Monday, November 28, 2022

No More First Period Horror Stories! Why AWWA Is Helping Get Rid Of First Period Panic

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We’ve all got one – but a first period horror story is not a rite of passage that Kiwi brand AWWA wants the younger generation to endure, which is why they’ve created ‘My First Period’ kits to help young people both celebrate and be prepared for menstruation. We chat to AWWA co-founder Michele Wilson on why this is important… and share some first period horror stories from the Capsule community.

Capsule x AWWA

Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I had attended the mildly terrifying Sex Ed/’Your Body Is Changing Talk’, I had read a sanitary pad pamphlet that got passed around my primary school like enemy propaganda: I had the same rough draft available to all other young people in the 1990s about what to expect from your first period.

So when it turned up when I was 10 – yes, TEN YEARS OLD – you might be surprised to know I a) initially thought my vagina was rusting and b) went into a shame spiral where I didn’t tell my mother until days in, by which time I had gone through ‘preparation kit’ that had come with my favourite teen magazine. All of the sanitary pads in that pack were for ‘light flow’, a cosmic joke for the Biblical flood I was newly in charge of.

Forever linked with my first period.

On day three of what I realised was my first period, I was watching Anna Paquin’s wonderful movie Fly Away Home at the cinema, in an absolute panic about what was happening to my sore, bleeding body. There’s a reason why, 27 years later, Anna Paquin, geese and periods are all inextricably linked to me. But this is just MY first period horror story – Lord knows, you probably have your own.

‘My First Period’ Horror Stories

We put a call-out on our Instagram for more first period horror stories and boy, did you deliver. Here are some highlights/lowlights:

– ‘I had a period disaster on a sleepover on my friend’s spare mattress and lied to her mother that it was ketchup.’

– ‘I was handed a tampon with no explanation or information pamphlet.’

– ‘My sister announced at the dorm room table that my period had arrived.’

– ‘My period arrived at the start of a school field trip and the teacher insisting on driving me separately, while the rest of the class took the bus.’

– ‘I was 10 and didn’t know what it was. My mum was out so my 18 year old brother helped find a pad.’

– ‘On the beach, in a pair of pale blue togs, whilst on a school picnic day out. Mortifying!’

‘Periods are a time of autonomy… a sacred part of the month’

Kiwi period product company AWWA is set to change both the attitude around getting a first period and also the practical part as well: they believe that the first ikura should be celebrated and welcomed, as well as planned for, so they have created ‘My First Period’ kits to help young people step into this new chapter of their life. We talk to AWWA co-founder Michele Wilson on the creation of these kits and why they’re so important.

AWWA’s My First Period Kit

What was the thought process behind creating My First Period kit?
As a mother of an almost 11-year-old, I wanted a special gift for her – I wanted her to feel tapu and be celebrated the way our tupuna celebrated their tamāhine. For most kura, the period talk doesn’t happen until intermediate or even first year of high school, but studies show our children can start their period anywhere from eight years old onwards. My First Period Kits bridge that gap and provide you everything you need to have this kõrero one-on-one ahead of time, making the experience easier & special for both parents or guardians and their child. It also prepares the child, by being able to have period undies stored discretely inside our wet bag in their backpack, so no matter when it comes, they are confident and sorted.

Why was it important to create something practical but also celebratory?
Our Māori tupuna (ancestors) celebrated this coming of age with gifts & ceremony, our period kits are our interpretation of this for a modern world. Tweens & teenagers’ lives are more complicated than they were for us, so they need something easy and practical, The first period kits come with 3-4 pairs of period underwear, which should last them their full cycle.

We also have a handy booklet that has easy, bite-sized information about what to expect on their period which will also help you kick start the conversation around menstruation. There’s a wet bag, which they can take to school and change their AWWA to ensure they stay fresh all day and some beautiful gifts like a mini hot water bottle, chocolate and surprises that we add in from friends of the brand. Currently our launch promo includes a face wash, moisturiser and face mist, facemask, and sugar scrub.

The language that AWWA uses around period is fun, warm and inclusive. No scary chat here! Why is that so important?
Periods are not scary – period companies and men have done a pretty amazing job of engraining in us that periods are scary, embarrassing, a hassle.  None of which is true.  Periods are a time of autonomy – those having them can and should choose what they do with their time and body during this sacred part of the month. Often that means rest, but for some it could mean being more active… it’s about choice. But it’s about nourishment towards your whole self  – hinengaro, tinana, wairua – so it’s important to me that our language reflects this.

What do you hope for the next generation of menstruating young people and how is AWWA helping to make that happen?
I hope that the next generation see taking time out during their period as the norm – time to relax, read, nourish themselves, plan their futures, see other family members nurture them, time out from house work. I want them to see this time as their special time, a time that they look forward to instead of dreading. AWWA is doing this by giving them beautiful comfortable underwear to manage their period and showing them how they can connect with their environment, whether that be by encouraging tracking their cycles with the maramataka, or taking a bath, or returning their blood to earth or simply sharing karakia that they may use to help empower them during their time.

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