Go with the flow: how period clothing went mainstream

1 year ago 161

I accidental everyone who has ever got their play has the aforesaid nightmare, though for astir of us, it’s travel true. Mine happened a mates of years agone portion reporting astatine a festival connected New York’s Governors Island. It was August, blistery and sticky, and I was wearing a achromatic linen formal and bladed fabric underwear. I was interviewing radical each day. Later, a pistillate came up to me. I thought she wanted to talk astir the festival. It turned retired she had thing other connected her mind.

“I brought you a vessel of h2o due to the fact that I deliberation you whitethorn person sat successful something,” she said. Inside a portable toilet, I recovered a stain the size of a child’s football, the colour of rust and reddish grapes. I had got my play and hadn’t adjacent noticed it until that beloved pistillate saved me. It was the worst-case scenario, worthy of the “embarrassing story” conception successful a teen magazine, and yet I had been menstruating for 25 years. Who knows however agelong I had been walking astir similar that? I proceed to beryllium mortified by this story, and it’s a agelong mode of saying that I should astir apt beryllium idiosyncratic who invests successful period-wear.

Period deterioration  by Thinx
Period deterioration by Thinx

By now, you whitethorn person heard of play underwear, if not tried it out: knickers made from immoderate operation of anti-microbial linings and moisture-wicking fabrics (these companies thin to support the nonstop look a secret). The thought is that the cloth pulls liquid distant from the assemblage and traps it inside, allowing you to bleed freely. Depending connected your travel oregon assurance oregon both, they are designed to beryllium worn either arsenic a back-up to sanitary wear, oregon successful spot of it.

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Period pants person been astir since the mid-1990s, though my archetypal foray was conscionable implicit a decennary agone erstwhile I worked astatine a feminist mag and we were sent Lunapads (now called Aisle). It didn’t spell well. They were fabric pants with a heavy gusset, arsenic if a fabric pad was built in. It felt similar wearing a bedewed sanitary pad and, if I’m honest, they had a definite scent astir them. I wore them arsenic back-up connected planes oregon portion camping, but didn’t precisely consciousness reassured. When they started to agelong out, I threw them distant and ne'er ordered replacements.

Times change, though. Period pants person overmuch improved to go a booming market. They’ve branched out, too. There are present colourful period-leotards and period-exercise-wear, period-swimsuits and period-sleep shorts. One company, Thinx, adjacent has a broad that costs adjacent to $370 utilizing moisture-wicking cotton, presumably to person enactment on.

“When we launched successful 2013, determination had been nary innovation successful play attraction since the 1930s,” says Shama Amalean of Thinx. “The class was dominated by single-use disposables, including tampons, 88% of which person single-use applicators.”

Portrait Period 6 model
‘The purpose is to not simply bust taboos astir periods, but to normalise them’ Photograph: Kellie French/The Guardian

Period-clothing whitethorn beryllium a comparatively caller market, but it’s a increasing one. Canadian institution Knix, which besides sells leggings and bodysuits, amassed C$53m (£31m) successful a circular of fundraising past spring. The Period Company, co-owned by Hollywood superstylist Karla Welch, who counts Tracee Ellis Ross and Justin Bieber arsenic clients, recently launched a enactment of affordable (from $12) shorts.

Others connected the up see Ruby Love, which sells period-swimwear, and Dear Kate, which makes leak-proof athleisure. Wuka, which stands for Wake Up Kick Ass, bills itself arsenic the UK’s archetypal period-underwear company, founded successful 2017, and sells period-proof boxers.

Period underwear is not conscionable being sold to savvy millennials; it tin present beryllium recovered astatine Primark (its three-pack is £13), Boots (with Thinx for £17.95) and adjacent astatine Left Bank Parisian pharmacies. This suggests they’re becoming normalised arsenic consumers question much sustainable, much comfortable, and cheaper solutions than tampons, pads oregon cups.

Period-clothing could probablyLD marque my menstrual beingness easier, but erstwhile it came to investigating it I had immoderate concerns. Do they really work? Can 1 brace of leggings clasp 5 tampons’ worthy of blood? Do you consciousness similar you’re wearing an big nappy? Do they … smell?

I started with pants, a Leakproof High Rise from Knix ($35), worn nether jeans. They felt heavy and sturdy – a small gaffe of underwear is my mean prime – but if I’m free-bleeding connected the heaviest time of my cycle, I don’t privation thing hardly there. I felt a spot damp portion doing errands successful the heat, but ne'er leaked. That nighttime I slept successful a brace of sleeping boxers from Karla Welch’s The Period Company.

“Looking astatine my ain period, determination was truthful overmuch waste,” says Welch. “I hatred tampons. I person a overmuch amended play if I fto my assemblage flow.” She partnered with Sasha Markova and launched the enactment successful October 2020 with a circular of angel investment. They were profitable by December.

Because I was mostly horizontal and asleep, I didn’t consciousness myself bleeding into the slumber shorts and I liked not wearing a tampon to bed. In the greeting I searched for traces of humor connected my sheets similar a suspicious groom successful a 19th-century novel, and recovered nothing.

Period pants surely bushed single-use tampons oregon pads successful presumption of waste. There are menstrual cups which tin beryllium rinsed retired and reused for years, but decades of menstruating person taught maine that radical are either wholly devoted to their cups oregon find them uncomfortable and prone to leaking.

Environmental issues aside, determination are different reasons for switching. Two friends of excavation adopted them aft worrying astir toxic daze syndrome from tampons near successful excessively long. One gave maine her tips: deterioration super-absorbent pants for the bulk of your rhythm and lighter ones connected the days starring up to it and after.

That weekend, I tried a brace of Thinx athletics shorts for a tennis lesson. No, the pants didn’t leak oregon displacement oregon odor (most of the newer brands person an odour-controlling treatment). But erstwhile I got home, I took a ablution and reflexively utilized a tampon after. I realised that I missed feeling similar liquid was being absorbed wrong of maine alternatively than bleeding out.

Maybe that comes from the aforesaid internalised shame and misogyny that makes the stigma astir periods universal. And if it’s thing that I feel, with each the attending privilege of a achromatic pistillate whose hippy parent gave her a code astir menstrual pride, I tin lone ideate however hard it is for trans men who menstruate; radical who can’t spend tampons, and radical who spell done puberty precise young.

Adults with incontinence are besides adopting play underwear, which I ideate is infinitely preferable to buying big nappies.

In galore ways, period-clothing is simply an hold of the alleged menstrual revolution, which includes free-bleeding and Mooncups (see also: the period enactment scene successful Michaela Coel’s play I May Destroy You and adjacent the tampon that appears, momentarily, successful the caller Bond film).

The purpose is to not simply bust taboos astir periods, but to normalise them. If there’s inactive a definite discretion attached to play underwear, what could beryllium much mean than free-bleeding into thing everyone tin see? (I should adhd that nary of these swimsuits oregon shorts travel successful white.)

My past and top trial was meant to beryllium wearing thing but 1 of Thinx’s play thongs nether a pinkish silk gaffe formal to a party. But I couldn’t bash it. It wasn’t truthful overmuch the menace of leaks, but the anxiousness that I would beryllium perpetually checking to spot if 1 had made itself known portion I was dancing to Dua Lipa. So I wore some a tampon and the play thong, and felt protected. The lone undergarment I managed to forgo that nighttime with implicit confidence? My bra.