Archive for the ‘Girls and Teens’ Category

Stephanie Nolen: a shero among sheros

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s not every day that you get to meet one of your all-time heroes, but it happened to me just last weekend when journalist Stephanie Nolen was briefly in Vancouver.

2014-11-09-14.01.56-1024x764Thanks to my Mother’s influence I have been a Globe and Mail reader for most of my life. Stephanie’s writing first came to my attention when she donned a hijab and headed to out to cover the invasion of Afghanistan and fall of the Taliban.

Her knack for illustrating a macro-truth based on one person’s story immediately moved me, as well as her particular interest in the situation of girls and women. She was my kind of hero: brave, hugely talented, social justice-minded and up for adventure. As I said to Suzanne at the time, if I wasn’t already lucky enough to get to be me, I’d want to be Stephanie.

Speaking last weekend at a gathering hosted by 60 Million Girls, a Canadian charity that takes its name from the number of girls deprived of education in the developing world, Stephanie chose to focus on the story of some remarkable students and one determined activist at two unique schools in rural Bihar state in Northern India, taking as her starting point how “laughter and dignity”, as much as careers, independence and a wealthier and healthier life, are what girls miss out on when denied access to schooling. (The full story, including multiple feature articles and audi slideshows, are here.)

It was a point that landed well with the audience of seasoned leaders, educators and philanthropists already well aware of the benefits of educating girls. Stephanie first encountered the Prerna School for Mahadalit girls and its intrepid founder Sudha Varghese thanks to a tip from a friend. Following a lengthy search, she finally pushed open an unassuming gate and witnessed a rare sight in rural India: a green schoolyard of laughing, playing girls. The girls greeted her with a polite salutation before carrying on with their games, itself highly unusual for a tall, lone, female foreigner who typically drew curious crowds, not to mention low-caste girls, who would normally have shied away.

2014-11-09-15.30.25-300x224In and of themselves a rarity in India in general, these particular schoolgirls were an especially unlikely find, being as they are from the bottom of India’s caste system (“Mahadalit” basically translates as “lowest of the low”). “These girls have basically lost the global lottery,” in terms of social privilege, she explained, and was astounded to find an entire school dedicated to nourishing and educating them.

She went on to share Sudha’s story of determining to become as nun as one of the few ways to lead an independent life as a woman, learning of the plight of the Dalit people (also commonly known as “untouchable”) and determining to do what she could to support the most marginalized among them: girls.

Prerna means “inspiration”: the name of the school she founded on a shoestring in 2006, and inspiring indeed is the tale of how one woman has singlehandedly created two schools that now house and educate almost 200 girls. One of the most striking curriculum items is karate, a program where the girls have excelled to the point of winning local, state and even competitions in Japan!

Despite this extraordinary success, there are still massive challenges to be faced: often Prerna students are forced to get married when they return home to see their families, a common practice among their unschooled peers. Stephanie explained that while to Westerners the technically illegal practice of marrying off girls under 18 (most are married by the time they are 13) seems patently barbaric, to their parents it is doing their best to protect their daughters’ futures. Furthermore, while the Prerna girls may be getting an education, the rest of their society still sees them as inferior by virtue of both class and gender: what opportunities will they realistically have?

Lakshmi wants to be a judge, and Gunia, a teacher. Thanks to people like Sudha and Stephanie, they are far closer to those worthy goals than they ever would have been otherwise. Here’s hoping that they are the tip of a massive landslide of educated girls who fulfill the promise of the “Incredible India!” tourist billboards. Oh and hey: it only costs $200 to support one of Sudha’s students for a year. Email Stephanie if you want to help:


Hello Flo’s Unhappy Period Party

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by Madeleine


Monthly subscription period providers Hello Flo have done it again, creating yet another provocative and hilarious video about menarche, the sequel to last summer’s hit “Camp Gyno“.

For all of its gumption and hilarious one-liners, the new video also made me a bit sad. Maybe it’s because I’m still coming down from an incredible high with the successful launch of G Day on April 28th. While not explicitly a “First Moon Party”, G Day was definitely a rite of passage celebration for adolescent girls, inspired by my desire to have the specialness of menarche honoured in my own life back in the day. It was so amazing to see 250 girls together celebrating this uniquely magical time of life: watching them revel in it was one of the highlights of my life.

