The joy of personal liberation

April 14th, 2014 by Madeleine

madsleft The joy of personal liberationOne of the greatest gifts that switching from tampons to Lunapads and the DivaCup (in addition to all of the obvious things that we are always talking about) has given me is the inspiration to question all kinds of personal and consumer choices that we often take for granted as necessary or inevitable.

For some women, casting aside caring about others’ opinions of them, or even the notion of being a woman at all, can open up whole new worlds of freedom and self-expression.

I have been enjoying the Raw Beauty Talks campaign, where Vancouver social entrepreneur Erin Treloar has been photographing local women without makeup, and pairing the portraits with frank interviews about photoshop, “inner beauty” and how we navigate judgement about appearance.

As someone who uses some makeup pretty much every day, I have been moved by beholding the real faces of many women that I know, effectively “seeing” them for the first time, and reconsidering my own choices as a result. Am I “empowered” in my choices around my appearance, or a still-deluded consumer too shamed to accept myself in my natural state?

While I’m not ready to give up my mascara and mineral powder just yet, there are many other related choices that I have become conscious of since I discovered that I didn’t “need” disposable menstrual products. I still remember the first time I passed by the “feminine paper” aisle in the drugstore in my post-tampon euphoria: I felt so free, like I didn’t have to believe a particularly pernicious lie anymore. In what other ways does the Emperor have no clothes?, I wondered.

What about the practice of hair dyeing and removal? Most women that I know dye or at least highlight their hair, as I did for many years. I still remember the burning sensation at my roots as I tried to do what is still taken for granted as a rationale: conceal the inevitable grey. I have been proudly and happily dye-free for 8 years and feel fantastic about it. When asked what my hair colour is, my joke has become that I have no idea and honestly don’t care. (For a longer, excellent read on the hair topic, head over to our friend Marnie Goldenberg’s blog.)

What if I could feel the same way about the crows feet around my eyes, the scars on my belly, my post-nursing breasts, and acne-pocked skin? How great would that be?

I know other women who have “let themselves off the hook” (literally!) by ditching bras, or at least those with underwire. Others say no to waxing, dieting, nylons, skinny jeans, thong underwear or high heels, just to name a few. What standard “beauty rap” have you let go of (or do you embrace?) Here’s my “off the hook” list: lipstick, hair dye, waxing, high heels, nylons. And still going there (for now): teeth whitening, picky haircut, eyebrow maintenance, eye makeup, the odd facial.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that “beauty” maintenance is necessarily bad. Some women I know love their high heels, for example: they make them feel powerful. Right on, Sister! The point is to become more conscious about whether or not something is a true, freely-made choice that supports your fabulousness, or just something that you do because of a false, unquestioned belief (who would want to look old if they could help it, right?) that doesn’t actually serve you (or anyone, for that matter). Maybe one day I’ll find the perfect pair of heels, discover that tooth whiteneing is toxic, or decide to cut my hair short or dye it purple, who knows? In the meantime, I’m just going to keep checking in to see what feels good to me today.

Ageism is rampant in our society, and nowhere is it visited more harshly than upon women. Look beautiful, stay beautiful, fight ageing: this is what we’re told. How about this instead: love, accept, care for and celebrate yourself in whatever ways serve you, free yourself and others from judgement, and seek joy and liberation in whatever forms they take for you.

Guest blogger Saki Onda is a Masters of Public Health student in the global health department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

smbiophoto Healthy Periods: A Doctors Global Perspective

The ability to manage our menses safely, comfortably, and with dignity is a luxury that most women and girls in industrialized countries take for granted.

My personal experience with menstruation has always been a positive one – around the age of eight my mother sat me down to explain periods and cooked sekihan or ‘red rice’ when I did reach menarche. In my home country of Japan, this steamed sticky rice and azuki bean dish is prepared on special occasions that call for celebration – one of which is when a girl reaches menarche, although this custom is less frequently practiced nowadays.

