PSA: Period Poverty Is Still a *Huge* Issue. Here’s What One Company Is Doing to Help.

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PSA: Period Poverty Is Still a *Huge* Issuecottonbro studios/Pexels

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School is in session and let’s dive right in with a quick lesson: What is period poverty? The phrase, which you might’ve first noticed popping up on Twitter and Tumblr, describes the real and everyday struggle that 500 million Americans face when trying to get their hands on tampons and pads or hygiene facilities. Women living in poverty often cannot afford period products or the (rising) sales tax on such items, which are—mysteriously—legally considered a “luxury.”

Yeah, all together now: 🧐

If you menstruate, you know that affordable and accessible menstrual supplies are in fact necessities. Which is why, in an effort to eradicate period poverty and period stigma, the Aerie Real Foundation is—for the first time ever—partnering with youth-led organization PERIOD., a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating menstrual inequity through service and education. This International Women’s Day, AEO is donating $50,000 to PERIOD. youth advocacy programs, along with 1,000 pairs of Aerie period underwear.

This donation isn’t a one-and-done collaboration with PERIOD., says Jen Foyle, the president and executive creative director of AE and Aerie. As a next step, AEO inc., the parent company of Aerie, will become a Workplace Champion with PERIOD. This long-term partnership will make “menstrual products and education materials available in more than half of all restrooms in AEO offices, distribution centers, and AE and Aerie stores,” she says. “We also will provide any associate with a menstrual-related health issue the ability to take time away from work.”

Normalizing menstruation in the workplace is an unprecedented shift, but according to Foyle, it’s not enough to combat period poverty at large. Below, Foyle explains what else the company is doing to combat period inequity, what IWD and menstrual inequality means to her as a woman in the C-Suite, and more.

Tell me how this partnership with PERIOD. came about.

We’re always listening to our customers and associates, and love that we are able to bring many of their ideas to life. A valued member within the Aerie undies team brought forward the idea of a partnership with PERIOD. After talking with the organization, we immediately recognized an opportunity for both the Aerie Real Foundation and the entire company to get behind this youth-fueled cause. Aerie has been a champion of positivity, body confidence and empowerment for nearly 10 years—and our partnership with PERIOD. is a natural extension of our leadership in supporting young women’s health and wellness.

Outside of the financial investment and the Workplace Champion membership, does Aerie have any additional plans with PERIOD. to combat period poverty?

We are very much focused on education. To engage our customer community, the Aerie brand will host its first Body Literacy REAL Talk of 2023 on March 26 at the Georgetown flagship location. The talk will feature Regan Moss, a Youth Advisory Committee member from PERIOD. We also are planning workplace opportunities for associates to join in on discussions that highlight the importance of period equity and normalize talking about menstruation.

In becoming a Workplace Champion with PERIOD., you promised to allow employees to take time off from work when they’re experiencing menstrual health issues. Can you tell me more about this?

We don’t ever want an associate who feels unwell to report to work. And we want our teams to understand the importance AEO places on caring for associates’ total wellbeing. We’re proud to play a part in helping to eliminate the stigma in taking time away from work for menstrual-related health reasons. All of our associates should feel empowered to take the time they need to be well.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you as a woman in C-Suite?

What means the most to me is that my position as an executive opens up opportunities for the women on my team to break down barriers and forge a gender equal world. It’s extremely important to me to be accessible to future women leaders and give them the space to learn, grow and celebrate achievements. Everyone has a unique perspective on life, career, and the definition of success. You can learn a lot from each other when you step back and honor the experiences and differences that got us to the same place.

What does IWD mean to Aerie as a brand? How is Aerie observing the day, outside of collaborating with PERIOD.?

We are a predominantly female company with nearly 50 percent of executive leaders identifying as women—so International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month is very important to AEO and our brands. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be highlighting the many accomplishments of our associate community through various internal events and externally through our social channels.

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