The Burden of a Period

Period protection should not be a privilege

As we began our summer internships at ThoughtMatter, Niki Giokas and I were presented with an extraordinary opportunity: To apply our respective design and brand strategy knowledge to a collaborative project on the subject of our choice.

We started by getting to know each other and quickly discovered a shared passion for women’s issues — each of us informed by our recent school work. Niki had created a vagina-shaped tampon dispenser for an undergraduate course as a commentary on the lack of menstrual hygiene resources on campus, while I was in the throes of my masters in branding thesis project on feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment.

With social movements demanding equality and autonomy for women, the current cultural climate is ready for a candid discussion on specific issues that affect women and girls. With that in mind, we decided to tackle the topic of menstruation in order to challenge the idea that periods are something that should be dealt with quietly and privately.

To understand menstruation, you need to know who’s affected by it. By looking at the functional and emotional needs of people who menstruate and charting them along Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we learned that when it comes to their periods, a shockingly large number of Americans do not have their basic needs met.

Dismayed by the information we uncovered, we were inspired to shed light on this substantial but overlooked group of people with two goals in mind: First, to raise awareness about the challenges people face in accessing menstrual care products when they are homeless, poverty-stricken, or incarcerated; Second, to do so in a way that opens an honest, no-holds-barred public conversation around menstruation.

Although Niki and I had full reign over the project and were largely self-directed, the team here at ThoughtMatter offered their support and feedback every step of the way, from brainstorm to production. Each week it seemed there was another book on our desks or article in our inboxes to inspire us. The excitement that the whole studio brought to what became fondly known as “the period project” never ceased to motivate us.

Once we compiled our research, it was time to decide how we might share our findings with the world. Guided and encouraged by ThoughtMatter’s leadership, we built an informational website whose aim is to spread the message that period protection should not be a privilege.

In order to persuade those who do not experience period struggles to empathize with our cause, we needed to present serious information in an accessible and engaging way, finding a balance between playful and provocative. We combined hand-drawn illustrations with a touch of humor, and thus “Beatrice the Burden” was born!

Niki’s intriguing original drawings help to convey the weight of a burden, like the mythical Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. Through visual metaphors, Beatrice shows the challenges and risks that women face during their periods when they lack access to essential resources. This captivating character helps tell the story on PeriodPrivilege.com in a series of illustrations and animations, as well as on a set of vinyl stickers and an informational zine.

We created Beatrice and PeriodPrivilege.com to get people talking about the core human needs of those in the U.S. who menstruate in order to promote awareness and eliminate stigma. Half of humanity deals with menstruation, yet there is little conversation around the burden this places on women with limited resources. We want to inform those in a position of privilege about menstrual needs different from their own and encourage them to take action.

Period protection should not be a privilege! Find out how you can help relieve a hidden burden of a period at PeriodPrivilege.com.


This post was written by Carina Sandoval with thinking contributed by Niki Giokas and Brendan Crain. ThoughtMatter is a creative branding, design and strategy studio in New York City’s Flatiron District. Find us on Twitter.