The Hello Flo video troubled me not so much for its problematic portrayal of mother-daughter relations, as NPR commentator Laurel Dalrymple explores in her poignant article, Meanstruation: HelloFlo’s Mother-Daughter War is Funny, and Sad (although I can absolutely see where she is coming from on that front). At the root of this, for me at least, is some resentment that the idea of a menarche celebration is being mocked, making yet another hefty contribution to the period-as-joke trope. Jokes can lead to shame, and shame is the last thing that any of us, particularly girls, need: they’re getting enough BS messages about their bodies as it is. The subtext  of the video seems to be: what could be more dreadful than your Mom organizing some form of celebration of the onset of your period?


Cycling to Grandma’s House Review & Giveaway

Tuesday, 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 to Grandma's House


My Autistic Daughter has Period Independence

Friday, February 21st, 2014 by Guest

Autism and 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 tell me about her daughter’s experience using Lunapanties. In her email, she asked me to share her daughter’s story with organizations serving autistic communities, and urges us all to work harder to “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.

Hi Lisa, I wanted to share a positive period experience with you.

My daughter started her period when she was 9 years old. She knew about the changes happening in her body and was ready when she started. We did not know about Lunapads at the time but a friend told us about them last year and guided us in our purchases.

The amazing thing about Lunapanties is that they give my daughter the independence to manage her period needs.

She has autism and has difficulty with the snaps on Lunapads. Disposable products bunch up, feel uncomfortable, and are difficult to change. Lunapanties give her the freedom to change the entire panty when needed!

Before Lunapanties, we used big girl pull-ups at night and on road trips to avoid the stress of an uncomfortable pad and spill-overs. She knew they were “like diapers” and I really couldn’t argue the point, but they did the trick. I am sure this was hard for her to come to terms with, given that she’s been using the toilet independently for many years and knows that pull ups are not typically used for periods.

I am so THANKFUL to have Lunapads and Lunapanties in our lives. She calls these her “normal” pads (versus the throwaway, disposable ones) and her younger sister already has a starter pack waiting for her for when she starts.

blackhipster2For those unfamiliar with Lunapanties; they are multi-functional, protective underwear that can be relied upon for everyday security, menstrual protection, and light bladder leakage.

All Lunapanties include a built-in cotton panel to absorb light leaks. In styles designed for moderate to heavy needs — like our MAIA Hipster, MAIA Brief, MAIA Bikini, ALEXANDRIA Hipster — we’ve added a leakproof lining and the ability to add & remove absorbent inserts as needed throughout the day. View Lunapanties

If you’re on the autism spectrum yourself and would like to write a guest blog post about your Lunapads or Lunapanties experience, we’d love to hear from you!

Curious? Need a promo code? If you haven’t used our products but are interested, please use the promo code NEW2LUNA to save 15% on  your first order with us. If you have any questions at all or need help with product choices, do not hesitate to email us at info(at) or call 1.888.590.2299.

Thanks, everyone!

Kitty’s 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4Girls

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 by Kitty

mainphotoI 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.


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.


I Met My Hero: Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Magazine

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 by Guest

rookietaviGuest Post by Alysha Seriani

A few weekends ago, I met my personal hero: Tavi Gevinson. Blogger, actor, style icon, feminist, model, singer, and founding editor‐in‐chief of — the ultimate media source aimed at teen girls that reaches much further than the target audience.

Alongside my introduction to feminism, I found Rookie in the fall of 2011. This was also the start of my last year of high school in a particularly benighted small town. Two years later, I remain an avid fan‐girl of what is surely the blueprint of a new era of feminism: one that chooses to be a drawing board rather than a rulebook.  In the past month alone, Rookie’s posts range from dealing with bullying to DIY pet photo shoots.

Whilst perusing its pages one day, I first stumbled upon Lunapads! First seen in this Just Wondering column in 2012,  I was convinced to try The DivaCup for the first time — I’ve been loving it ever since. This same article links fellow Rookie readers to, and recommends Lunapanties to the inquiring girl who may fear tampons and overnight leakage.

Best of all: using a reusable cup like this is good for the environment, and keeps money out of the big, male-run corporations that sell women tampons—corporations that put bleach in tampons, and advertisers that tell us our natural vaginas are disgusting and need to be scented with “deodorizers.”  Read Just Wondering at

With three posts every weekday and daily posts on weekends, I can hardly keep up with the endless amounts of amazing Rookie content constantly coming my way. This brings me to the manifestation of Rookie’s second annual accomplishment: Rookie Yearbook Two! Compiling the past ten months of incredible content — adding some loot such as cootie catchers, DIY shrines, and stickers galore — I was a sucker for this anthology, and pulled every string I could to get to the book launch in Seattle.


A Happy Camper

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by Sara K.

