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No More Week Of Shame. Period.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Month after month, it gets more difficult to pick underwear from the pile of period panties that you have stored for that time of the month. But, what if there was a better alternative? Pooja Salvi speaks to Miki Agrawal, a New York-based social entrepreneur and the creator of THINX, to find out more about her project

Why did you think creating this type of underwear was necessary?
A large number of women suffer from anxiety during their period, because they are afraid of leaking through their tampon/pad. We wanted to create underwear that actually supported women during that time of the month. Personally, I have had mishaps where I have had to rush home to change my clothes in the middle of the day, which began to get incredibly annoying! The last straw was when Radha, my twin sister, and I were defending our three-legged race title at our family barbecue, called Agra-palooza, and Radha got her period in the middle of the race. We had to rush to the bathroom so she could change her bathing suit bottom — while still tied to each other for the game! That’s when this idea struck us.

As it says on your website, THINX was under construction for three years. We read that the technology is fairly high tech. What was the developmental process like for you?
It was very challenging. We had to figure out how to make it anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, leak and stain resistant as well as absorbent, which would be perfectly suited to the most sensitive part of a woman’s body. Whenever we thought we finally had created a worthy product, we would put it through the laundry and often, the layers would shrink at different levels, making the underwear buckle. So, we had to go back a few steps to find the right material. It was a three-and-a-half-year long process of trial and error.

Even a number of years into the advent of technology, our country still lacks a system where sanitation and sanitary products for women are satisfactory — what do you think about that?
It outrages me! The tampon was invented in 1931 (by a man!), and it hasn’t changed since. The latest innovation in sanitary napkins was the introduction of the adhesive strip underneath the pad to prevent it from moving. Before that, women had to use menstrual belts, clips and pins to hold it in place. The fact that there haven’t been any major changes in nearly 50 years is because the subject is considered taboo. We aim to break this taboo as well as bring about innovations  in this sector.

Your parents are of Indian origin. Did they have conservative views about menstruation? Like many others who believe in the superstitions surrounding periods would, did they impose any on you?
No! My parents actually didn’t teach me about my period; my teachers and sister did. In India, my father grew up with his mother who wouldn’t enter the kitchen when she was on her period. So, my dad never really talked about this with us.

Did you have to deal with any controversial/conservative comments?
Not really. My sister and I became feminists at a young age. My dad was outnumbered by four women in the house — he was quick to learn!

Considering the climatic conditions in India, will the durability of the product be affected or compromised?
Since the innermost layer is moisture-wicking, it will actually keep Indian women drier and cooler!

Tell us more about your partnership with AFRIpads.
Giveback is an integral part of our business, and it has been in place from day one — even before that, actually!

I did a lot of research on a number of organisations to find the appropriate partner and fell in love with the model of AFRIpads. It empowers local women and girls in a big way. I visited Uganda earlier this year and interacted with women who sew, sell or use the menstrual kits that we fund. It’s no exaggeration when they tell us that their lives have changed. The rate of attendance in schools just skyrockets when they have access to the materials that they need, and the women that AFRIpads employs now have sustainable careers. The entire system is fantastic!

Is the product available for every woman out there, irrespective of her size and preference?
Absolutely, our product comes in sizes from XS and going right up to XXL, in comfortable styles and colours.

For how long can one piece of the THINX underwear work, provided that it is properly taken care of?
The technology lasts in full effect for 25-30 washes, which is approximately two years of you using them monthly, provided you care for them properly every month. You have to rinse or cold wash them, avoid using fabric softener/bleach and hang them dry. I still have the prototypes from over three years ago, which continue to work like a charm!

When do you plan on making THINX available in stores?
When we can create our own micro-store — a store within a store.

Get Your Own!
While THINX is not available in stores at the moment, you can pick it up for `1,840 (with free shipping) from www.shethinx.com

Explaining THINX
The patented technology (called THINX QuadTECH®) is made of four ultra-thin micro-layers that work together to provide you with comfort. The technology took over three years to develop. This ensures that each and every piece is completely antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, leak-resistant and absorbent. Some wear THINX on its own, but no one knows your flow better than you. So, choose accordingly!

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