Get That Life: How I Empower Women To Remove The Shame From A Taboo Subject

Work around problems, not solutions.

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Aditi Gupta, 32, is the founder of Menstrupedia, a website devoted to teaching young women how to stay healthy and active during their periods. Menstrupedia started out as a thesis project for Aditi and her husband, Paul during their time in college, but has quickly turned into a friendly resource for all things related to menstrual cycles, generating over 1,500,000 page views a month! Aditi's secret to creating a successful brand? She saw a gap in the market, and decided to fill it! 

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I grew up in Garhwa, Jharkhand and got my first period at the age of 12. It was a scary experience because I didn't know what was going on with my body and was told to keep it a secret from my father and brother. Because periods are considered taboo in India, I felt completely alone, especially knowing all the restrictions that were placed on me because of having my period including not being able to sit on a family sofa, not able to touch/eat pickle, not allowed to worship and was even branded impure. I was ashamed to buy sanitary napkins which left me to use unhygienic, old rags, causing me discomfort and a lot of rashes. I also remember the small amount of menstruation information we learned in school. It was taught in the most biological and clinical manner and did not offer anything practical. This is where it clicked for me. I knew I could not be the only girl who was feeling lost and confused about her period. 

I was ashamed to buy sanitary napkins.

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I studied Communication Design at National Institute of Design and met (my husband) Tuhin Paul. I told him about my pain and inconvenience during the time of my period and we quickly learned that there was a gap of information in India around young women and menstruation. We took a year long project to study the level of awareness about menstruation in young women. We were shocked to find that in some parts of India, 3 out of 10 girls are unaware of periods when they got it for the first time. What started out as a thesis project is now Menstrupedia.com. We started off by creating a prototype, where we explained menstruation through a comic medium, using characters and stories and shared it with young girls. We received a very positive response which strengthen our belief about Menstrupedia even more.

3 out of 10 girls are unaware of periods when they get it for the first time.

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Tuhin and I got married after finishing college, and were working at two separate desk jobs. Because our comics were starting to take up a lot of our time, we decided to quit our jobs and devote all of our attention to launching Menstrupedia.com. Our official website launched in November 2012 and it quickly became a place for anyone who is curious to learn more about their menstruation cycle, in a light-hearted manner. We have a Q&A section, where people can openly ask any questions and we have a blog section, where young girls share their personal stories and experiences with periods. It is truly a community where one can learn about a natural process in her body and feel completely comfortable. 

The biggest issue that we came across when growing the Menstrupedia brand and launching our comic books on a larger scale were the lack of funds. It was a huge set-back. I didn't want to borrow money, especially at the early stages of our comic books, so we decided to set up a crowd-fund. The funds we raised helped us design, print and distribute our comic books.  Our comics have received an extremely positive response from teachers, parents and young women who are curious about learning or teaching anything related to menstrual cycles. 

I knew I wanted to help young women and spread awareness.

Even with the initial hardships of the lack of funds, I never wanted to give up on Menstrupedia. I knew I wanted to help young women and spread awareness, and I was not going to let money get in the way. If you have an idea, but don't have the proper resources to bring it to life, do not give up. There are many ways of raising money, without seed funding or raising investments. You need passion, hard work, dedication and complete obsession about what you want to achieve. Working for myself is not always easy, but it is so rewarding to know that Menstupedia is helping thousands of young women around our nation. My mission is to educate women all over India to feel comfortable in their bodies and to embrace their periods, not hide in shame because of it.

Click here to buy Menstrupedia Comic!

Get That Life is a weekly series that reveals how successful, talented, creative women got to where they are now. Check back each Friday for the latest interview.

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