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All bodies deserve dignity. This week’s Motivational Mondays guest, Dana Marlowe, founded I Support the Girls to connect disadvantaged women and people who menstruate with the hygiene products they need to live comfortable, dignified, and productive lives. Marlowe tells the story of how her simple desire to do something useful with her old bras turned into a non-profit and a nationwide movement to combat period poverty.
Finding Her Mission
“Homeless women need bras.” These were the four words that began Marlowe’s journey toward what would become I Support the Girls. After a year of pursuing self-care and health, Marlowe was in need of new bras. Unsure what to do with intimate items she believed couldn’t be donated, Dana asked the woman fitting her for her new bras if she had any suggestions. This conversation steered Marlowe in the direction of homeless shelters.
Bras are often considered a luxury or a choice, but Marlowe reminds listeners that for many, bras can be a necessity to help prevent back pain and improve posture. Organizations like I Support the Girls provide basic dignity for homeless women, women impacted by natural disasters, and more.
Building a Movement
Marlowe quickly realized bras were the single most requested item by women at homeless shelters, but also the least donated. On a hunch, Marlowe asked if the shelter needed anything else, and the employee told her about the urgent need for menstrual products. Marlowe gladly went to the local big box store to pick up the items to add on to her donations, but she couldn’t help but wonder if other people like her wanted to help.
“I took it from there and I decided to post on Facebook and the response blew up,” she tells Powell in this week’s episode. “My 16 bras immediately doubled, tripled, quadrupled.” Ultimately that first donation went from just 16 bras to more than 1,000, along with over 7,100 maxi pads and tampons.
Combating Period Poverty
Over the course of this week’s episode, Marlowe provides a master class in overcoming challenges in her quest to improve people’s lives. In addition to finding ways to manage the sheer volume of donations flowing into the organization, Marlowe also had to find ways to provide support to all the partner organizations in need — including those involved in disaster relief.
Marlowe tells Powell that menstrual health is often forgotten about during evacuations, and federal programs ignore the need for maxi pads and tampons until it’s too late. Now, I Support the Girls has become so well known that the American Red Cross sends emails every month requesting support for disaster victims. And Marlowe answers the call to help people in need of menstrual health products.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:11] The catalyst for Marlowe to launch her non-profit
[9:18] How a Facebook post transformed Marlowe’s donation into a movement
[11:48] Women’s struggle for bodily autonomy
[21:36] Education for men about the necessity of feminine hygiene products
[24:28] The surprising moment that made Marlowe realize her impact
Listen to the bonus episode to learn the ways Marlowe has keyed into social media culture to promote awareness of period poverty and hear a story illustrating just how unembarrassing knowledge about periods can be.
- Learn more about I Support the Girls’ programs and campaigns.
Join the movement: Volunteer to help I Support the Girls.
- Find out where you can donate feminine hygiene products and gently-used or new bras.
- Follow the journey and learn about upcoming events and campaigns by following I Support the Girls on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or LinkedIn.
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes