rant: periods are the pits
Emily Naismith isn’t thrilled about getting her period every month, but at least there’s a way to make it a little less anxiety-inducing.
Periods aren’t fair. At like 12 years old (give or take a few years), on top of everything else you’re dealing with (changing schools, new friends, huge hormonal shifts, trying to work out how to catch a goddamn bus) you have to deal with the onset of seemingly random, multi-day bleeding into your undies. It seems very cruel, especially at a time when Pokémon should be your top priority.
Before I got my first period, I was pretty intrigued by it all – the cute designs on pad packs, feeling like part of the cool, mature gang – but when it actually rolled around, reality smacked me in the face and I cried. This painful mess would happen monthly for most of my life. What the – and I cannot stress this enough – hell?! This happens to roughly half the population and we just act like it’s fine? IT’S NOT FINE AT ALL, OK?
Now that we all agree on that, we can move on to dealing with this absolutely diabolical part of life. Look, I don’t want to brag, but I basically invented period undies (that is, the super-absorbent underwear that soaks up your blood instead of, or in addition to, a pad or tampon). I was sitting in my year 7 textiles class sewing felt sea creatures onto a bag made of excess tartan from an airline that I would absolutely never, ever be seen dead using, when I got the feeling that perhaps my pad was no longer working.
There has to be a better way, I thought to myself as I washed and dried my dress in the school bathroom. It’d be better if your actual undies just caught the blood, instead of having to work out how a pad works and praying it stays in place. Look, I wish I could say that thought spurred me on to invent fabric technology that would make period undies a reality, but instead I just went back to my absolutely fugly bag and sewed an octopus on the brown and blue checkered material.
Luckily, smarter and more driven people (aka Modibodi’s Kristy Chong), cracked the code, and years later, period undies are a real thing. I want to cry when I think about how empowering they’d be for young teens who are so scared their period’s going to come that it stops them from doing stuff. I stopped swimming and playing water polo at 12 for that reason, and I’m absolutely sure if period swimwear had been a thing back then, I’d be an ex-Olympian by now (or at least, have stronger shoulder muscles).
As a staunch period undie supporter, I was pretty pumped to add a few pairs from Modibodi to my stash. The ‘heavy absorbency’ styles really appealed to me because I’m ridiculously lazy and hate changing tampons when I think it might be full but am not sure. When you’re wearing period undies, you can just relax and direct your anxiety towards other parts of your life (or, you know, not worry at all, if you’re one of those lucky people whose anxiety doesn’t instantly shift from one thing to the next).
The knickers themselves seemed pretty regular and comfy – they were just a bit thicker in parts. I tried both the seam-free and ‘sensual’ high-waist styles. Look, I didn’t exactly feel sensual wearing them (who does on their period), but I did feel secure and dry (they really wick that stuff away quick smart). My only gripe was that the seam-free ones were so silky they caused my tracksuit pants to slip down, but if I did want to wear a silk slip while tottering around working from home, they’d definitely do the trick.
Cutting down on waste – from both an environmental and cost perspective – is a big part of the appeal for me, too. Instead of using a pack of tampons and pads each month, I can pretty much just rely on the undies. And with five pairs of undies on rotation, each month is pretty well covered.
The best part, though: when I was wearing these period knickers I sometimes forgot I had my period (in the non-crampy moments, anyway). So yeah, the magical invention is pretty liberating, when you think about it. And if ‘liberated’ is something you can feel while on your period, you know you’re onto something good.