Friday, 24 May 2019

An Ode To Thinx

Unlike my mother, I didn't think I was dying when I got my first period. There weren't secrets and there wasn't shame in our house by the time I was growing up and I was well-informed and prepared when it happened. Although, I was cross that I had to wait the excruciatingly long period (hah) of a few years after I first asked what pads were at three before my mother would get into it all with me.

However, in saying that I was prepared, I tell a bit of a lie. I understood the mechanics. I knew what I would need to do but I was not ready for the familial burden of painful, heavy periods that would befall me. I was not ready for the trauma of publicly bleeding through white pants (I now own none as I cannot play that game anymore) far from clothes stores the second or third time I had my period and having to spend the rest of the family outing with a sweatshirt tied around my waist and my butt as close to walls as possible. I was not ready for the unpredictability of my cycle that made me and my first boyfriend constantly stress about the potential of my being pregnant (I never was and understood intellectually that I often skipped months or had cycle changes but ask any woman and that's the immediate thought she has if she's a second late). I was not ready for hormonal acne to take the place of teenage acne, ensuring that my skin has never truly been clear. And I was not ready for the hormonal changes in my twenties that have completely changed my cycle and symptoms a couple of times now.


I don't think any of us are ever ready for these things but we have to muddle on because menstruation - no matter how messy, painful, or annoying - was never presented as an excuse (certainly not in my personal experience) not to get on with things. We still have to go to school, act half normal, go to work, be pleasant, and not talk about it or complain. Now that I'm a little older, I've kinda of said "eff that." I'm more open, talk about it all the time, and I'm determined to beat the squick about the topic out of certain men in my life because all of the menstruators around me know plenty about my trials and tribulations and mishaps and pain. I'm not embarrassed to toss pads in my shopping basket, or to leave them out in our bathroom (despite my sister admonishing me for potentially offending the sensibilities of my male housemate), liberally throw around the phrase "on the rag," or to turn down my Dad's offer of his running leggings as they were new and I couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be a "spill on aisle four" (he's the most precious about it all and is getting my most targeted normalisation campaign).

However, in saying all of that, there are instances where my personal beliefs and stances need to take a bit of a backseat. I currently work in an office in which there are only a few of us and I am the only woman. There is a professional boundary there and no public policies or established cultural tone on the topic for me to feel comfortable bringing things up or even to be relaxed about things. When I'm in agony for the first two days of menstruating, I kind of have to play it down. And I used to have to put pads in my pocket or behind my back going out the door to the bathroom because I don't want my preaching and personal beliefs to make such an intimate and casual work space awkward.


Thinx have kind of fixed that problem for me. I just pop 'em on and everyone is none the wiser. In fact, sometimes I kind of forget about it myself. I can't believe I'm saying that and it blows my mind but: I often pull the underpants down, (after the initial two days of pain, obviously) only to remember that they're those special ones. I don't have a big thing wedged in my knickers, sometimes making sounds I'm not too keen on, as a constant reminder. I just have these comfy underpants that I actually really like the look of.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. If you've never heard of them, Thinx is a brand that makes reusable, washable cotton underwear with an absorbent lining in the crotch that allow you to go without using any other menstruation products. I had heard about them years ago but - and here's the only real catch - didn't have the funds necessary for the initial investment as they cost over 20 quid a pop and you need a few pairs, obviously. I was also wary about how effective they might be as that old bleed-through trauma lingers but call me converted! I cannot believe how good they are! I have not had a leak, don't feel uncomfortable or dirty, and get right through the working day no problem; hours of wear without a concern and, as I pointed out earlier, so comfy I sometimes completely forget that I'm on the rag.


The real selling point for me, however, was that I have been making a lot of changes in my life in order to be a better citizen of this planet and I could not stand how much waste this one part of my life was generating when I was doing so well in every other part. I had never been a tampon person so when a bunch of my friends started using moon cups a few years ago, I was jealous, but I just knew that if a tampon was a no-go, then a menstrual cup was utterly out of the question. Thinx are the perfect solution to all of my tree-hugging and comfort-loving concerns.

When I ordered my first batch (and I plan on getting some more soon), the postal service arrived at our office building (where I get everything delivered) so early that the mail room and security guys hadn't gotten to work yet. This sent my order to the nearest collection centre, which is about a forty minute walk away and a Dublin-is-not-well-connected-good-luck-finding-a-useful-bus-route-when-it-doesn't-even-exist distance away. In addition, it noted on the slip of paper that I had gotten caught for customs (amounting to the cost of another pair) for the first time in my life. To say I was annoyed is an understatement and I kind of regretted the whole affair. However, since getting my hands on them, I've been singing a very different tune. These guys are game changers. I'm obsessed and have ranted to every menstruator I know about them.


Honestly, I really can't say enough good things about the brand. All of my qualms have been completely eradicated and I'm converted. So, if you've been thinking about making your life even more eco-friendly and you have to deal with periods, then you should check them out. I'm personally a fan of the black bikini brief sized up because I love me a good pair of granny knickers - although these are a pretty slick and fancy version.

Right, well I've probably overshared and will likely get told off by someone in my life for going into so much detail to strangers on the internet but, fuck it, they're just bodies doing what some bodies do. May you bleed safely and as comfortably as possible.

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