The day I first got my period 10 years ago, I was filled with dread. Already feeling like a stranger in my own female-assigned body at that age, I cringed at the thought of adopting yet another feminine characteristic and falling face-first into pink & flowery feminine hygiene products. This was before Thinx underwear came into existence, changing the way I view menstruation maintenance indefinitely.
I hate feminine hygiene products for a lot of reasons. Pads are itchy and uncomfortable to me, but alternatives like tampons and cups aren't feasible for me either due to my vaginismus. The products are often scented, which seems to suggest that my fully-functioning self-cleaning vagina needs to smell like flowers in order to stay sexy while on my period.
And then there's the packaging and the ads. Boxes of tampons and pads are often seen decked out in pinkish hues, sparkles, flowers, and sometimes other female imagery. The majority of ads feature all feminine-presenting cis women dancing around in heels and a skirt, unhindered by the burden of worrisome leaks thanks to their trusty life-altering tampons. Not only does this sugarcoating seem nonsensical to me, but the hyperfeminine imagery associated with these hygiene products makes periods seem inherently feminine. Therefore, I'm made to feel at odds with my genderqueer body and monthly cycle as I change my flower-adorned pad at the end of the day.
It's difficult to feel at peace in your gender nonconforming or trans body when the hygiene products that need to buy for your period are always marked as feminine. But the reality is that not only women get their periods. Men and gender nonconforming people get them too. And so the products produced for periods should reflect that diversity, and include all humans with bleeding vaginas. That's why I love Thinx's period panties. Their period-proof underwear provides a practical and comfortable alternative to tampons and pads, and is made very much with gender neutrality in mind. The company's ads don't feature flowers, pink, or dancing — just people with periods in a range of underwear styles fit for any person.
My deep love for these ads can be summed up with the image of a trans man, model Sawyer DeVuyst, rocking Thinx undies in a myriad of geometric positions. In fact, Thinx is the first brand to use a trans man in period ads, a feat that is impressive, but also a long time coming since many trans men have been getting their period for years. This shift in perspective comes as a huge relief to gender nonconforming and trans people like me. Finally, we have period products that don't talk down to our identities, but rather include us in the culture of periods without trying to feminize us. Thinx is setting the precedent that it's time to stop excluding non-women from the conversation about their own menstruation health.
Whenever I frequent the Union Square area, where the majority of these lovely Thinx ads reside in New York City, I am reminded again and again by the images of DeVuyst that having a period doesn't make me a woman against my will. Merely seeing these ads on the daily has been enough to benefit my own journey with body positivity, as I continue to make amends between my period and my gender identity. Thinx demonstrates that men and gender nonconforming people get their periods too, and that they deserve be represented in these ads. Between viewing the subway ads and trying the panties for myself, Thinx has really reformed the way I see my period. Previously, buying pads at the local drugstore felt feminizing and dysphoric, alerting everyone around me I was a woman with a period. And because of that dysphoria, I learned to hate my period since it seemed to be the one time a month I was forced to be a woman.
But with Thinx, I can be myself. Without any gender-specific designs and a completely neutral-feeling shopping experience thanks to the diversity in their models, I feel close to my gender identity as I prance around in my absorbent and super comfy period-proof underwear set. I'm not forced to buy something that is made to target cis women specifically. I no longer have to be at war with myself, claiming my period as wholly mine and as ungendered as my gender identity. And without the itch of a pad, the comfortable panties help me easily forget that I'm even on my period on days when I'm feeling much more masculine. To me, period blood feels like a violent rebellion against my true identity, an identity that on some days totally doesn't match my body. But in my black Thinx undies, I can choose to forget. Besides the fact that the product's lack of bulk and irritants helps my period slip my mind, the dark panties often makes it difficult for me to make out any blood stains. It's a gender nonconforming person's dream come true.
Essentially, Thinx has changed the way I have my period, and helps makes my bodily functions less painful without the forced inclusion of a hyper feminine gender that just simply doesn't reflect who I am. This brand is truly for everyone.
Images: Meg Zulch