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  • Francesca Pietkiewicz

I Deserve to Look Fun and Cool on My Period: Praising AWWA Period Underwear

Words by Francesca Pietkiewicz (she/they)

“Single-use period products are made with plastic, meaning they can take up to 500 years to break down in our landfills. Switch[ing] to period underwear continues to significantly reduce the number of single-use pads and tampons ending up in landfill and waterways.”* - Lena Aziz, AWWA Representative

My mum bought me my first pair of period underwear in my last year of high school. They were from the American-owned brand Thinx. When I left home a couple months later, I had misplaced them. Back in 2018, there weren’t any local options that I knew of, and I didn’t have the disposable income to get more pairs of Thinx shipped to my hall bedroom. 

I tried a moon cup for a while, wanting to stay on that saving the planet grind. But on every attempt, it popped inside of me like one of those half-circle popper dropper toys from the early 2000s—a sensation I don’t recommend. So I went back to a heavy period’s not-so-sustainable best friend: nighttime maxi pads.

As much as I have enjoyed the arrival and accessibility of period underwear from brands such as Libra and U by Kotex on supermarket shelves in the last year or so, I’m looking for a smidgen more out of my period products. I want something comfy, cute, and made to last. I want to support an ethical brand, so plastic, ancient, femme-coded period product brands are really not the go.

If I had to choose U by Kotex or Libra though, I’d go for U by Kotex just because they paired up with Thinx to make theirs. Libra has also had numerous transphobic complaints in the past and their period underwear is very much giving pink tax girly (with lace waistbands and their teen line being called ‘Libra Girl’) so not overly inviting or inclusive vibes.

For this review, I’m focusing on the Aotearoa-made, wahine Māori-owned period underwear brand: AWWA. (I was gifted AWWA products for this review.) I first noticed AWWA a couple years ago, and was drawn in by how beautiful their products and design were. Here’s the thing with period underwear: it’s boring as shit. I mean, I get it, you’re bleeding through them, so go with black granny panty vibes. But why the hell not make them cute? Am I not allowed cute undies on my period? I’m already crampy, my period underwear should not remind me I’m feeling drab. 

That’s not the case with AWWA. They’ve got cute colours, like pink, periwinkle purple, khaki green, and rust orange. They’ve got different styles, from cosy, high-waisted briefs to sexy g-strings and matching bras. They even have boxers, which, as a non-binary person, I found very slay. Periods are a huge reminder of my femininity and the intensity my hormones bring into my life, so a little bit of masc energy for my flow week was hugely welcomed. They also have swimwear! I had just accepted that swimming on my period wasn’t an option. I’m pumped to purchase some AWWA swimwear for my summer awa swims in the Ruamāhanga.

Back when I first noticed AWWA, I had just gotten a hormonal IUD and my flow had gone from excessive to almost non-existent. I didn’t feel the need to purchase any undies. But since the recent removal of said IUD, the seven days of heavy bleeding are back, and my AWWA package arrived just in time to support. I got a pair of periwinkle briefs and rust orange boxers and I squealed while opening them. They’re absolutely gorgeous. 

I wore the boxers out to the Milktooth, Maiden Name, and Sheboy wonderfully sapphic gig, the perfect setting to be in gender-affirming period care. I don’t usually have the energy or confidence to go out on my period. But I did that night and that’s exactly what AWWA products promote. Why should my period underwear make me feel worse when it could make me feel fun and cool?

Skip the supermarket trip your next period and support a local, Māori-owned business. Invest in some AWWA.


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