Being of Japanese origin but having grown up in international communities in the U.S., France, and the U.K., I have become aware of varying attitudes, practices, and taboos towards menstruation. As a physician and current Master of Public Health student with a focus on reproductive health, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has become an area of growing interest.

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Art Therapy LunaCircle with Moorea Hum

April 7th, 2014 by Lunapads Team

lunacircle Art Therapy LunaCircle with Moorea Hum

Join us for an evening of inspiration and empowerment with special guest Moorea Hum, art therapist and creator of Yinstill’s Grieving Reproductive Loss Art Therapy program.

Creativity can connect you to the natural processes that takes place on a biological, emotional, mental and spiritual level. This creative engagement encourages a healthy flow of energy allowing you to release, tolerate or make space for the stressful or difficult emotions you may be experiencing.

Come learn about how art therapy can reduce stress and connect you with your inner emotional self. Moorea will show us how it works and take us through a supportive and therapeutic art therapy activity. There will be an opportunity to learn more about mental health care, Moorea’s story and if you feel called to each share a bit of our own emotional journey. No art background or skills required!

When: Wednesday, April 23rd
Time: 7PM (join us at 6:30 for snacks and socializing!)
Where: Lunapads International, 3433 Commercial Street Vancouver BC (map)

LunaCircles are free events sponsored by Lunapads that create a safe space for conversation and exploration of how we connect with our fertility cycles. Please RSVP to the Facebook Event Page and share the event with your friends!

Why Inclusion Matters.

March 18th, 2014 by Lisa

abstractsquares Why Inclusion Matters.

Hi everybody, Lisa (@lunaplaids) here. In 2011, I wrote a blog post called Lunapads for All Genders All Bodies to address the inadequacies of, and harm caused by, a gender essentialist approach to periods and bodies — and to share my hopes for a more nuanced, affirming and inclusive dialogue about menstruation.

Lacy’s message below highlights their lived experience as an agender person navigating their period while contending with marketing messages and products that are heavily gendered in ways that are upsetting and incongruent to who they are. I wanted to share Lacy’s story to demonstrate that inclusion is not just a nice ideal to have, but something that actually matters in people’s everyday lives.

If you’re trans, nonbinary, or gender variant and have questions, resources, or feedback to share (or you just want to say hi!), feel free to get in touch with me anytime at lisa@lunapads.com. Thanks, everyone. ♥

hello! i’m an agender person (i prefer they/them pronouns) and i just wanted to say how refreshing and appreciated it was to see an acknowledgment from a company selling “feminine” hygiene products that it’s not only females who have periods. though it’s a little thing, it gets tiring to hear the “only women get periods/periods are a part of being a girl” spiel every time i see an ad for pads or tampons. seeing your website not only acknowledge that periods aren’t female-exclusive (and that not all females have them, or have the parts to have them) was truly a breath of fresh air, and gave me a sense of relief.

i’ve always found that my dysphoria with my body was worse when i was on my period, but i recently discovered that my period itself wasn’t the issue! what was causing me so much gender discomfort and stress was the constant insistence that the products i was using are only for females and female parts. it came from all directions- the products themselves, their commercials, their labeling of “feminine hygiene” in the grocery- and it was enough to make me feel like a stranger in my own body. though it was frustrating and upsetting, i accepted it as something that just wasn’t going to change, and tried to ignore it.

however, earlier today, i talked with a friend about my frustrations with regular pads and tampons (the bleached cotton makes me break out) and she recommended me to your site. she says she’s used your products for years and has never been disappointed, so i figured why not give it a look. i did, and not only was i extremely impressed with your products (and i plan to buy some next paycheck!), but i was moved to actual tears after reading the bit you included on people who weren’t cis women using your products. to see a company like yours treat menstruation as something that not only women (and not all women!) experience is so refreshing, and i can’t express how much it means to me personally.

thank you so much for this step forward in inclusiveness!
-Lacy

update: i just finished my first period with lunapads and it was an incredible experience. i didn’t have to deal with the breakouts i usually get during my period- which confirms, for me, that it was definitely caused by the disposable pads i wore. better yet, lunapads gave me a way to handle my period on my own terms, without having to walk through the feminine hygiene section and feel out of place.

i felt at home and at peace with my period, and they were so soft that i’m looking forward to using them again. thank you so much for all your kindness! i’m thankful to have found such a caring person in such a wonderful company!

