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Rupi Kaur menstruation photography Instagram censorship
Rupi Kaur

Periods are nothing to be ashamed of, says teen wellness brand Blume

TextAlex Peters

Blume is the brand working to de-stigmatise menstruation and equip girls with everything they need to survive puberty

Periods have long been taboo. An ancient Nepalese tradition, for example, banished women who were menstruating to small animal sheds and forbid them from entering homes and temples and from touching men, cattle and some foods. It was believed that if women did not sleep in the huts, bad luck would be bestowed upon their family. Nepal criminalised this practice, known as chhaupadi, last August. 

Today – with images of menstruation being censored on Instagram, the ongoing tampon tax, and presidents using it as an insult against women - periods are still being stigmatized. This is something Blume is trying to change, however. Launched in 2015, Blume’s ambition is to shift the narrative surrounding periods and menstruation. As well as offering a cohesive range of products to cover all experiences of puberty – deodorant, tampons, acne treatment – all of which are sustainable and organic, Blume’s digital platform, Blume University, aims to educate girls about their bodies and their health. “We’re creating a community that focuses on this life stage and validating an often ignored and shamed life experience,” the team tell us. “Periods are not something to be ashamed of and they definitely aren’t the ubiquitous blue liquid that is often seen in advertising.” We talked to Blume about how social media is affecting our self-esteem, their efforts towards gender inclusivity and PMS oil.

Tell us about Blume
Blume: Blume comes from the word bloom - a healthy, flourishing condition. To Blume is to grow. This is what we’re all about — creating a new generation of thriving, confident, informed young women who are eager to become the very best version of themselves. We want Blume to be a brand that girls can grow up with. A brand that sets a new standard for traditionally painful life experiences.

How has it evolved?
Blume: We launched Blume in 2015 with four products: Hug Me (natural deodorant that works), Meltdown (natural blemish treatment), Cloud 9 (PMS oil), and Daydreamer (gentle organic face wash). Through our products, we have been able to make the transition into clean beauty easy and effective. The Blume Community continues to grow, we are currently in the middle of our Women’s March Campaign. We partnered with an illustrator to create some beautiful visuals. For each repost, we will be donating proceeds to the charity Days for Girls, which provides sustainable menstrual health care to those who need it most.

Why was it important for you to have the educational aspect of the brand with “Blume University”?
Blume: We started thinking about what girls need when they first get their period. We did research on what’s available on the market now and read books that encouraged parents to bring up puberty when the lights are dim or when their daughter is in the back of the seat to avoid eye contact and make it less awkward. We aimed to change that, so we created our own first-period guide that includes: education, diagrams, mindfulness and exercises. Blume University is our blog that features articles and videos that discuss bodies, puberty, health and wellness in a conversational way. We want this information to be medically solid and approachable.

What were you responding to when you founded Blume? What did you feel other brands were lacking?
Blume: There has never been a comprehensive wellness line for teens. We offer products like deodorant that is free of parabens and aluminium and a blemish treatment that doesn’t make your skin peel — products that we didn’t have, but wish we did. Even more important than the products alone is the fact that we're creating a community that focuses on this life stage. We're validating an often ignored and shamed life experience.

Why do you think there is a stigma around periods?
Blume: The stigma and taboo about periods starts early. Girls are taught to be ashamed of their bodies before even learning about them. We think this has a lot to do with the lack of education and resources that are available to these girls. Large brands also contribute to this stigma with their messaging that encourages females to hide menstruation. Periods are not something to be ashamed of and they definitely aren’t the ubiquitous blue liquid that is often seen in advertisements.

What do you see as the relationship between women’s periods and their self-esteem?
Blume: We surveyed 1,000 girls and women in the Blume community to learn about their experiences with periods and puberty. We found that 60% said their self-esteem plummeted or lessened around puberty, while 63% felt embarrassed when they got their first period.

Our survey reflects the existing research available as well - girls are not receiving adequate information about their bodies, whether that be about their periods, anatomy, or sexual health. We think these numbers can be improved with the right products, the proper messaging and most importantly, inclusive education.

Some people view self-care as a feminist act, do you agree with this?
Blume: Although we've been conditioned to believe that a good woman takes care of others and that women often feel guilty about focusing on their health and wellness, self-care is something that is universal and inclusive. Everyone deserves to spend time meeting their own needs and putting themselves first.

Tell us about the PMS oil. How did you come up with the idea and how does it work?
Blume: We asked our community what products they wanted to see more of, what scents were their favourite, what made them feel their best. More importantly, we asked what was missing in their feel-good routine. That’s when we introduced Cloud 9, our all natural PMS oil. Very briefly, the ingredients in Cloud 9, such as Clary Sage and other essential oils help soothe cramps, bloating and headaches by regulating hormones. For a full break down visit our blog post.

Periods are traditionally framed as a cis woman’s issue, what efforts are you making to include trans men and women?
Blume: Everyone is welcome to our self-care party! We intentionally chose products that are gender neutral and continue to promote inclusivity. We also have a First Period Guide that is geared towards all menstruators.

How has technology affected the way women approach their periods?
Blume: There are a bunch of great apps that can track your period cycle, which makes staying on top of your health and getting to know your body, a bit easier. They come in handy and also provide a great education.

Why do you think we are culturally becoming more open to talking about periods, especially in relation to women’s mental health, wellness, self-esteem?
Blume: That’s exactly the answer, the more people there are talking openly about periods, the better the discussion gets, the closer we come to eliminating the stigma. This topic should have never been silenced in the first place! Women are becoming more empowered and comfortable in their own bodies. We’re proud to be a part of this revolution. We believe bringing awareness and providing more education on menstrual hygiene and overall self-care is key.

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