Archive for the ‘Activism & Politics’ Category

The joy of personal liberation

Monday, 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.

Healthy Periods: A Doctor’s Global Perspective

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Guest

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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Why Inclusion Matters.

Tuesday, 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

Kitty’s 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4Girls

Thursday, 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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Announcing G Day for Girls!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Madeleine

Telling you about G Day feels like a combination of my birthday, a weekend and every holiday I’ve ever anticipated. It’s a new creative project that I have had in my heart and mind since I was a little girl.

As a girl, I was awed by the idea of becoming an adult woman. Like Margaret in Judy Blume’s classic Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was obsessed with all the details, particularly menstruation, and on a semiconscious level I hoped that there would be some sort of fanfare when the momentous time came.

The obvious aside, nothing happened, and I was left with a sense of deep disappointment. Not that I could have told you what exactly I had imagined might happen – I just wanted other people to acknowledge in some way that what was happening to me was special, because I sure thought it was.

I was reminded of these feelings early last year, when I was invited to speak at Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver as part of a Special Edition created in partnership with Women Transforming Cities. At first I thought it was a bit weird to be thinking about my work in an urban context, and then I remembered my girlhood dream, and landed on the idea of creating modern Red Tents where we could bring our daughters to celebrate them when they entered adolescence.

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Investing in the Girl Effect with Wedu and Lunapads

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Guest

maricapic Investing in the Girl Effect with Wedu and Lunapads

“It starts by standing with the poor.”

I had heard those words many times since I started volunteering with the Vancouver+Acumen chapter in 2009. By August of 2012, I was craving a new adventure and opportunity for hands on learning. So I joined a 6 month program with Wedu, whose mission is to catalyze the next generation of female leaders by providing access to higher education and support through mentorship.

There were a multitude of lessons and new adventures waiting for me when I landed in Bangkok, Thailand – the operational hub for the Wedu team. Within a month I launched the first iteration of the Mentorship Program. Wedu works with students from rural Cambodia and Myanmar and, it was through the Mentorship Program that I found myself with a new mentee.

She is a bright light in my life, and has been since the day I met her and her family. My visit to her small village was the first time I had ever seen true poverty first hand. Her family lived in a single room home that was elevated from the ground for protection during rainy season. They had one cow, one pig, and a couple chickens, and made their living off of their small rice field and mango trees. They had so little, and yet they gave everything. We had a beautiful meal that cost no less (and likely much more) than one month’s wages, and with hand gestures (as they spoke no English, and I spoke no Khmer), they told me over and over how grateful they were for the scholarship Wedu gave their daughter. She is the first person in her family to go to university. I told them that we were not to be thanked, as she earned her scholarship with her hard work and dedication to her studies. My visit was short and happy, and I smiled as we drove away the next day.

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Top 10 Lunapads Highlights of 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 by Madeleine

2013collage Top 10 Lunapads Highlights of 2013

As we look forward to 2014, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on 10 things that rocked the Lunaverse in 2013.

1. Lunapads turned 20! I was thrilled, inspired and amazed to look back at 20 years of social entrepreneurship.

2. One Billion Rising. On February 14th, Lunapads co-led the Vancouver One Billion Rising event. It was an exuberant, beautiful and powerful expression of resistance against violence against women and girls globally.

3. More Underwear! We launched a slew of new Lunapanties styles, and added Dear Kate and PACT underwear to our growing collection of performance and eco-friendly underwear. Stay tuned for more additions in 2014!

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Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Monday, October 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

group1 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful I am still buzzing from my time in beautiful Boulder CO at last weekend’s stellar Emerging Women Live conference. There have already been a ton of great posts recapping talks and performances by the likes of Ani DiFrancoElizabeth GilbertAlanis Morissette and Brené Brown.

While I did glean incredible takeaways and inspiration from these well-known gals, I’d like to talk about some of the lesser-known women involved with the conference: some presenters I had never previously heard of, other attendees, and the event organizers.

I’ll start with someone close to home: one of my fantastic roommates, Emira Mears (left). You know the bliss of being with a longtime friend/colleague/co-conspirator who totally gets you, and yet you don’t get to see nearly often enough? That. To get to have numerous thoughtful conversations punctuated with spots of dancing and shopping over the period of a few days was pure pleasure, and epitomized for me the spirit of #EWLive13: Sisterhood.

Emira and I shared our room and camaraderie seamlessly with the brilliant and highly entertaining Melody Biringer (right), the serial entrepreneur, CRAVE and Urban Campfire founder and author of Craving Success. Our collective energy was an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial tips, connections and spicy anecdotes, with a side of powerful family & relationship sharing. This pic of us with our beloved shero Eve Ensler pretty much tells the story.

