When we started selling period underwear and reusable pads back in 1993, we were living in a world where period products were purchased from a place called the "feminine hygiene" aisle at your local grocery store. Branding was highly gendered, and television commercials for pads used the infamous "blue liquid" to advertise their absorbency. The word "period" had only just been spoken for the first time on television in 1985, and the colour red was NEVER used in the context of period products - everything was sky blue and clinical white. Pads and tampons were scented "daisy fresh" to disguise the completely normal and healthy smell of a human vagina.
It was a world where periods were the kind of hush-hush taboo that no one spoke of in public. Many young people approached menarche with precious little accurate information about what was about to happen in their body and how to deal with it, and folks who didn't experience having a period knew even less about the process! It was typical of the time, to see folks on the internet warning "men" to close their eyes or navigate away, if periods were to be a topic of discussion - never mind the fact that some men do have periods, and all men should have at least a basic understanding of them.
This context was part of the genesis of our brand - our raison d'être - to change the social environment that periods existed in, so that people could better access information about their bodies and be able to properly care for themselves when they bleed. Thanks to all this stigma surrounding periods, when we first started out under our old brand name "Lunapads", the idea that one would want to wash and re-wear their period products was inconceivable to most people, a concept relegated to only the most eco-conscious crunchy types. It was our job to change all that.
It's been a long road, and many things have changed for the better in that time, but one thing that seems like it will never change, is the desire of far-right politicians to drag us back to the dark ages. Earlier this month, legislation was introduced in the Florida House that would, "not only prohibit instruction about menstruation to students not yet in sixth grade, but forbid any discussion whatsoever about periods during the school day." This comes just a month after the Florida High School Athletic Association tried to require that high school athletes answer a series of invasive questions about their period, on a required health form. You may wonder why the state of Florida has such a weird “thing” about periods, but efforts like these are part of a larger, nation-wide attempt to roll back reproductive rights and bodily-autonomy for half the population in the US. It's absolutely critical that young people receive timely information about puberty, periods and sex, and the sixth grade is too late for many who may start menstruating as early as eight years old. We know that knowledge is power, and when young people lack information about their bodies they are more susceptible to abuse.
This is why we will always fight back against regressive efforts to force periods back into the dark, and will continue to normalize period talk wherever we can. Part of the reason we rebranded as Aisle in 2020, was the idea that we wanted to leave behind the euphemistic "feminine hygiene aisle" and reimagine the "period aisle" as a welcoming space for all people to purchase period products and learn about periods, free from taboos, euphemisms, shame and judgment. A place where we can access the information we seek and the tools we need to bleed in comfort and confidence. We built our Period Aisle, but the reality is that the period aisle we envisioned should be everywhere - in schools, in our homes and in the street - because everyone deserves access to accurate information about their body.
If you know a young person seeking medically accurate information about periods, you can download our Youth Period Guide for free. We’d also never miss an opportunity to plug our favorite online sex-ed resource (and fellow 90s kid) Scarleteen. If you’re in Florida, we encourage you to reach out to your state representatives and let them know you are opposed to this bill, and no matter where you are, we hope you will continue to be period positive!