Further Reading:
Lunapads for All Genders, All Bodies
Trans-inclusive language in a menstrual health blog
No, I won’t ask about your period. Yes, you can tell me about it.
Endometriosis and Transgender: Beyond Gendered Reproductive Health
Trans Men’s Health is a “Women’s Health” Issue: Expanding the Boundaries of Sexual & Reproductive Health Care
Of Menstruation and Manhole Covers

Cycling to Grandma’s House Review & Giveaway

March 11th, 2014 by Jennifer

Comment below for the chance to win a copy of Cycling to Grandma’s House, written by Jac Torres-Gomez and illustrated by Erin-Claire Barrow. Contest ends March 18th.

When I first got my period my mother was the only person who knew for at least a year or more. For some reason, I was embarrassed and ashamed. The shame ran so deep I even lied to my closest friends when they all started getting their periods! It just wasn’t a very positive experience for me. Although, I knew all about the why and the how, I was just so embarrassed. It wasn’t for lack of education or even a lack of female influence in my life. A lot has changed since then! Yet, I sometimes think about how my relationship to my period and myself would have been different if I had a book like ‘Cycling to Grandma’s House.’

cycling Cycling to Grandmas House Review & Giveaway

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AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on it

March 7th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s amazing timing that AFRIpads founders Paul Grinvalds and Sophia (Sonia) Klumpp have recently become engaged (hooray! we wish them every happiness), because we have some commitment news of our own: Lunapads has just become an official shareholder in AFRIpads.

afripadslunapartner AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on itMadeleine, Paul, Sonia & Suzanne meet in Uganda for the first time in 2012

Like most long-term relationships, you keep building it over time (in this case, since 2008), not really paying attention to all the incremental pieces of trust and co-creation that are taking place. And then from time to time it hits you that it’s actually something special that’s worth pausing to take stock of and celebrate: this is one of those moments.

Looking back at our over-20 year career as entrepreneurs, our relationship and visit with AFRIpads stands out as a high point. For those of you new to the story, the journey started in 2008 when Carrie-Jane Williams, then a UBC student, brought over some Lunapads kits to the Ugandan village where she was working on a literacy project. There she happened to meet Paul and Sonia, themselves also volunteers working on a development project, and showed them the pads she had left.

Paul and Sonia, for their part already having identified the issue of girls missing school due to lack of feminine hygiene products, were inspired to start their own business making pads modeled after Lunapads. They wrote to us to ask for our support, we said yes, and “off to the races” they went.

By the time we met Paul and Sonia and the AFRIpads team for the first time in January of 2012, they had 30 employees working in 2 facilities, and had supplied over 100,000 girls with AFRIpads kits. Since then their team has grown to over 60 and they have supplied over 250,000 girls with pad kits.  And, as new investors, we are beyond proud to be directly supporting the building of their new factory, which just broke ground this year!

Following our 2012 meeting, we decided to launch our One4Her partnership, whereby for each Lunapads One4Her product sold, AFRIpads are donated to girls in need in East Africa. To date, the One4Her program will have provided over 34,000 AFRIpads to thousands of girls: the largest distribution being 2,000 kits in Kibera, Kenya in October 2013.

While our relationship with AFRIpads’ most obvious benefit is providing girls with pads to support their school attendance, another key aspect is sustainable employment for local Ugandan women, and we have also been proud to support AFRIpads’ staff professional development.

Like getting married, becoming shareholders is a big step: but when it feels right – well, it just feels right. We’re excited for the future, knowing that we are stronger together.

Congratulations to everyone, and many, many happy returns!

