Black History Month: Influential Black Menstruators
Written by Cinestie Olson
Every year, February is recognized worldwide as Black History Month. Without the Black community and culture, industries like music, literature, politics, period care, and so much more would not be what it is today!
Mary Beatrice Kenner was a Black woman and pioneer, inventing the original “sanitary belt”. Kenner found a way to make periods easier for menstruators during the 1900s and has helped pave the way for period care all over the world! Continue reading to celebrate Black menstruators and Black-owned businesses that have changed the period care world.
#PeriodPositive Black Influencers
Candice Chirwa is an activist based in South Africa. She is known as the ‘Minister of Menstruation’ as she is striving to help end period poverty and eliminate the taboos and stigmas surrounding menstruation. Chirwa started her own non-profit in 2018, called QRATE, which serves young communities in South Africa! She is also the author of Flow: The Book about Menstruation, which is a book that educates and empowers menstruators everywhere!
Lolo Cynthia is a Nigerian influencer who empowers communities through sexual education and menstrual health advocacy. In a campaign called NoDaysOff, Cynthia helped distribute over 1,000 pads to menstruators in Lagos, however, it was apparent that menstruators needed a more sustainable option to manage their periods. She taught these menstruators how to make their own reusable pads, while helping eliminate the stigma of reusable period products!
Milcah Hadida is a menstrual hygiene ambassador combating period poverty in rural Kenya. Hadida collects period products by donors and gives them to menstruators who lack access, all on a bicycle! In just 5 months, Hadida has been able to reach over 2,300 menstruators. She has received the Florence Nightingale Medal, which recognizes extraordinary service in the public health and nursing world.
Black-Owned Period Care Businesses
The Honey Pot Company was founded by Bea Dixon, whose vaginal care vision came from a dream! Along with vaginal care, like vitamins, washes, and so much more, The Honey Pot Company sells 100% organic pads, tampons, and period cups (with the cutest packaging)! Every HPC product is naturally derived from plants and is clinically tested. Bea Dixon’s company has been extremely successful since the launch in 2014. P.S., you can find HPC products in your local Target!
Femi Secrets was founded by Davielle Jackson, after her friend was dealing with a heavy flow and constant leakage. After dedicating herself to find a better solution, she founded the Pretty Panty - reusable period underwear (that is incredibly stylish)! Femi Secrets also has 100% leak proof pads, liners, and subscription boxes!
Ruby Love, founded by Crystal Etienne, is an innovative clothing company that allows menstruators to wear what they want and not worry about leakage on their period. Ruby Love sells leak proof swimsuits, activewear, underwear, and athletic clothing!
Black Menstruators Need More Support
Period poverty and stigmas affect menstruators daily, however, the Black community is disproportionately affected by these issues. According to A. Rochuan Meadows-Fernandez at TeenVogue, menstruation isn’t something that is typically celebrated in the Black community. This is due to Black women and menstruators being at the intersection of racism and gender oppression - which leads to feeling shame about their body and hair. The media primarily showing cisgender white women as the face of menstruators in advertisements doesn’t help either! Marginalized communities, such as Black, Latinx, Asian, trans, and disabled menstruators are rarely shown.
“Black women have historically believed ourselves to be 'wrong,' whether about our bodies or our hair. Our experience amongst an Anglo majority has given us deep-seated issues with the ways we show up in the world. And so, it is a natural progression for us to not have healthy relationships with our bodily processes, namely menstruation,” - Cece Jones-Davis, Menstrual Advocate
Black menstruators represent 22.3% of the population experiencing period poverty, while only making up nearly 13% of the entire U.S. population. Additionally, Black women and menstruators make 12% less than white women and menstruators. The luxury tax on period products is still very expensive and affects everyone, but especially communities with a lower income. When you consider these stats, Black menstruators are more likely to struggle to find affordable and hygienic period products, as well as the support needed in eliminating period stigma!