This Campaign Puts a Spotlight on Period Poverty
5 min read
by Toni Brannagan | October 28, 2021
Since their founding in 2012, the mother-daughter duo behind the 501c3 nonprofit No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit, Inc have been fighting period poverty in their Philadelphia community. Lynette Medley and Nya McGlone currently distribute over 38,000 period products a week (!!!), by visiting people’s homes themselves and inviting them to The SPOT (Safety Programming for Optimum Transformation) Period, the world’s first menstrual hub, which opened this past year.
Through their work, Lynette and Nya have developed personal relationships with the people who require their services, and they’ve set out to share the voices in their community in a new campaign, Power a Period. The online platform features the stories of five women who Lynette picked herself, their experiences with period poverty, and how No More Secrets’s services changed their life. For Lynette, carving a space for authentic voices and experiences was key.
“The women I chose were women who I’ve made deliveries to. I was intentional about saying I wanted real people — I did not want stock photos, I did not want videos of people who were hired,” Lynette shared. “I haven’t seen a period poverty campaign with real people, and most people can’t do it because they don’t interact with the communities the way I do.”
Power a Period was created to educate, empower, and of course, to drive donations, but Lynette also hopes that this campaign will help viewers unpack preconceived notions about who is affected by a lack of access to menstrual products.
“Period poverty is a health disparity and epidemic that’s affecting half our population,” Lynette explained. “And it affects anybody who’s having any economic difficulties — it’s not just people who are ‘poor’ as people say, even middle class people are affected. You might pay rent, pay utilities, do what you can for your children, but there’s nothing to bridge the gap for menstrual products and I don’t think people realize that.”
One of the women featured in the campaign, Debra, speaks to this further when she shares her story. She’s asked for aid in the past, and has been told in response that she “looks like she has money.” According to Lynette, this is unfortunately very common — perpetuating stereotypes about who “looks like” they could be suffering from period poverty, or only sharing stories about period poverty due to extreme situations (like homelessness or incarceration, for example) are why the issue remains stigmatized.
“People always assume these aren’t the real people walking down the street with us that are in our communities,” Lynette observed. “I’m glad they were able to capture the realities of the people we serve every day.”
Since the women featured in the campaign weren’t scripted, Lynette herself heard their stories for the first time when the videos were played back to her. Hearing the ways that No More Secrets has directly impacted these women’s lives provided a much-needed boost in morale, and validation that their work is needed.
“I’ve been crying every time I look at it,” shared Lynette. “I think that I cry because I don’t want to get angry. Every time I see it I’m like, this is crazy — this is crazy that in 2021 this is still going on in our communities.”
Maintaining the services that No More Secrets provides can definitely be difficult, Lynette shares, and sometimes they even receive hate mail. (Seriously, hate mail for providing menstrual products to people in need. The period taboo runs strong, people.)
But No More Secrets isn’t going anywhere, and breaking down the stigma around menstruation is at the top of Lynette’s list. The menstrual hub recently hosted their first “Period Power Party” for their young visitors, to normalize celebrating periods in their community.
“We celebrate everything else — first day of school, first day of everything — I want people to get into the routine of celebrating like, hey, let’s celebrate her first period!” says Lynette. “It’s a normal natural part of life, it should be normalized, and celebrated.”
by Toni Brannagan