Seeing Red

Do disposable period products have you seeing red?
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COPY EDITORS: Samira Balsara, Eishvinder Gill

Does it actually work?”

She leans in as she asks this, cheeks flushed with embarrassment, voice hushed as if someone is listening. The wall of multicolored underwear seems to loom over her, immense and intimidating. Her eyes are wide with disbelief and I prepare for the next, inevitable question… 

You mean I won’t have to use a tampon, at ALL?”

Knixwear, a Canadian brand started by entrepreneur Joanna Griffiths, has revolutionized intimate apparel and period products. The company has been developing period underwear since 2013, providing individuals of all ages with an environmentally friendly alternative to one-use, disposable pads and tampons. I was drawn to Knix immediately as the brand combines fashion with practicality, comfort, and environmental awareness. 

As someone who strives to reduce my environmental footprint, the idea of going through multiple boxes of tampons a month was becoming increasingly distressing. So, when I got a position at Knix, I realized there was a solution to my dilemma. Was I skeptical at first? Of course! During my first few days at work, I couldn’t help blurting out questions like “How does it even work?” and “Can I really go without a tampon?” My coworkers would just smile knowingly. 

That month was the first time I have ever been excited about my cycle. I couldn’t wait to put Knix to the test. I bought a somewhat excessive supply of leakproof underwear, in as many different colours as possible. That first morning I nervously put on my new underwear, ignored the tampons in the drawer under the sink and left to run errands. 

By lunchtime, I decided I was never going back to my one-use products. If the comfort and ease alone couldn’t convince me, it was the environmentally-friendly nature of the underwear that fully sold me. I felt giddy and it wasn’t until the end of the day that I lost that excited feeling. Even though the underwear had worked perfectly, the advice I had been giving to customers for weeks, “Rinse before putting them in the washer”, echoed in my ears and I stood there, holding my Knix underwear, blushing. I felt like I was twelve years old again, terrified and embarrassed, holding my saturated undies in the public washroom of the campground when I got my period for the first time. And then it dawned on me… even at 22 years old, I was still embarrassed by my cycle. 

This is the reason why Knix is important. It’s the reason why customers whisper the words ‘period’ and ‘discharge’ like children whispering curse words. This is the reason why young girls drag their feet as they are pulled into the store. This is why horror flashes across individuals’ faces as I ask about their flow, as if this isn’t the very reason they came to Knix. It is because we are all still embarrassed, as old fashioned as it may seem. We are still embarrassed about the very function of the female body. 

Suddenly, Knix’s campaign slogans such as “everybody leaks”, made even more sense. Knix is not only trying to reduce waste but to change the narrative surrounding the menstrual cycle. The organization is attempting to undo the years of internalized shame and embarrassment that often surround the physical female body and its natural processes. They teach people of all ages to unapologetically embrace themselves and their bodies. 

In the end I gritted my teeth and rinsed my underwear in the sink. And, from doing this one simple act, I felt empowered. I felt like a badass. A badass in my period underwear, saving the environment one cycle at a time.