With vaginas and labia taking center stage at New York Fashion Week this year, reproductive and sexual health is having a major fashion moment. Aside from the destigmatizing effects of wearing your body politics on your sleeve (or shirt), some companies go the extra mile to make sure that their products are actually making a difference. By supporting companies and organizations that strive to educate the public about menstrual equity while providing menstrual products to the people who need them, you can help tear down the menstrual taboo — one pad at a time.
In a perfect world, every person would have the necessary resources to manage their period in a healthy and hygienic manner — but unfortunately, for many people around the world, that’s not the case. Enter Adrienne and Andrew McDermott’s charity fashion line, The Robe Lives, that donates 100 percent of it’s profits to The Cup Foundation.
The hope is that the bright statement robes will act as conversation-starters, allowing for people to get educated on the topic of menstrual equity. In particular, prompting more of a conversation about the fact that adolescent girls in Kenya miss an average of 4.9 days of school every month because of their periods and 1 in 10 African girls skipping school during menstruation and some girls even dropping out entirely due to a lack of access to menstrual products according to UNICEF.
While visiting Uganda in 2012, Diana Sierra was surprised by how many adolescent girls dropped out of school due to an inability to effectively manage their period. Thus, Be Girl Panties were born.
The Be Girl period panty functions as both a panty and a menstrual pad. Designed with mesh pockets to hold reusable inserts or other absorbent material such as toilet paper, the panties reduce waste and don’t expose users to unnecessary chemicals and perfumes. The panties created a sustainable, culturally relevant solution for girls in Uganda because the product adheres to cultural norms, works for their body types and utilizes resources they already have access to.
Conscious Period, an organic cotton tampon company, was started by Annie Lascoe and Margo Lang, both of whom were fed up with the lack of ingredient transparency in the menstrual product industry and with the designation of menstrual products as “luxury items.” In addition to making healthy period products more accessible to all, Conscious Period has collaborated with Faircloth & Supply to create the This Is Not a Luxury” tee. The partnership brings the tampon company together with an organization that provides school uniforms to girls in Nepal.
One of the worst parts of getting your period in the middle of a vacation is not being able to go swimming without worrying about your menstrual product leaking. Crystal Etienne spent years testing various prototypes and tweaking her designs in order to create swimsuits that could collect menstrual flow with or without the help of a menstrual product. PantyProp sells a variety of styles of swimsuit bottom and one-pieces, helping all women to feel comfortable and confident while on their periods.
British jewelry designer Lili Murphy-Johnson challenges the taboo that surrounds menstruation by bringing the controversy to the forefront of conversations. Her line of period-inspired jewelry features blood-red jewels, pad-shaped gold rings and golden tampon trinkets that are sure to get people talking.
Swedish designer Katarina Hornwall has created a necklace pendant to discretely carry an extra tampon on your person at all times. Made of solid aluminum, the chic tampon-shaped pendant opens to reveal a secret compartment for storing an extra product. The minimalist look of the necklace turns a menstrual product carrier into a gender-neutral, high-fashion accessory.
Last year, Johanna and Brittany Cosgrove launched Nope Sisters, a New Zealand-based social enterprise that creates embroidered tees with a simple but strong message. Their first design was the MastectoTee, which featured breast cancer scars inspired by their own mother’s surgery. Profits from the design were donated to a local breast cancer survivor group. Their second design, the NOPE tee empowers wearers to speak out against sexual harassment and assault. Proceeds from this design were passed on to Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation.
The Cosgrove sisters’ newest design, the Period. shirt, is a direct response to the unaffordability of period products. Many students miss out on their education due to a lack of access to menstrual products, so the Cosgrove sisters have teamed up with another local social enterprise that provides subsidized menstrual cups to New Zealand students.
The Swedish high-street fashion brand Monki is partnering with Lunette to create standout pink menstrual cups that come in a silk drawstring bag with the words “Periods are cool. Period.” printed across it. Monki’s eight-piece fashion collection also includes decorative pins and custom “Periods are cool.” underwear to continue to spread the period positivity.
The company had pledged to donate 5,000 menstrual cups to The Cup Foundation, an organization that seeks to educate and empower girls living in challenging environments in Kenya by giving them life skills, training and access to menstrual cups.
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