‘The Period Fairy’ Nadya Okamoto, Changing the Narrative

By Reiham Amin.

Nadya Okamoto; co-founder and CEO of August (a lifestyle period brand), is becoming a viral sensation on the internet for breaking the stigma around periods, and sharing content on TikTok and Instagram of her sustainable period pads and how they work, which has sparked controversy online.

At just 16 years of age, Nadya Okamoto started an organisation which was called period.org, where she was Executive Director until the beginning of 2020, which is when she embarked on the journey of what is now, August.

“I was really inspired to get involved by learning about period poverty and I was struggling to find and connect with existing organizations in 2014 that were doing something about it in my local area”

Distributing period products to places in need and a lot of the work she was doing at Period, allowed Nadya Okamoto’s inquisitive mind to grow. “I kept thinking every day that there needed to be a more empowering and more sustainable brands of tampons and pads that had impact embedded into every purchase that was made. And that’s really what August aims to do – to create more sustainable and more comfortable versions of tampons and pads, and have product and monetary giveback with every transaction to our non-profit partners.”

Okamoto is working towards redefining periods to be powerful and making sure that that all period products are accessible to all genders. She pushes this narrative on her social media platforms where she actively drives for more sustainable and high-quality period products as possible. Because of the success of her activism, she has now been able to voice her mission into a non-profit organisation, a book and now a sustainable period care brand.

“Our pads might look just like any other pad, but in reality, most pads take 500-800 years to decompose while August pads take 12 months. Most pads have enough plastic for 3-5 plastic bags, and August pads are plastic free! And they are comfortable and more absorbent.”

Earlier this year, Nadya attended a festival where she was seen in festival gear which entailed a pair of sheer pink underwear and a bra top. Even though she was on her period at the time, she owned the dance floor and did not alter her costume, she was determined to not let her period ruin her time.

@NadyaOkamoto on TikTok : https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMF6Mawqs/

TikTok videos of her were shared online of her in costume dancing, with not a worry in the world if her period pad was on show or not. The videos sparked controversy all over social media with both men and women criticizing the movement. Many users were quick to advise her to cover up and others shared their ‘disgust’ of the act online, with some saying: “Having a period is natural. The same way urinating is natural – I would never want to see someone’s piss”

“Of course, there is also a lot of disgust and even anger — and I’m not surprised by that. I think five years ago, if I saw someone on social media I would probably cringe or gag from disgust because that’s how we have been conditioned to react to period blood by society. I try to see the hate and pushback as just reminders on why we need to do this work.”

Regardless of the negative comments, Nadya highlights that she has received a lot of positive feedback from her content, with many reaching out to her to thank her and others supporting the movement and sending words of encouragement.

“Periods are powerful — yet society teaches us to feel ashamed and silences us when talking about menstruation. We should be conscious of this and stop this mentality! We fundamentally need to get all of society (menstruator or not!) to acknowledge/act on that menstrual products are NECESSITIES —and everyone should have equitable access to them.”

The backlash that was fuelled from Nadya’s videos, are a reminder that there needs to be further education about periods in order to make it a societal norm.

“We should all join the menstrual movement – the fight for equitable access to period products and the effort to break down the stigma and taboo around periods! And there are so many ways to get involved and so many incredible organizations, brands, and leaders who are doing the most incredible work around the world. Start with simple conversations with your friends, families, and normalize talking about periods as something that is natural and powerful!”

Where do you see your brand growing in the next five years?

“As a founder, I want to ensure that every decision we make at August is aligned with creating a more sustainable future for period care, especially as we continue innovating. Although we launched with disposable period products – we did so because we knew that we needed to take the journey of making more sustainable period care alongside our community’s needs. In the future, I hope that we can just keep expanding on our offerings.”

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