Reflections on Chile and Staying Sane
Cassidy: Dear International Innovator,
Someone recently shared with me that they think our brand is too ‘political.’ I don’t like to dismiss criticism out of hand, but there are multiple reasons why I disagree with that. To begin with, periods are inherently political, and by seeking to change the dialogue around periods we are necessarily advocating for accessibility, equity, and policy change. In terms of our brand itself, I would respond that we are simply being honest in our writing when we share what we care about. If we are not using our brand as a platform, what are we creating, besides a hollow contribution to capitalism?
This reminds me of an article I read in the New York Times in March, entitled ‘Menstrual Pads Can’t Fix Prejudice.’ A provocative title, but in essence, it argues the point that menstrual pads can’t fix prejudice on their own. It problematizes the push for a “Western-style better living through consumption,” because more and better access to menstrual products is only so effective if it is not accompanied by education and safe, clean bathroom spaces where pads/tampons/cups can be changed. The stigma surrounding menstruation contributes to a complex problem that cannot be completely solved by a technological bandaid. If this moment of menstrual activism “is going to grow into a movement,” the author argues, “it must do more than move products. It must move minds.”
I have felt this acutely in our mission to share Chica. We steep ourselves in all things cyclical, and in surrounding myself with information and imagery about periods, it has become impossible for me to be embarrassed by it. The gag reflex is gone. This is an unusual privilege, however, and the taboo remains strong, including in high-income communities like ours where commercial period products are (mostly) the norm. In many ways, it feels like the most important and perfect time to deliver a holistic and delicious period remedy to the market, but I often wonder how much of a barrier stigmatization proves to be when it comes to investing in our product. At the very least, I think the unconscious shame and inability to talk about menstrual health makes it seem normal to view unhealthy or debilitating periods as necessary, normal, inescapable. Just part of the deal.
So when I visualize about Chica as a phenomenon, as something that extends to an international community, I must think critically about the varying levels of stigma we must encounter and deconstruct. How does the way we think about our cycle make sense within a different cultural framework? Does it make sense within our own?
My instinct is to think of Chile when I ask myself this question. While I was studying there, I witnessed a burgeoning consciousness around menstruation as the student-driven feminist movement in the metropolitan region gathered momentum. The mobilization and occupation of campuses was largely in response to sexist behavior and sexual assault within university institutions, but it also addressed issues like femicide, abortion, and hegemonic masculinity. Period imagery was utilized to criticize the silence around these issues, especially gender-based violence, with pad shaped signs dripping in red paint that called “why does this disgust you more than rape does?”
In this case, the dialogue around periods was political because it was accompanied by a political movement. To address menstruation was to challenge the silence around it and reclaim a certain body sovereignty. However, even without the context of the student protests, I was inspired to see the engagement people were seeking with their cycles, especially among the younger generations. Female entrepreneurs sew cloth pads and hold workshops to educate menstruators about bleeding and their hormonal cycles. Natural remedies–for period symptoms as well as other illnesses or states of imbalance–are abundant, due to the heritage of Mapuche medicine that is still present in modern-day pharmacies. With respect to the conversation itself, there is careful attention paid to how it becomes more complicated at intersections of sexuality, gender, indigenous heritage, and the legacy of colonization.
In sum, it was the kind of environment where Chica could flourish. We just have to figure out how to import internationally first.
P.S. Several of these sources are originally in Spanish, but they can be automatically translated by Google or found in English. Let me know if you need help finding bilingual versions!
Elise: My Future Philanthropic Queen,
This weekend, we spent our Saturday night sitting across on either end of a couch and writing down Chica's goals. In our 10 year goals, you spoke that you want Chica to have a diverse philanthropic catalog. I know you're not fucking around on this one, you have a huge heart and sharp eye for anyone you can provide comfort. We are mission focused company and I will always stand beside you to make sure that we are creating Chica in a way that betters our world. However, I struggle to rise to meet you this week. Mission can be an inspiring motivator, but it can't do much if we don't have a solid company making up the base. This week, the only way I will find comfort is by immersing myself in sales and analytics. I'm focusing on how to make Chica last long enough to meet our 10 year goals.
That being said, I know your head is not lost in the clouds. Thank you for working with me on email campaigns, truffle making, and graphic design for 30 hours this weekend. I couldn't do all the earthly tasks without you. Let's get shit done!