A Canadian company has found a unique way to fight the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Blume is a self-care brand catered to teen girls trying to navigate the overwhelming experience of their first periods. Their collection of products, which range from puberty essentials (tampons, pads and deodorant) to self-care items (face wash and essential oils for PMS), can be purchased individually or in a monthly subscription box.
The idea is to help young girls feel comfortable about their periods and their bodies during this time of transition by encouraging them to think of their monthly visitor as a time for self-care.
Blume founders and sisters Taran and Bunny Ghatrora, from Surrey, British Columbia, created the brand after noticing the shame and embarrassment many girls feel about getting their periods.
"Why is the way the world treats periods so weird, maybe even wrong?" they wrote on their site. "Is the silent treatment society gives periods and puberty somehow connected to the shame girls grow up feeling about their bodies?"
Girls are often taught to hide their periods, and menstrual hygiene products aren't always accessible. These factors and more add to the stigma surrounding menstruation.
As youth advocate Amy Bing of Plan International Canada previously explained to HuffPost: "Too often, menstruation is treated like a secret that can only be talked about among women and girls, behind closed doors — if at all."
That's why the Ghartrora sisters decided to create a company to change this.
Blume is an evolution of the sisters' original company Ellebox, a pad and tampon subscription service that was launched in 2016.
While running their first company, Taran and Bunny conducted a survey of 1,000 customers and found that 68 percent of teens felt unprepared for their first period and that 60 percent experienced a "plummet" in self-esteem during puberty.
The survey results are similar to findings reported by the Canadian Women's Foundation (CWF), which found that girls' self-esteem plummets between the ages of nine and 13. More specifically, the CWF reports that 36 percent of Grade 6 girls say they are self-confident, compared to only 14 percent of Grade 10 girls.
These findings helped fuel the sisters' mission to combat the period taboo. In addition to their menstrual hygiene products, Blume will also launch an educational platform on YouTube called Blume University, Fast Company reports.
The series of videos will focus on puberty and women's health, and cover topics such as what to expect on your first visit to the gynaecologist.
This educational component is another idea the sisters brought over from their first company, as they found it really helped open up the conversation about periods and puberty among teens and parents.
Speaking about Ellebox, Taran told Bustle, "We started to see this pattern of many, many parents reaching out to us, saying [that] having this monthly box — which, at the time, had both pads and tampons and self-care gifts — really changed their relationship with their daughters in terms of talking about their periods. For the first time, their daughters really talked about their periods with pride."
Blume is specifically catered to Gen Z, with products designed with minimalist packaging to appeal to customers as they get older and continue to use the items.
"Periods and puberty should never affect potential," Blume's website reads.
Now that's a statement we can get behind.
HuffPost spoke to Blume co-founder Taran Ghatrora about why fighting the stigma of periods is so important to her and her sister, Bunny.
"It's so important to us because we're taught to be ashamed about our bodies before we know anything about them," Taran said in an email. "Being comfortable with and proud of your body helps prevent against thinking that it's acceptable for it to be treated poorly — which happens to far too many women. The more we shame women's bodies, the less respect they'll demand for themselves, which is a very slippery slope."
"We want to be sure that confidence and self-respect start as early as possible. It's a lot easier to teach this from the get-go than to try and reverse harmful thoughts once they've set in."
So far, Taran says the response Blume has received has been "great."
"The most gratifying response has been that parents and daughters are able to have an open conversation about navigating the experience of going through puberty and first periods," she said.
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