Miki Agrawal wants to take the stigma out of your period—and frankly, said stigma shouldn’t even be there in the first place. Sometimes, it seems like even talking about your period is taboo, and things just continue to reach higher and higher Alanis Morissette levels of ironic when you find out that the literal translation of the word taboo has roots in your moon cycle. “The word ‘taboo’ actually comes from the Polynesian word ‘tapua,’ which means menstruation,” the Thinx co-founder tells us, citing specific scriptures in which women are considered to be ‘unclean’ or ‘not pure’ while on their period. “It’s like, how is it possible that the thing that perpetuates a human species is considered shameful? There’s a real need to say, wait a minute, this is ridiculous, because we’re not only having to deal with our period every single month that creates human life, but instead, it’s considered a way to keep women down.” As we have vivid flashbacks to every time we’ve been accused of being on our period after showing the slightest bit of emotion, or every time we’ve tried to discreetly pocket a tampon on the way to the bathroom so the rest of the class wouldn’t see, Agrawal explains that one of the many goals in starting Thinx was to change the conversation surrounding those 5 to 7 days per month using a combination of education, and some super-appealing aesthetics.
If you have yet to see a pair of Thinx (available at shethinx.com) in real life, you’ve definitely heard of them—they’re the innovative underwear that have the ability to hold the amount of blood that would typically be containted in two tampons. After much frustration and countless pairs of ruined bedsheets, Agrawal came up with the idea for Thinx following some research in the feminine care category, and a mishap at her family’s annual barbecue. “My twin sister and I were defending our three-legged-race championship title, and in the middle of the race, she started her period, so we had to sprint to the bathroom and up a flight of stairs while still tied to each other,” she tells us. “As she was washing out her bathing suit bottoms, that’s when the idea struck. I was like, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could create a pair of underwear that never leaks or stains during that point every month?” Developing the technology took the longest part, but truth be told, it’s pretty revolutionary. The center layer of the fabric helps to wick away moisture, so you never feel wet, and you’ll stay odor-free all day thanks to the anti-microbial elements built in. The absorption layer combined with the leak-proof (but breathable) layer ensure your clothes stay completely clean. They can act as extra insurance to your tampon on especially heavy days, but on your medium to light days, you can rock a pair solo. Thinx panties can either be washed by hand or machine, and can even be thrown in the drier, provided that you skip the fabric softener to protect the anti-microbial layer.
In the brand’s next natural phase of evolution, Thinx is branching out to include their own organic cotton tampons, which are available via subsription service, and are meant to be used with the reusable tampon applicator, dubbed the Rita. “If you look at the way feminine hygiene products are created with plastic and other ingredients, 20 billion plastic applicators, tampons, and pads end up in landfills every year. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so it’s really on us to understand that we should support, and innovate to come up with better solutions for protecting the Earth,” Agrawal says. “The Rita is made from medical-grade silicone, which is the same material used to create menstrual cups, and it completely alleviates the major waste going into our landfills.” Even better, it’s super-easy to use. Simply drop the tampon into the applicator, and once it’s in position, you can wash off the applicator in the sink and throw it into your bag—the carrying case almost looks like a tube of lipstick.
The Thinx brand also aims to make changes on a global level. For the past three years, Thinx has been partnered with AFRIPads, a company that makes washable, reusable cloth pads, and an amount of the proceeds from the sale of every pair of underwear are paid to AFRIPads to manufacture a pack of their menstrual pads. From there, they sell the goods at a reduced price to local girls in Uganda. “We initially loved the idea of the buy-one, give-one model, but this way the local business is able to grow and become empowered,” says Agrawal. “Now, we’re taking it one step further and we’re starting our Thinx Global Girls Clubs in which we’ve created a 6-month curriculum that teaches girls about their bodies, menstrual products, self-defense, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.” In short, a few of the key topics needed to run the world. The Thinx Global Girls Clubs will launch starting in India, Nepal, and different parts of Africa to start, as we keep our fingers crossed that worldwide status will be achieved shortly thereafter. We’re pretty sure that when Leona Lewis sung “Bleeding Love,” she had our figurative and literal feelings for this company in mind.