A year into LENA's life, we couldn’t be happier to have been welcomed so openly by the reusable menstrual product community.
Together, amongst our peers, we have been able to contribute, but also grow. We have counted on the support of our fellow menstrual advocates and through this have been able to influence more women than we ever could have imagined.
To celebrate this wonderful community, we reached out to our friends at Put A Cup In It – a platform that aims to spread the word and advocate for reusable menstrual products. Kim and Amanda have influenced the lives of many and we wanted to hear more from the #Vagangelists themselves about menstruation and the menstrual community.
Q: What does menstruation mean to you and why were you specifically drawn to the topic?
A: We both consider menstruation an important part of a one’s life, but it shouldn’t interfere with quality of life. A healthy menstruator shouldn’t be held back by a period or the hygiene of it. We both realized how undereducated we were as young women and ultimately young adults, so when we learned about cups it took us both a little bit to come around to the idea. Once we tried a cup we realized how life-changing menstrual they are and we wanted to use our online platforms to spread the word and help to educate others.
Q: What inspired you to start Put A Cup In It and what do you aim to achieve with this platform?
A: Before we began Put A Cup In It last year both of us had our own blogs — Amanda’s blog focused on natural parenting, as did Kim’s. In years past we both covered the topic of cups. Kim had made a few very popular videos on the subject and Amanda’s comparison chart was also very popular. We work well together and have so much fun on collaborative projects. Put A Cup In It was a way we both could use our skills (Kim does video editing/filming/photography and Amanda does graphic design/illustration/photography) to further educate the public on menstruation and reusable hygiene products with our humorous twist.
What is the most rewarding part of working on Put A Cup In It?
We’ve had a direct hand in countless people making the switch. Not only that, but we have also coached people online and in person in order to troubleshoot and solve problems that kept them from switching, or that had kept them from being successful when initially trying to switch. We get a lot of messages or people coming up to us telling us how we helped them and how their quality of life has improved. That’s pretty fucking awesome.
Q: How has your role in the reusable menstrual community influenced your life?
A: Put A Cup In It and our growing roles in the menstrual community are fairly new to both of us. We were both big parts of the cloth diaper community (and still are) and that is what brought us together as friends and shaped our online families. We are both looking forward to seeing how the menstrual community comes into play. We have already met so many people on our first PACII Roadshow (our educational touring sessions) that embraced us, which was really special and an eye opening experience for us.
Q: What are your thoughts on the menstrual taboo? Do you ever worry about the perception people may have of your openness regarding menstruation?
A: 5 or so years ago when we both began discussing using menstrual cups on our respective websites we had the same internal dialogue, Should we hit publish? What will our readers think about such a taboo topic? Will we lose subscribers? Will people think we are weird or gross? Will our advertisers drop us? None of those things happened, of course, but discussing menstruation wasn’t as mainstream as it has become in the last 1.5 years. In our real lives it’s been a bit different. We have to judge our audience before letting people know what we do for work, sometimes people surprise us with their thoughtful responses.
Q: Can you say a few words about the menstrual community? What do you think of the importance of cooperation and collaborations like Bree x LENA within the community?
A: This community is made up of some of the most amazing people. To be so passionate about this topic takes a special person, and one with a sense of humor. We’ve found cup and cloth users who are active in the community to be the best kind of people. Bree has a devoted audience and has been instrumental in helping an untold number of people switch to reusables. To see a brand honor and value her contribution in this way is really exciting.
Q: 2015 was named the “Year of the Period” and even in the past year, LENA has witnessed so much positive change with regards to the menstrual taboo. How have you seen the menstrual community evolve throughout the past year(s)?
A: It’s been a definite shift in attitude towards the discussion of menstruation. Mainstream media has finally recognized that menstruation is a topic that needs discussing, along with the attitudes about menstruation. Even legislation is now recognizing that menstruation matters. Hopefully we see more and more in the coming years.
Q: Where do you see the importance of menstruation in 5 years? How about 50 years?
A: Menstruation has always been important, but we do hope to see our education system evolve in a way that all students are taught the core principles and given a better look at their options regarding menstrual products. And it’s not just about menstruation, but we’d like to see more taught about normal anatomy as well. Discharge is suddenly a topic in our community and is spreading to mainstream websites like BuzzFeed. We had a great discussion on this topic on our Facebook page and it was frightening the misinformation we were all taught as preteens and teens about discharge — and, in many cases, not taught anything at all. It’s sad to realize there are young people who believe they are diseased, gross, dirty, being sexually inappropriate, or worse just because of discharge. And of course we still see people who don’t even know that females have 3 holes.
Q: What steps can we all take to move towards this positive future without a menstrual taboo? How can we get involved in the efforts of Put A Cup In It?
A: Just keep talking and sharing! The revolution spreads most effectively through word of mouth. #Vagangelists, as we like to call them, are out there being bold and brave. They’re discussing their menstrual health and hygiene with their family and friends. We will keep seeing more and more change and acceptance as we talk more about it without a hint of shame. Humor is how we personally like to break the ice and make others comfortable with the subject. This year our goal is to create more high quality video content and continue our tour in more cities. We are looking to set up a Patreon account since our videos are higher budget than most — we live in different states and have to travel to create content together. We also aim to collaborate with others on some of our videos, which is really exciting.
We’d like to thank Kim and Amanda for being such an amazing part of the reusable menstrual product community and for encouraging women to speak out about the topic. Keep an eye out on LENA and PACII’s social platforms for a Bree x LENA giveaway coming soon!