My Autistic Daughter has Period Independence

February 21st, 2014 by Guest

freegirl My Autistic Daughter has Period Independence

Over the years, we’ve received a number of messages from autistic customers — and from the parents of autistic kids and teens, too — telling us that Lunapads are more comfortable and have helped ease the sensory issues sometimes triggered by conventional menstrual products.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a mom who wanted to share her autistic daughter’s Lunapanties experience with me. In her email, she encouraged us to share her daughter’s story with organizations serving autistic communities, and recommends that we work with various associations to help “enlighten parents about this amazing product”.

I thought sharing an excerpt of what she wrote here might be a good way to reach some of these organizations, and get the conversation started here, too — so, with permission from the whole family, here it is.

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Meet Rachel, our new Pads4Girls Intern!

February 20th, 2014 by Rachel

rachel Meet Rachel, our new Pads4Girls Intern!

Hi, I’m Rachel! I’m so excited to be the newest part of the Lunapads family. I’m especially happy about working with the Pads4Girls program as it encompasses so much of what I am passionate about.

I grew up in a small city in Alberta, and have often told people my entire personality is based on the fact that I am a middle child, since I have always tended towards peacemaking and conflict avoidance. I am a happy introvert content with being alone in my own thoughts, a book, or a nice hot beverage.

I grew up wanting to graduate from high school and become a stay at home Mom with copious amounts of children. Somewhere along the way, however, my desires grew and I longed for more experiences and adventure. I have since then studied and lived in Calgary, BC and Ottawa along with travelling to Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, England, Kenya, and many more states and provinces than I can count.

I went to Kenya in 2012 as a dream come true after years of studying Africa and desiring to one day visit. I went with my University and while there worked on a development project where we taught a local tailoring group how to make reusable feminine pads. Since I had minor sewing skills and a passion for women’s empowerment I was very excited about this project!

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Kitty’s 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4Girls

February 13th, 2014 by Kitty

mainphoto Kittys 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4GirlsI have been a part of the Lunapads community for two years now, and throughout that time, I have witnessed countless people taking an active role in empowering girls in developing nations. Whether it be donations through AFRIpads, or distributions through personal travels, I have always itched to do my part. With this inspiration, partnered with the idea of charity birthdays, I dedicated my 23rd in raising 23 Pads4Girls kits. At the time, I had no idea which organization to direct the funds to and where to donate the pad kits. As life would have it, the opportunity came up for me to personally connect with and distribute these pad kits to girls living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The organization I worked with, Save Lives Ethiopia, is a not-for-profit which focuses on providing AIDS-stricken orphans of Ethiopia with a supportive and loving environment to live in. These kids are placed with family members, such as their aunts and uncle, and Save Lives will support the family and children with food, education, health care, and social support through regular check-ups from community nurses. The love and support from family members is so important in terms of shaping a child’s growth. This value was emphasized when I spoke with the Executive Director of Save Lives, Frehiwot Alebachew, and has resonated with me ever since.

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kittycollage A LunaGal Abroad: Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia

Photos, clockwise from top left: a) Wearing injera basket lids as hats and being silly with our really good friend, Sintayehu b) Part of the Arc Team during a weekend road trip en route to Debre Zeit. c) Learning how to weave from the ladies at Salem’s Design, a shop opened by a partner entrepreneur d) Proof I did indeed feed a hyena in Harar

In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a few fellow classmates of mine. The organization we traveled with, Arc Initiative connected us with small business owners and entrepreneurs of Ethiopia. I had the chance to learn about what they do, as well as exchange ideas on how run a business.

Gamesh Habesha, meaning “half Ethiopian” in Amharic, is a term I coined myself halfway through the trip. Due to my darker shade of Asian skin tone and my ability to blurt out a few Amharic phrases, locals often considered that idea. My team and I were often invited into people’s homes for coffee ceremony or dinner, and treated like I was part of the family. Even with the cultural difference, I felt like I was a local near the end of the trip. With so many memories to choose from, here are my top 5 highlights from the trip:

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