Modibodi recently conducted a customer service survey, so we could better understand our customers, what products they are seeking and how we can better improve our garments. One thing became alarmingly clear, that as women we are still afraid to openly discuss issues surrounding menstruation, bladder leaks, menopause or any female topics. Modibodi Founder, Kristy has frequently spoken about her personal commitment, and Modibodi’s dedication to ending the stigma around a normal part of a female’s life, menstruation.
So the question is what is it going to take to end the bloody stigma and shame about periods.
Earlier this year there was another Ted Talk on menstruation, the eighth for the year. This talk highlighted the fact that the lack of education and belief that menstruation is a bad thing, is in fact hindering our global development.
- According to UNICEF, 83 percent of girls in Burkina Faso and 77 percent in Nigeria have no place at school to change their sanitary menstrual materials
- In Ethiopia, an estimated 50 percent of girls miss one to four days of school every month on account of their periods
- According to Unesco, an estimated 10 percent of African girls will quit school because of difficulties associated with menstruation
- Of the 355 million reproductive-age women in India, only 12 percent use absorbent pads or other sanitary methods to stem the blood flow during their periods
Ted Talks are a highly esteemed platform that discuss issues or highlight important areas about life. If there are 8 or more Ted Talks on menstruation and the issue around menstrual taboo significantly hindering women, then surely this is a cause for us to change the way we think about periods. On a positive note, we at least have a community of people willing to engage in conversation and debate surrounding these issues at a global level, and we can only hope this is the start of change.
If you type ‘menstrual taboos’ into Google you're bombarded with articles and opinion essays on why the period stigma should end and what we can all do to end it. It seems as though everyone on the internet is more than willing to have a conversation about periods. But to truly make change we need to start with addressing a few societal inequalities.
Such as the tax on feminine hygiene products, let’s end it, and the lack of education that still exists as seen in a recent article where a young boy believed menstruation was the same as peeing, and that women should be able to just ‘hold’ the blood in until they reached a toilet. We really need more open discussion, more education and fairer laws if we are ever going to significantly reduce menstrual stigma and misunderstandings.
Modibodi is attempting to revolutionise the way women manage their periods and incontinence, we are always pushing for progress and the breaking down of barriers in relation to these issues and always encouraging other brands to do the same. We want to encourage all women to take a stand and talk openly, it is tough exposing yourself and sharing your stories, but it is also liberating.
At Modibodi we applaud movements like Sustainable Cycles which has seen women take to the road to promote the use of sustainable and reusable feminine hygiene products instead of disposables (Just like us here at Modibodi!) A recent article in Autostraddle saw one of the organisation founders riding her bike with a blood stain on her bike shorts. Similarly, the runner Kiran Gandhi ran her marathon on her period with no tampon, and allowed her blood to just flow. While this shocked some, it also reminded people that this is a natural bodily function, something that women have every day without anyone knowing. Amazingly, Kiran didn't run her marathon with the intention of free bleeding, her period arrived and took her by surprise right before the race began. As she was about to give up and not run, she thought, why should I? She had trained hard for this race, and why should a natural bodily function that some deem “embarrassing” get in the way of her finishing.
Women and organisations like the above, garner attention through the ‘shock factor’ but it actually draws attention to the fact that women bleed, every month. We are so used to plugging up the issue with tampons, scurrying to the toilet with a product hidden in our hand, and talking to no one about our menstrual cycle because for too long society has told us, periods are gross, not normal, and dirty.
Fostering an environment where girls are able to openly and freely ask questions about their own bodies and sparking an open and honest conversation is the only way to ensure the menstrual stigma is finally eradicated.
We think it’s great that some groups and media like Sustainable Cycles and One Million Women are talking openly about menstruation, but until periods are mentioned by the female host on Morning TV in a positive way by the US President we will never achieve true change.
At Modibodi we embrace this challenge, and we will continue to drive more public discussion of periods to bring down social barriers. The more exposure and education it receives the less stigma we will attach and hopefully one day it will be understood as a normal part of life instead of a shameful experience to hate and hide.