My daughter got her period when she was 11, and even though she's almost 14 now, she still doesn't use tampons. Every month as I watch her shove about 20 pads and pantyliners into a hidden compartment in her backpack, I can't help but think that there must be a better way.
Turns out, there is.
Have you heard about Thinx period panties? They're the underwear that's being billed as "period-proof" because they've been designed to keep you dry, kick leaks to the curb, and prevent you from walking around in public with a high-key red stain on your jeans during your monthly bout with Girl Flu.
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It sounds weird AF but also kind of cool, right? Could these babies actually work? And if so, would this be the solution my tampon-phobic kid has been searching for? We were skeptical, but intrigued, so we clicked over to the website to investigate and were greeted with the following copy:
"We know, this sounds pretty weird. Not weird, tho. Just awesome."
It was like they read our minds!
"These are legit," my daughter said, scrolling through the various styles for sale and apparently realizing that she could, in fact, rock a pair of period undies without descending into full-on granny panty territory.
Because there were options. Seven, to be exact, all broken down by absorbency level—or in Thinx-speak, by the number of blood-filled tampons they can hold. There's everything from a lacy thong (!) that can handle about half of a tampon on light days to a hiphugger for your heaviest days that can contain two full tampons worth of flow.
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I have to admit, it sounded pretty cool. This kind of profound protection will set you back, though—around $34 a pair. There's also some fine print on the website about how Thinx is designed to replace panty liners (notice how that doesn't say "pads") and are meant to be used in conjunction with tampons and menstrual cups.
"You know your flow though," the copy states. "So we suggest testing your own limits."
Hold up. Did they just throw down the gauntlet? Challenge accepted! Because there's nothing a 13-year-old likes more than testing limits. So, we ordered her one pair of Cheekys for light days and a pair of Sports for mid-cycle, and then immediately started prepping to take those suckers out for a test drive—by which I mean we sat around and waited for the undies to arrive and my kid to get her period.
The Thinx showed up first. "Ooooh," my daughter said, running her hand over the silky black fabric. "They're so smooooth." The package had arrived on our doorstep just minutes before, and she had already ripped into it to survey the goods. Because patience is totally not a virtue when you're in eighth grade.
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Luckily, Aunt Flow made her presence known just a few days later. "Ughhhh, I just got my period," I heard my daughter lament from the bathroom. And then, "Omigod, WAIT! Moooom, can you go get me those Thinx thingys?"
Sure thing, jellybean.
She put them right on and then paraded over to the mirror, turning this way and that to check herself out. "They look cute!" she said.
Agreed. "But how do they feel?" I wanted to know.
"I don't know ... Kinda like a bathing suit? But, like, more comfortable—way more comfortable than wearing a crunchy pad," she answered.
Good news. But are pads crunchy now? Is that a thing? Before I could ask, she disappeared into her room and shut the door.
When she emerged a few hours later, barking at me for some Motrin, I nervously inquired about the Thinx.
"Omigod, you don't even KNOW!," she shouted at me excitedly, as if just remembering that she even had them on. "So, I went to the bathroom like three times, and I was so nervous to see if the blood, like, went through or whatever, but it didn't! This is SO COOL!"
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"But is it weird," I asked. "Can you feel it coming out?"
"Yeah," she answered nonchalantly. "But that happens when I wear my pads, too. Only now I don't feel like I'm sitting around in a bloody diaper all day."
"So what does it feel like, then?" I pressed.
"Just, kind of, like ... nothing," she said.
Pretty impressive. In fact, the only downside seemed to be that we had to rinse these things out in cold water at the end of the day before tossing them in the wash. And by "we," I mean "me." But even that somehow wasn't as gross as you'd think it would be.
The news the next day was even better after my daughter decided to wear her second set of Thinx to school.
"MOM!" she began unprompted, the minute she got in my car. "These things are BOMB! Not having to change my pad at school was the BEST THING EVER! #livingthelazylife."
She's in eighth grade, so speaking in hashtag was nothing new, and I was glad to hear she was still digging the Thinx, but how bad could changing a pad in school actually be?
"You don't get it," she said with an eye roll. "It's SO annoying. First, I have to raise my hand and ask the teacher if I can go to the bathroom. Then I have to stop at my locker to get a new pad. And then I have to sneak one out of my backpack and shove it in the waist of my leggings so no one sees it. And then I have to hope it doesn't fall out when I walk down the hall."
My kid was right. I didn't get it. Because I had forgotten what it was like to be 13. And because we had never talked about this before. I felt like the worst mom in the world.
"And then," she continued, "the grossest part is trying to take off the dirty pad before I put the new one on because it's so hard to roll it up without getting blood on my hands, which is SO disgusting. And our stupid school doesn't have any trash cans in the stalls, so I have to carry this big thing out with me, and like, throw it away before someone sees."
At just like that, it all came rushing back—the embarrassment that comes with having your period when you're still in middle school. The feeling that if someone knows you have your period or thinks you have your period or even just sees you standing in the vicinity of a tampon machine, your whole life will basically be over.
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Suddenly, $34 didn't seem like a lot of money to spend on a pair of underwear anymore, because it turns out, Thinx are a total middle school game changer. No leaks, no smell, no 10-step process just to get yourself down the hall, and no dealing with all those big "crunchy" pads anymore.
What more could a 13-year-old girl want?
Apparently, one more thing. "If they could make a bathing suit version of these things," my daughter told me, "that would truly be the best thing ever."
Gauntlet thrown down. Your move, Thinx.