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women wearing period underwear

Most of us groan out loud when we get our period. But one woman is encouraging us to embrace our menstrual cycles by using the time to slow down and reconnect with our bodies. CEO and co-founder of AWWA period underwear, Michele Wilson, talks to Lifestyle News about why women should foster a deeper connection with their bodies and cycles.

Q: How can women be proud of their menstrual flow?

A: We can be proud of our flow by connecting to it the way our ancestors did.

The way we view and experience our periods today is so different to the way our Indigenous descendants did and I truly believe a return to some of these practices will help you find a deeper connection and pride in yourself, your tipuna (ancestors) and te taiao (the environment). Our ancestors viewed periods as tapu (sacred) and it was celebrated by the whole community, as it signified the continuation of whānau and hapu (family and extended family).

During their periods Māori did not work, instead it was a time for rest and to learn arts such as karakia (prayer), crafts like weaving, waiata (songs) or whakapapa (genealogy).

While this may not be feasible for everyone today, we know that everyone can be taking more time out to practice self-care during this time.

Be proud of your period, be in nature, meditate, take a bush walk, sit on the earth or bathe in your local awa or moana (river or ocean).

If time permits, take your entire period off as rest and enjoy what you love.

If you can’t, then try to take one day off, ideally the heaviest day. Or take one night off, ask family to cook, turn off your phone, run a warm bath with essential oils and candles. This is a great time to connect with your family and to connect with yourself.

Q: What are your personal practices during the flow which could help other women?

A: I track my periods through Maramataka. Maramataka is the Māori lunar calendar, meaning the turning of the moon.

Each year has 12 months based on the cycles of the moon and these lunar months begin and end when the moon is full, and last for about 30 days.

The stars also play a part in the calendar. During a typical lunar month, some days are noted as being favourable for resource harvesting, whereas other days are known to be unfavourable.

I plan my days, weeks and months around Maramataka, where I sync my period, energy and emotions with the lunar cycle.

For example, if it’s Whiro (a new moon) I won’t work, I will spend the day at home meditating or going into the bush.

Tangaroa is a high productivity phase for me so I’m usually working long hours and ensuring I get some time in the ocean.

My team always knows it’s Tanagaroa before I tell them - it’s when I come at them with a million ideas!

Q: Why do women need to foster a deeper connection with their bodies?

A: When I connect in with my body at a deeper level, I am a better colleague, mother, and friend, I know when to rest, I know when to ask for help, I have a moment to reset.

I also encourage my team to work in the same way, finding moments within their cycle to better understand times of productivity and time to rest.

Even my out of office will let people know I have my period. I set expectations around when I will be contactable and available.

For western society, this seems counter intuitive, but knowing my cycle and supporting others at different parts of theirs has made me even more productive.

Michele Wilson
Michele Wilson

Q: When did AWWA launch, and why is it innovative?

A: I was on a family holiday in Rarotonga with my daughters and I got my period.

I was trying to decide what to get in Rarotonga to manage my period — I didn’t want to contribute to the waste of the small island by buying pads or tampons.

Looking at my two girls playing I began to think, what does the future look like for them and why is it 2018 and there are no modern comfortable options.

When I returned home, I began calling manufacturers and working with textiles and labs to find absorbent moisture-wicking fabric to develop our range of period-proof underwear, and AWWA was born.

As an Indigenous mother to daughters, I wanted to create a more empowering, more sustainable, and more connected relationship with our periods – not just for my own children, but for everyone across Aotearoa and beyond.

Q: How do women embrace their menstrual cycles?

A: AWWA deeply reflects the relationship and connections between oneself, our environment, and planet.

Our products help people all around the globe to manage and embrace their monthly cycles with confidence and connection without the negative impact associated with single use period products.

AWWA lives and breathes inclusivity for all who menstruate or experience minor bladder weakness.

We are rooted in Indigenous traditions that celebrate ikura (Māori translation for period) and aim to reconnect our growing community to traditional wisdom and practices that are equally relevant in today’s world.

Through all this work, we aim to help people who menstruate to embrace their periods every month, by re-indigenising our ikura we aim to reduce any shame around this very natural bodily function.

Women can do anything; they just can’t do everything. And we certainly can’t do it all when we have our periods!

Take the time to connect, embrace and reset your body when you have your period – it won’t change in the first month but slowly you will start to reflect and understand your cycle.



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