying my best
    to meditate every day and focus on my mental health.
    But like everyone, I feel like in quarantine… it’s dwindling. So I’m doing my
    best.”

    She’s
    in Los Angeles right now, away from her family. Thankfully, she tells me, she’s
    not alone. “My best friend lives with me and if I didn’t have her, I don’t
    know what I would do,” she says. “She is like my savior.” The
    pair of besties has what Petsch calls “an open dialogue.” “If
    either of us are feeling depressed or anxious or anything like that, we just
    talk about it,” she says. “And that really helps that I have
    that.”

    It soon becomes clear that Petsch is a big believer in
    having an open dialogue about everything. Like, say, her first visit to
    the gynecologist.

    “I
    was like, weird and ashamed to talk about my vagina,” she says. “I
    felt so weird talking about that body part, but I’m sure if they were talking
    to me about my foot, I would have felt normal talking about it. It was this
    weird kind of like stigma and awkwardness, that maybe just comes along with
    being a teenager or maybe comes along with societal constructs… Back then it
    was so scary.”

    Okay,
    okay — Petsch didn’t just start spontaneously talking about the OB/GYN.
    She recently partnered with with AbbVie to promote ‘Are You in the Lo?’, a
    campaign that aims to empower women to be knowledgeable about their options for
    preventing pregnancy.

    “It’s
    incredibly important to me to make this not a taboo conversation topic,” Petsch
    says. Despite her discomfort at the gynecologist, she describes her first
    experiences with birth control and sex ed as positive, something
    she attributes to her open-minded family. “I had a family where no
    conversation topic was off the table. I was lucky enough to have a mom who did
    the research for me and provided me with materials.”

    Unlike
    her character on Riverdale, Petsch had an extremely close relationship
    with her mom — a person so warm that she even acted as a “surrogate
    mother” to a lot of her friends growing up, according to the actor.
    “They would come over if they had any questions,” she says. “I
    remember my friends used to take pregnancy tests at my house when we were
    younger… like all of that stuff. My mom took care of all of it.”

    She
    says her mother’s attitude made all the difference when it came to her earliest
    relationships. “I was able to take my time and feel comfortable in my
    decisions at the time that I made them,” she said. “And then I looked
    at my friends who didn’t have that and were so curious about it and had no
    information that they ended up regretting some of the decisions that they
    made.”

    Her
    experiences growing up highlight how essential just talking — to your
    kids, to your friends — about sexual health can be. Education is
    empowering; knowing about all the options for something like birth control
    allows you to feel more confident about making a decision that impacts your
    body and your life. “It’s their body and it’s their choice, and they
    should be able to have the tools and the knowledge to make educated decisions
    about what they’re doing with their body,” Petsch says.

    When
    I admire Petsch’s openness — she chats as easily about anxiety during COVID and her first gynecologist’s
    visit as I do about the weather — we end up circling back around to the
    importance of talking about tough topics as a way to de-stigmatize them.

    “I’m
    not saying that I am the person to be the barrier breaker,” she
    says. “However, I think that these kinds of conversations start the
    barrier being broken.”

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