Chronic Illness, a Six-Flags Love Story and Periods with Elicia
Are you ready to continue the conversation about periods & disability?
Elicia joined us to chat about her journey as a disabled menstruator – as well as a Six Flags love story you don't wanna miss!
👙 👩🦼 Liberare is the inclusive lingerie brand designed by disabled babes for easier dressing.
🩸🌳 August is the sustainable, unapologetic and gender inclusive period care brand that ACTUALLY works.
Together, we listened to the insights of our 3 models about how their disability affects their period and what they're looking for in accessible period products and disability-inclusive underwear!
Meet Elicia (she/her)
Elicia: My name is Elicia. I’m from Connecticut. I’m 35 years old.
And, technically, this was Elicia’s first ever modeling shoot for a branded campaign – although you’d never be able to tell from the fierce face she had on for these photos.
Nadya: Let’s get right into it – Can you tell me a little about your period journey?
Elicia: I had my first period at 12 years old. I ended up getting it randomly while I was playing outside, and this neighbor that looked after us noticed that I’d just got it.
My mom was at work, so I didn't even have, like, instructions from my mom. It was this lady who got my all cleaned up and set up.
I don't remember what I was wearing, I just remember the fact that I was just oblivious to it.
And I was just like, “oh, great.” – cos’ I knew it came with it (just, like, period horror stories from my mom.
Nadya: And do you still get your period now? If yes, what menstrual products do you use?
Elicia: Yes. I use both pads and tampons but it depends on how bad my nausea is that day…
Usually with tampons, I get more nauseous and I find I get more cramps too. So if it's that kind of day, then it's going to be a pad.
Nadya: Can you tell me a little bit about your disability?
Elicia: Well, in 2013, I started to get symptoms of pain, really bad fatigue, and just random things that would happen.
It wasn't until probably three years ago where I was officially diagnosed with FND (aka functional neurological disorder).
FND causes things like:
- loss of speech
- loss of the ability to walk
- non epileptic seizures
Elicia: But I've been working on my triggers and sort of getting better at predicting them.
Prior to [the FND diagnosis], I had been diagnosed with POTS, which is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
Elicia explained to us that, for other people, blood flows around evenly when they stand up. For her, it doesn’t balance out that way. The results of this are:
- not being able to stand for too long therefore using a chair
Nadya: Do either of those conditions affect your menstrual cycle, or, does your period affect your different symptoms?
Elicia: I find that my period definitely affects both my POTS and the FND because, obviously with the whole blood mechanism…
I just feel like when I have, like, “Niagara Falls” coming out my vagina, it definitely means that I'm extra dizzy and nauseous.
Nadya: You have two menstruating daughters now so, how was it when they got their first period?
Elicia: For my 12 year old, she was at a friend's house…
She kind of just went: “Mom, I think I got my period”, and I'm like, “well, where are you?” and she's like, “in the bathroom”.
I already knew she was at her friend's house so I was like, “well, do you think that you can get a period product from your friend til we pick you up?” and she was like, “oh yeah.”
They're not as shy with it as I was – and I think that's because of the way my mom was with it.
Even my nine year old, first day of school I was going to tell her (in a whispered mumble): “don't forget you know, pack panty liners…” and as she was packing her bag for school she's already got a handful of panty liners so she was ready to go.
At nine years old, you would think, like, “oh, I don't want my friends to know cos’ not everybody's getting their period. But they're very open with it.
Nadya: Around both the design of tampons and pads, is there anything that you think could be different about them to be more accessible and easy to use?
Elicia: I mean, I know pads work better. Even on my bad days, I find pads easier to use.
There are times where my husband has to change me when I lose the ability to move my arms, legs, whatever – my husband literally has to change my underwear and put on a pad.
So I think pads are the easier way to go and I feel like that's as easy as it's gonna to be.
Nadya: We NEED cis-men or non-menstruating partners to be more supportive of periods so that is ultimate – so cool.
Elicia: I mean, it was embarrassing at first – I'm not going to lie.
I didn’t want him to see my bloody pad. But it is what it is.
Quick pause for Elicia’s meet-cute love story (AW!)…
Elicia: We've been together for 11 years, married this year, but 22 years together.
We've been together since we were 13.
At Six Flags, a grade 8 trip: period went through my pants.
He went and got me a different pair of shorts, Six Flags shorts, and then a tampon.
I was embarrassed because I was walking through Six Flags but, like, yeah.
Nadya: And that's when you knew he was the one!
Nadya: Do you feel sexy having lingerie and even on your period, do you feel sexy?
Elicia: I don't know about on my period… when I'm, like, bloated and stuff, but I mean, you got the boobs, so you kind of work the boobs.
Nadya: So, how did you feel when Liberare reached out to you to model for this lingerie shoot…wearing a pad?
Elicia: Let's do it. Yeah, whatever, I'm down.
I'm happy to be here. Honestly, I can't believe I am here.
What about Liberare bras do you like?
Elicia: I do like bras that close in the front.
Pulling over sports bras are harder for me.
As Elicia gestures to the front-clasp opening of her Liberare bra, she says: “this whole thing here is, like, awesome”.
Elicia: Even if I don't wear these every day, but, like, on my bad days where my husband needs to just be able to just throw something on or take something off – I love this idea.
Nadya: Did you grow up with more accessible underwear available?
Elicia: No. Even when I saw this brand on Instagram [aka Liberare!] I thought it was pretty cool.
To have the opportunity to use something like this, that someone came up with, to support me on my really bad days – that's awesome. Yeah. I think that's pretty cool.
Nadya: If you could snap your fingers on how brands think about people with disabilities, what would that look like?
Elicia: Just having the equal opportunity to go in there. I feel like a lot of places aren't even accessible to us to get to.
When there's more accessibility around in the world, it’ll open more opportunities for disabled people. I know a lot of things that I skip out on because I can't even make it to them, physically.
Thank you Elicia!
AUGUST X LIBERARE
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