Periods are a thing that millions of women around the world are dealing with every day. But they’re also something that’s slightly taboo. Why are so many of us still totally squeamish about that time of the month? That’s something that Miki Agrawal wants to change.
Miki, 36, is the CEO and founder of THINX, a company that aims to “[reimagine] feminine hygiene products to provide support, comfort, confidence, and peace of mind” in order to “eliminate shame, empowering women and girls around the world,” according to the company website.
How will they do this? With leak resistant, anti-microbial panties that will hold up to two tampons’ worth of blood all while keeping the wearer feeling dry. In other words, panties that double as pads. While their usage is intended as backup, some use the underwear as a replacement for what women would normally wear (depending on their flow). They even have varying levels of absorption–you wear a thong on your light days, cheekies on your medium days, and hiphuggers on your heavy days. Oh, and they’re super cute.
But wait. Though these panties sound pretty brilliant, how will this change our menstruation conversation? “Women in our culture don’t want to talk about their periods — most still think about it as crass and disgusting,” Miki, who was on Forbes’ list of Top 20 Millennials On A Mission in 2013, told the magazine. “I want to change the culture around women’s most normal time of month — and not while wearing grandma panties or pads that feel like a diaper.”
“Women are afraid to touch themselves, or that they will get blood under their fingernails,” Miki told Forbes. There is so much shame around periods that in the developing world, women and girls are forced to miss school and work when they’re having them.
According to Water Aid, 95 percent of girls in Ghana sometimes miss school due to menstruation, and “86 percent and 53 percent of girls in Garissa and Nairobi (respectively) in Kenya miss a day or more of school every two months. In Ethiopia, 51 percent of girls miss between one and four days of school per month because of menses and 39 percent reported reduced performance.” That’s why for every pair of underwear sold, THINX will be donating money to AFRIPads, an organization that trains women in developing countries to make affordable, reusable pads.
Using these period-friendly panties will also reduce landfill waste created by feminine hygiene products. The number varies, of course, but some rough math puts the approximate number of tampons or pads a woman will use in her lifetime at 11,000. Yeesh. . . that’s a lot.
Oh, and about the whole money aspect: each pair costs from $24 to $34. That might sound like a lot for a pair of underwear, but considering that tampons or pads cost a woman approximately $120 a year, and the panties would last a couple years, they pretty much pay for themselves.
Though the panties are designed by women in New York City, they are made by women in Sri Lanka “at a family-run factory that has an outstanding commitment to providing supplementary education and training to its female employees, empowering them to become leaders in their communities,” according to the website.
“Tampons were invented in 1931,” Miki told Forbes, “and aside from adhesive strips and wings on pads, there hasn’t been any major innovation in 85 years. It’s time to change that — and to change the taboo.”
Celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day, which was on May 28th, a little bit late by buying yourself a few pairs of these bad boys. We certainly will be. Thanks, THINX, for starting a menstruation conversation!