Kia ora Lucy, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the founder and chair of Soap For Society which is a charity devoted to helping people access to basic bathroom products, no matter what their social or economic status.
What does the word Dignity mean to you?
Dignity is all about choice. It’s fine if you only use soap or coconut oil for everything - if that’s your choice! But if you need to use soap to wash your hands, hair, clothes, clean - that isn’t dignity. I think dignity should be available to everyone and so we have to allow people to choose what they use on their bodies to stay clean.
What was a meaningful experience relating to your period growing up?
I remember being initially really terrified of tampons! One afternoon as a teenager I wanted to go swimming at the pool with my friends, but I had my period. I had only used pads, never tampons, so I had to learn fast. I had to ask my friend Hayley Sproull to read out the instructions about how to use a tampax on repeat as a kind of soothing manta to somehow encourage me to successfully figure it out. Now I use reusable sanitary items and its great to be able to know I’m making a small difference.
What are some of the best things for you about being/identifying as a woman and menstruation?
Knowing my body is healthy when I have my period. I am safe, well and healthy.
What makes you feel empowered/comfortable in your skin?
Helping other people and sharing stories. I love interviewing people and writing about their lives. I think that we can make a difference by sharing our personal stories with one another and it can help break down the stigma and barriers that come with talking about our human bodies. We all do gross things, because we’re human. Human bodies are weird! But they’re also very normal and I love everything that comes with being a person that breathes, sweats and experiences menstruation.
Q - What would you like to say to anyone navigating their first period?
It gets better.
How would you like to see the current status quo around access and period products and period equity in Aotearoa change?
I would like period products to be GST free, and proper free period products supplied for all women, not only teens. We also need to start to measure hygiene poverty in our DEP-17 survey and poverty index questions.
Thank you Lucy! Find our more about Lucy’s mahi with Soap for Society here