“When we launched Thinx, we heard from a ton of women asking whether they could wear them for bladder leaks instead,” Kejal MacDonald, Thinx's VP of marketing and 'VPee' of ICON, told Refinery29. “As they shared their woes of wetness, we noticed a really wide range of reasons they were leaking. There was a 36-year-old woman who squeezed out three big-headed kids. A 40-year-old who had a hysterectomy. A 22-year-old with Multiple Sclerosis. A 56-year-old Crossfitter.”
She continued: “They all shared how much anxiety they had about their leaky bladders, and how equally embarrassing it was to have to wear a panty liner or pad every day. We knew then that we needed create a product specifically for women with bladder leaks. Something that would eliminate their anxiety and even feel a *wee* bit sexy.”
Though Icon Undies first launched in November 2015, it's now offering more styles (originally, there were just two) and improved its technology. Available in four cuts (hi-waist, hiphugger, bikini, and thong) and colors, the items can "hold up to six teaspoons" of liquid (previously, they could hold four) and feature an "inner layer [that] is a fast-wicking and fast-drying fabric (think high-end workout gear) since bladder leaks are released all at once, compared to the relatively slow ooze of period blood," Macdonald says.
Thinx isn't just providing relief for shoppers, either. Each pee-proof panty purchase benefits The Fistula Foundation, an organization that helps women in developing countries who have a hole, or a fistula, between their vagina and internal organs, like rectum or bladder (which can occur during labor), by providing surgeries to repair the condition. And while the idea of leakage may seem like something uncommon (or at least, not talked about), Thinx is hoping to combat any preconceived stereotypes by expanding the Icon Undies range and investing more in this line of products.
“Our company exists to combat outdated cultural taboos and the embarrassment that so many humans feel when it comes to their bodies,” Macdonald says. “A few years ago, no one wanted to talk about periods. We're stoked that Thinx has played a part in changing that. By tackling what's seen as a really un-sexy topic, we're working to reverse all the negative associations that are so deep-seated in our culture. There's this misperception that leaking a little pee is only something that happens when you eat dinner at 4 p.m. and play bingo on Tuesdays (which, TBH, sounds amazing), but it happens to women of all ages.” Thinx wants that stigma to change.
"Right now, bladder leaks are even more taboo, partly because it’s something that happens to one in three women, so it's incredibly common but not as ubiquitous as getting your period," she says. "While a period is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, women who are leaking a little pee feel like something is wrong with them.”
And if adding pee-proof underwear into the mainstream will help women feel more confident (and less anxious) about their bodily functions, well, we'll consider that mission accomplished.