Have you ever started your cycle and had to whisper to the person beside you and ask “Do you have a pad or tampon?” Or let’s say you played sports and it was game day, “How am I supposed to play, is my pad thick enough? I hope I don’t bleed through.” The sheer nervousness can consume you, causing an internal freak out that’s unrelenting. Well, 1 in 4 girls around the world drop out of sport during adolescence with one of the key reasons cited being fear of leakage while on their period. Here to erase that fear, Adidas is addressing this issue head-on with product innovation and resources to help girls stay in sports despite menstruating.
Adidas, along with their Stay in Play launch, has just debuted their TechFit Period Proof Tights — using Flow Shield Technology to help protect against leaks, giving athletes the confidence to stay in play throughout their cycle. In addition to the tights, Adidas has also partnered with Dr. Georgie Bruinvels of Ocrreco who has created free lesson plans (yes – free) and provided resources to improve education about menstruating and comfortability around having a period. To further educate the masses, Adidas will also bring pop-up Stay In Play Trainer’s Lounges to youth sporting events throughout the summer.
ESSENCE had the pleasure of sitting down with Kim Buerger, Senior Product Manager for Adidas and Dr. Bruinvels to discuss how this two-year development came into fruition. “So, it started like over two years ago, actually,” Buerger says. “Within Adidas, we have a lot of teams working on consumer insights, cultural shifts and trends, and they really brought that to us as a theme. We talked to a lot of people who menstruate to ask them like how we can improve our product and if there’s something that they are missing from assets of brand.” Buerger says what they found is that girls drop out of sports during their teenage years mainly because of the mental aspect and not feeling confident to work out through that period. “The mental aspect was bigger than even the physical discomfort of it,” she continues. “So that was really the starting point to the whole creation process.”
Taken aback by the originality of the product, ESSENCE was curious to know if this was the first of its kind. “It’s a new territory for us,” Brueger explains. “So that makes it even more exciting that we can kind of marry the sports performance part with great technology.” The team also explained why they didn’t shy away from the word “period” in naming the product. “We just wanted it to be what it is,” Brueger says. “It’s like an additional period proof protection system that you get with the tights, so we don’t have to mask it. We want to break that stigma, be able to talk about it, and tackle it more from the angle of educating.”
Dr. Bruinvels was responsible for the technology and education portion of the Stay In Play Campaign who explained how a period impacts their body while playing. “1 of 3 of female athletes feel that their performance can be negatively impacted by their cycle,” she says. “Additionally, 1 in 3 of women are heavy bleeders but if you’re proactive, you’ll be empowered to understand what to do about it. The whole premise of this campaign is to provide understanding and practical tools that we’ve created to help support.” Dr. Bruinvels did this through creating lesson plans to make the topic easier to discuss. “The menstrual cycle is a normal natural process,” she says. “It’s a sign of health and it shouldn’t be debilitating. That was a big highlight for me of the program was trying to remove the barriers and provide them with the tools, skills and know-how.”
Most importantly, however, is that the tights don’t feel like a diaper of sorts. “I feel that when you wear these, it’s not like, ‘Oh, these are your period shorts’ or ‘These are your period tights,'” Dr. Bruinvels says. “However, you’ll actually feel protected and covered — just not bulky.” I asked both Buerger and Dr. Bruinvels which pair was their favorite and surprisingly got two different answers. Buerger loved the shorter length because of how popular the biker short look is and Dr. Bruinvels liked the longer lengths because she is “quite short” and that elongate her bottom half. As someone who is 5’3, I’m all too familiar with that struggle.
People who menstruate should feel comfortable talking about their periods, and Adidas reminds us of the trauma young women have faced while trying to play sports, but also provides endless material to educate one another on what is needed. These recently launched on June 15th, along with a full-cover swimwear line dedicated to the same thing.