THINX masters the Art of Period Proofing
April 3, 2016
In a quiet classroom, she sharply zips open her backpack, hoping that no one will notice. She grabs it and buries it in her hoodie’s pocket as she stumbles to the front of the classroom to ask for permission to use the restroom while keeping her eyes locked toward the floor, hoping any stains on the back of her pants do not generate any more attention than she already has.
In an age of Free The Nipple campaigning, unashamed praise for all body types and advancing education for women, periods can still be embarrassing. THINX, a New York based company that manufactures “period-proof” underwear in Sri Lanka, seeks to eliminate the cultural taboo surrounding menstruation by creating period-proof underwear that helps women feel comfortable during their time of the month. Their partnership with AFRIpads allows a pack of reusable pads to be given to a girl in Uganda for every pair of underwear sold.
“Everyone knows that at one point in a girl’s life, they’re gonna get their period but the way people react to it, if some people find out or something, they start freaking out,” freshman Gabriella Gonzalez said. “Some kids are not mature enough to understand what’s really happening and they’ll make jokes about it.”
THINX underwear keeps its users dry through moisture-wicking, an antimicrobial (bacteria-fighting) and leak-resistant absorption technology that acts as a built-in panty liner. Wearing either just THINX underwear or THINX with a tampon or pad depends on the discretion of each woman, depending on her individual cycle. THINX underwear is made to look like normal underwear, coming in a variety of styles to accommodate light to heavy levels of menstruation. Styles include boyshort, hi-waist, sport, hiphugger, cheeky and even thongs. THINX hiphuggers, for the heaviest days of menstruation, have the same capacity as two tampons.
With each pair of THINX underwear sold, THINX sends funds to their partner AFRIpads. AFRIpads teaches women to sew reusable sanitary pads with this income.
“I’m all for it,” freshman Sabrina Trinidad said. “I read this article about these girls who couldn’t go to school all this time and they had to sit on top of a cardboard box and I was like ‘Oh my god but what am I supposed to do about it?’ So this is really cool.”
A short film called “The Week”, made by THINX, explained the struggle of many menstruating women in developing nations who cannot afford sanitary protection. Girls sometimes miss up to a week of school when they are menstruating in order to avoid shame or embarrassment from others. They fall behind, after missing so much class time and, in many cases, drop out as a result. An economic crisis can follow for impoverished countries, given that half of their population will struggle to provide for themselves or their families for the rest of their lives. According to The Girl Effect, a study by Nike, a woman’s income is reinvested back into her community 55 to 70 percent more than the income of a man.
These women could struggle to provide for themselves without an education, but the jobs provided by AFRIpads gives them economic stability and the pads allow them to continue attending school to pursue a stable lifestyle. Cost-effective reusable pads also reduce the carbon footprint created by paper-based pads and tampons headed for landfills (which can add up to 17,000 products per woman in her lifetime according to THINX).
“As the girls are able to become more educated, they become exposed to different opportunities in life. They become more independent women,” senior Michael Choi said.
THINX encourages an open dialogue about menstruation through social media campaigns and their CEO ( referred to as a “she-e-o”) Miki Agrawal’s bold criticism of period shaming.
“Some girls will feel embarrassed by it because some people think like it’s unsanitary or you don’t know how to take care of your body like know what’s happening,” sophomore Valerie Stegman said.
Stegman says she has experienced the familiar embarrassment that comes with getting her period.
“I’ve stained my pants but I didn’t really realize until I got home,” Stegman said. “But when I got home I kind of felt embarrassed but not that much. I was just like well ‘It’s a normal thing. It’s a bodily function.”