Many women suffer at menstruation time, and not only because of the pain of periods themselves. There's always a chance of an embarrassing leak or visible stain (apparently).
"Every human being I know who is a female has forgotten to change their tampon or pad some time and stained or leaked," says Miki Agrawal, one of three founders of Thinx, a new underwear brand that hopes to help. "They've gotten up from a white chair, and there's a red stain there. Things like that happen every single day to millions of girls around the world."
Thinx, which just won the $25,000 first prize at the CROWDFUNDx NYC Challenge, has developed underwear that is stain and leak resistant—and yet still comes off as sexy and desirable. This isn't miserable diaper-wear, Agrawal explains.
There are four styles at the moment, ranging from a classic thong ($22) to a lacy Luxe option ($47). The material is made in three layers: an inner moisture-wicking lining, a middle absorbing fabric (capable of holding six teaspoons of liquid), and a final leak-proof cover.
Thinx raised more than $100,000 through Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and expects to send out its first shipment this September. Agrawal says the extra $25K will probably go to buying more stock.
Thinx isn't just another prettifying brand, though. It also wants to help girls for whom menstruation is more than just an inconvenience. Agrawal says up to 100 million girls worldwide bleed each month without easy ways to control the flow. They make do with what rags, leaves, twigs (and so on) are at hand, and often stay home for fear of going out.
In India, Agrawal met a girl who was missing school because it was her "week of shame." "She stays at home so she doesn't have the embarrassment of having blood running down her leg," Agrawal says. Multiply that experience by 100 million and you have another reason why girls don't achieve the same education level of boys, and why economic development often suffers.
Thinx plans to send a portion of its revenue to AfriPads, a for-profit based in Uganda that distributes washable sanitary pads. Agrawal says the donation will be enough to buy seven pads for every piece of underwear sold here. Buy some undies in America, and you can do a lot for a girl someplace else.