Wellness

These Four Dads Are Eliminating the Stigma Around Menstruation

They founded The Penny Pack, a practical period guide, which launched yesterday on Menstrual Hygiene Day. It aims to empower young girls and open up conversations around periods.


period guide

Photo provided

Fellow ladies, when you think back to your first period what comes to mind? If you’re anything like me your skin probably crawls a bit as you remember how awkward, embarrassed, and confused you were. Which is weird, right? Why do we all collectively feel these things around something so natural? Well, because of the underlying stigma surrounding menstruation.

The Penny Pack, a practical period guide, wants to eliminate the stigma around menstruation by changing the way we talk about periods. It was founded in Hopkinton by four dads of daughters—Peter Thomas, Chuck Holden, Bill Cooper, and Nick Balster—and officially launched yesterday on Menstrual Hygiene Day.

“This whole thing started out as a conversation I had with my wife as we were thinking about our two daughters,” Thomas tells me. “We were wondering why there wasn’t anything out there to guide the conversation, surrounding periods, and a way for dads to get involved too.” Sure, there are school resources and other books and literature but the Penny Pack is a little different.

Thomas tells me it’s meant to be a gift. When a girl is 10 years old, he explains that the idea is for parents or guardians to gift the Penny Pack to her (which comes individualized with her name and a hand-written note from the giver) as a way to open up the conversation around her changing body. For four dads with no experience in the nuance of a woman’s body they were guided by the Girlologists, Melisa Holmes and Trish Hutchison who are pediatricians and founders of the puberty class Girlology, to fill the box with useful resources.

Inside, girls will find two books. One is an educational book written by the Girlologists complete with tips and advice. The other is a guide to all the burning questions a young girl might have about her first period written by Thomas’s own daughter, and edited by a pediatrician. There is also a lightweight denim clutch filled with 100 percent organic cotton tampons and pads and access to the Penny Pack app, which has even more virtual resources and tools.

“We wanted everything in the box to be super candid and practical,” Thomas says. “We’re not using euphemisms or calling it anything other than what it is because we want to end the stigma around periods. Everyone in the world is affected by them and more than half of the world’s population is directly affected by them. It’s always awkward and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Going one step further, they want boys and men to feel more comfortable about periods too. “It’s an opportunity for us to have this conversation with young boys to raise compassionate and caring boyfriends and husbands,” Thomas says. “Because how many times does a girl slide a tampon up her sleeve to go to the bathroom? Or hesitate to tell a coach she can’t practice because of cramps?” The answer is far too often and in order to create change in one sector you need to get everyone on board.

And for all the women who have horror stories and ill feelings toward their own first period, this is an opportunity to empower the next generation. Because no one should feel ashamed of their period. Period.

The Penny Pack can be ordered online for $29.99 (price includes personalization) online at thepennypack.com