Tampons are getting a makeover, moving from unmentionable hygienic necessity to celebrated cool-girl staple.
Earlier this year, pop star Charli XCX told the press she wanted to sell tampons emblazoned with “PERIODS ARE PUNK” as tour merch. Sadly, her Riot Grrrl dreams were shattered by health codes, but her vision is consistent with a larger shift in the feminine care industry: tampons are getting a makeover, moving from an unmentionable hygienic necessity concealed under the sink to a cool-girl staple celebrated in art, fashion, and pop culture.
While mega-brands Tampax, Kotex and Playtex have long dominated the tampon industry, direct-to-consumer newcomer LOLA, founded by Dartmouth grads Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman, represents a new approach. LOLA manufactures its own 100% hypoallergenic cotton tampons refreshingly free of additives, synthetics, chemicals and dyes. Unlike mainstream brands, which use artificial mystery fibers including polyester and rayon, LOLA is committed to transparency and convenience. Other features include minimalist branding and an intuitive subscription model with options for delivery customization.
LOLA arrives at a time when uncensored, unairbrushed femaleness, and menstruation in particular, is becoming something to revel in, rather than hide. “We wanted something that would resonate with a woman who isn’t embarrassed about having her period,” says Jordana Kier. “With LOLA, you can leave the box on your shelf or side table without feeling uncomfortable if someone were to see it.”
In summer 2015, artist Rupi Kaur fought Instagram and won when the company tried to censor a photo of menstrual blood showing through her sweatpants. On Twitter, women have been using the hashtag #LiveTweetYourPeriod to de-stigmatize the monthly struggle that is being a woman. Journalist Jenna Wortham backs this trend, writing, “Social media is saturated with images of hypersexualized women, but these are rarely considered as scandalous as content that dares to reveal how a woman’s body actually functions.”
One thing is for certain: women are actively seeking alternatives to tampon heavy-hitters. And more and more they are considering intelligent branding, sophisticated aesthetics, and relatable language in these personal choices. In feminine care as in so much else, women are refusing to accept the cultural stigmas passed down to them, and brands need to rethink their strategy as a result.