Miki Agrawal is out to change how the world thinks about women’s periods.
In an age when women have made enormous strides in everything from workplace and academic equality, comfort in demanding what we want in bed and access to birth control and abortions – we still squirm when talking about menstruation.
“Women in our culture don’t want to talk about their periods — most still think about it as crass and disgusting ,” says Agrawal, CEO and founder of THINX, maker of women’s underwear that doubles as feminine pads. “I want to change the culture around women’s most normal time of month — and not while wearing grandma panties or pads that feel like a diaper.”
In the Western world, squeamishness around menstruation means the average woman spends thousands over her lifetime on tampons with landfill-packing plastic applicators (“Women are afraid to touch themselves, or that they will get blood under their fingernails,” Agrawal says), and pads that any women will tell you are uncomfortable and unreliable. Both tend to leak. In much of the developing world, extreme taboo around women and girls’ monthly bleed mean they fall behind at school or are limited in their ability to work at paying jobs.
The United Nations reports that just 43 percent of girls in developing nations attend secondary school — in large part because of poor access to feminine hygiene products that could make it easier for them to attend school during their so-called “week of shame.”
“That is not OK,” says Agrawal.