Moving on to a couple of the people who made it all possible in the first place, a deep bow to you, Chantal Pierrat. Emira and I have known Chantal since 2004 when we all attended SVI – Women at Hollyhock. We’ve all come a long way since then and were completely blown away by Chantal’s vision, presence and and flat-out fabulousness as she hosted us. A further deep bow is due to (I am making this title up) Operations Priestess Karna Liv Nau, whose meticulous attention to detail was matched only by the genuine love and care that she brought to attending to I can only imagine how many details and personalities.

Spending time with Tami Simon (founder of Sounds True, Chantal’s former employer, center) was another precious moment. She was also at the 2004 event with Chantal, and Emira and I had the benefit of receiving her deep, heartfelt and highly conscious thoughts on the upcoming 2014 Vancouver SVI – Women conference that we are planning.

group2 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Some other particularly meaningful connections for me included the searing soul searcher Sera Beak (check out her books The Red Book and Red, Hot & Holy: a Heretic’s Love Story), the perpetually radiant Amber Krzys (we are massive fans of her BodyHeart program), The Right Brain Business Plan author Jennifer Lee and the lovely Sara Avant Stover, whose extraordinary book the Way of the Happy Woman I am close to finishing reading and will share about at greater length very soon.

I myself was invited to lead a dinner conversation on the topic of “Scaling Your Business” with an incredible group of entrepreneurs. Our conversation rapidly evolved from sharing our respective goals to an extraordinarily powerful and deeply personal connection. I am talking BIG MAGIC.

My final virtual namaste goes to Melinda, a woman I met on the first afternoon at a “power circle”, where we connected with a small group prior to moving into the larger experience. Over dinner she shared with me and another member of the group that she had always had trouble embracing relationships with other women. As we ate, we learned her story, and in turn shared our own experiences in service of her quest to connect. It was another classic Sisterhood moment: women witnessing, supporting and lifting one another up: Emerging together.

One4Her: Eliminating Poverty with AFRIpads

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Madeleine

During a coaching session I had once upon a time I was asked what my favourite hobby is. I said gardening, and the Coach then asked what I had observed during my time in the garden that might be applicable to the rest of my life. “That everything takes its own time”, I replied. I thought of this when we received this video of a recent One4Her distribution of 2,000 AFRIpads kits in Kibera, Kenya.

Going back through my email to discover just how long we have been talking to Judy Craig from Eliminate Poverty Now tells me that not only has our conversation been going on for close to four years, but moreover that in its course it has built a quality of deep and mutual respect. Without getting into all the ins and outs, bit by bit by bit we have exchanged ideas and contacts without really having a sense of what our goal was. But we kept going, and now we have some great news for you.

The other very notable long-term player and relationship in this story is AFRIpads, who go back to 2008. The consistent features? Trust, communication, and willingness to keep supporting, answering questions, making suggestions – even when we didn’t know what we were going to “get out of it” (the expression feels ludicrous given how much goodwill exists between all of us!).

In Judy’s words, this is what you get: ”We had an intensely moving day. You get a sense of it from the girls’ faces. For me, the high point was when one of the girls asked whether there would be clotheslines to dry the pads on at secondary school. She clearly intended to go to secondary school – and we know that having the pads will help her achieve that goal. But just as clearly, she had no personal experience of what secondary school would be like. Probably, she’ll be the first child in her family – or in her neighborhood – to go to secondary school. And we are helping to make that happen. How lucky are we to be able to help someone transform their life that way?

Emerging Women Live!

Friday, September 6th, 2013 by Madeleine

ewlive Emerging Women Live!

It’s such a great buzz when a bunch of your favourite things converge. Here are 3 of mine: relationships, powerful women, and events.

Given this, it will come as no surprise that I kind of freaked out when I heard about Emerging Women Live (October 10-13, Boulder CO). Hearing the speaker lineup was kind of like a feminist version of celebrity fireworks: Ani DiFranco (boom!), Elizabeth Gilbert (boom!), Alanis Morissette (boom!), Sobonfu Some (boom!), Brené Brown (boom-boom!) and so on. Just hearing these names as a list made me wonder whether Hilary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg might just show up for some girlfriend time: stunning!!!

Then I learned that the creative force behind it was none other than Chantal Pierrat, a longtime colleague who I met for the first time at SVI-Women at Hollyhock in 2004. (As it happens, I recently co-produced SVI-Women in Vancouver.) At the time, Chantal was the Sales & Marketing Director for Sounds True, working with one of my all-time entrepreneur sheros, Tami Simon.

It turns out that Chantal’s entrepreneurial spirit was lit as she listened to the stories of the circle of women business owners who gathered together to learn from and empower one another in our journeys. After close to decade with Sounds True, Chantal felt called to create her own venture, marrying her interest in personal growth and progressive entrepreneurship to create an event dedicated to what she calls “feminine leadership”.

All of this is to say: I can’t wait!! Lunapads is a Marketing Partner and will be providing beautiful gifts to all of the participants. If you’re there, please be sure to say hello. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Chantal, and the ripples that the event itself will create. Hope to see you in Boulder!