By Mia Abrahams
I would say there’s no better place to get all of the latest in period news and menstrual updates than the THINX Slack channel, but since you guys don’t have access to that (yet... let me see what I can do), I’m giving you a rundown of what’s been happening in the world of periods.
A Teacher Making Periods Easier In Her Classroom
If you’re a person who went to school, you probably remember at least one moment when someone was surprised by their period in the middle of class. And so, you probably remember them (or you) being *mortified* by the experience — that period shame runs deep! So, we were thrilled to hear one Detroit teacher, Kristin Heavner, taking it upon herself to make her students first periods just a little easier by putting together “menstruation care packs” filled with tampons, pads, and panty liners. As Kristin said in her Facebook post, “Sure, the office has pads for students, but once you've already figured out that there is an issue, the last thing you want to do is head to the office wait in line, ask for what you need, walk back to the bathroom, etc.” S/O to Ms. Heavner!
New Study Finds Half Of Girls Embarrassed By Their Periods
A new UK study, commissioned by girls’ rights charity Plan International, makes it clear that there is still a ton of stigma surrounding menstruation. More than a quarter of the girls surveyed don’t know what to do when they start their period, and nearly half are embarrassed by them. As if that isn’t troubling enough, the study also shows that missing school is a serious consequence of the period taboo — 49% of the 1,000 girls surveyed said they had missed an entire day of school because of their period, and 82% admitted to hiding their menstrual products (and I kinda feel like that number should be 100%, because who hasn’t walked around with a tampon up their sleeve at one point in their life?). Get this: Nearly 75% of the girls said they feel embarrassed even buying tampons. It’s funny (in a not-that-funny kinda way), because nobody feels awkward buying toilet paper, yet openly talking about bowel movements has yet to top the list of preferred dinner party convo. So why the shame with menstrual products? Unfortunately, this study shows that the period stigma makes a significant impact on the lives of young people.
Two Kashmiri Women Combatting Menstrual Taboos Through Entrepreneurship
Mir Musharraf, 18, and Mubeena Khan, 25, grew up in a Kashmiri orphanage. They bonded over their future goals, talking for hours, always dreaming of doing something that would help other women. The orphanage is located in Kupwara, an area of Kashmir where it is estimated that 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Mubeena always felt that the stigma around periods in her local community was strange—women are not allowed inside kitchens, they are not allowed to pray, they are considered “untouchables” while menstruating. Mir and Mubeena have conducted hundreds of awareness camps in schools and colleges about periods, and with an investment from Borderless World Foundation, they’ve set-up a cost-effective and environmentally sound pad manufacturing business in their hometown. Even better, they’re being recognized for their efforts: Their company, Happy Choice, won first prize in a business plan competition organized for entrepreneurs of the Kashmir valley (and first place in our hearts for its period-proud ethos).
Period Tracking Apps Might Be The Next Big Women’s Health Breakthrough
If you’re like one of the many bleeders in the THINX office who uses a period-tracking app, you may be helping your own flow *and* doing something good for science-at-large. The app Clue surpassed 5 million users last year (that’s a lotta periods, y’all), and it’s particularly interested in collaborating with the scientific community. If you think about it, with millions of women putting their period info in one place, it’s an amazing resource for scientists researching menstruation and women’s health! And because there has been so little research into menstruation, menstrual health, and period products, this info could do a lot to inform doctors and people with periods everywhere (yes pls!). Recently, Clue partnered with Dr. Alexandra Alvergne, a biological anthropologist at the University of Oxford, to perform two different studies. One is aimed at discovering whether STD symptoms might be linked to PMS (aka, whether having an STD diagnosis or treatment might make your PMS symptoms worse). The second is just as interesting, as it examines whether menstrual cycles might affect other areas of health, like immune systems and mental health (eg. could periods and menstrual cycle hormones affect asthma? Or diabetes? Or cancer treatments?). The results aren’t published yet, but we can’t wait to learn more!
Will Period Blood Finally Stop Being Blue (In Ads)?
Ugh, the dreaded blue liquid test. Has anyone ever leaked blue fluid?? Maybe Smurfette, but I’m betting even she is a fiery red bleeder. A big contributor to period stigmas is the branding and marketing of menstrual products. We’ve tried to combat this by breaking down the gender stereotypes in period advertising, acknowledging that not every person who gets their period identifies as a woman, and not pretend that people aren’t messy bleeding humans (cue daisy fields, white lace, and perfect smiles). But, historically, there has been a real disconnect between period marketing and actual period experiences. Needless to say, our entire team was thrilled to see that pad-maker Bodyform has used *shock-horror* actual red liquid to signify real blood in its latest ad, instead of that non-human blue liquid we’re used to seeing. The more we see periods as normal, the less stigma will be attached to them. And that’s good news for everyone.