I don’t believe in regret and rarely entertain it. There was, however, one exception that was recently inspired by Hello Flo’s viral video “Camp Gyno.” It struck such a cord inside me that I couldn’t help but entertain thoughts of “what if…”

The summer I was eleven, my father sent me to camp at a ranch in the Rockies. I couldn’t have been more excited about spending my days horseback riding and evenings in a bunk with forty other girls. It was like a giant sleepover every night.

I was in heaven, until I got my period on the third day. Having only had it twice before, it was still fairly new to me and pretty unpredictable. I’d come to camp prepared with all kinds of supplies, including massive mattress-sized overnight pads, but they were no match for my flow. Within two days I’d bled through pretty much all the clothes, pyjamas and underwear I’d brought with me. Far too embarrassed to talk to any of the counselors, I kept it to myself and simply demanded to be sent home, letting them believe it was due to homesickness.

campgynosaraHow would that summer have been different, if I’d felt empowered to talk to another camper or a counselor about what I was going through? What if I’d had a Joan of Arc championing my vadge? What if I’d felt pride and not shame? What if I’d seen my period as a Red Badge of Courage?

While I do feel regret for the scared and embarrassed 11-year-old I once was, I am beyond elated that “Camp Gyno” is fostering conversations about periods. Even if just a fraction of the >5.7 million people who have viewed the clip so far go on to promote a more positive perspective of periods, we are making strides. And that makes me a happy camper!

How about you? Do you have any summer camp or first period stories to share?

Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

Friday, June 21st, 2013 by Madeleine


A beautiful report from our friends at imagine1day – wow! We are so thrilled to be able to support their amazing work building schools and empowering students in Ethiopia.

Dear Suzanne & Madeleine,

I trust that you both are well and flourishing in all that you’re up to. We continue to be buoyed by the contribution that you’re both being to the community here in Vancouver and beyond. It is truly inspirational to watch you in action!

I’m writing to give you an update on how the girls of our Graduate Fund high school scholarship program are doing, and share some great news about this year’s program.

Over the past 2 years, Lunapads has become an incredibly important partner for imagine1day in that your contribution has directly correlated to our Graduate Fund girls being able to focus on their education and thrive in the classroom without worrying about their menstrual cycle interfering. We are so happy to report that the girls of Class 2015 and 2016 are all excelling in their Grade 9 & 10 studies, with the exception of one student who has taken some time away to deal with some personal issues. That’s 41 girls in the midst of blossoming into their full leadership potential.


We have recently completed the selection process for our Class 2017 scholarship students, who will be starting their high school journey with us this September. The amazing news is that we’ve been able to increase the number of scholarships to 60 in total, 47 of which are girls. All of the students are buzzing with excitement, and are grateful for the opportunity to continue their education beyond Grade 8. 14 year old Nigisti Yisfaw (pictured below) is one of the girls who is particularly enthusiastic about her short walk to school, given the challenges she has faced in the past.


The girls will be starting school again in September this year, and we would train them to use the pads as part of the Life Skill Training we offer to help them settle into their new lives living away from their families to attend high school. These girls do not have ubiquitous access to underwear, so the kits with undies in them are ideal.

Many many thanks,

Michelle & the imagine1day team

LunaCircle with Alex Mazerolle July 2nd

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by Sara K.


Join us for an evening of inspiration and empowerment with special guest Alex Mazerolle, the founder of Girlvana Yoga. Girlvana is an initiative that supports teen girls through yoga, meditation and healthy eating.

Here’s what Alex has to say about Madeleine and Suzanne: “I lovingly refer to the ladies of Lunapads as ‘Mama Goddesses,’ paving the way for us younger generation of entrepreneurs who also care deeply about out world. I am blessed to have their support with my company Girlvana Yoga so that I can continue to educate and empower young girls.”

When: Tuesday July 2
Time: 7pm (join us at 6:30 for snacks and socializing!)
Where: Lunapads International, 3433 Commercial Street Vancouver BC (map)

Please RSVP to the Facebook Event Page

LunaCircles are events sponsored by Lunapads that create a safe space for conversation and exploration of how we connect with our fertility cycles.

In this special evening we will:

♦ Share about our personal journeys with our cycles
♦ Participate in a guided meditation
♦ Hear Alex speak about her passion for helping women model positive behaviour for the girls around them and the effects on the next generation of women coming up
♦ Learn about natural menstrual product options, including Lunapads, Lunapanties and the DivaCup (special prices will be in effect during the event!)

Blessings, and hope to see you soon!