Q&A With Lynette Medley, Founder, No More Secrets

Lynette Medley founded No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. in 2012 with the aim of eradicating period poverty by decreasing silence and shame and increasing conversations around self-love and self-esteem. We talked to Lynette about the work No More Secrets is doing to meet their goals, even in the midst of a global pandemic and civil rights movement.

Tell us about your organization and the people you serve. 

No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. is the nation’s first comprehensive sexuality awareness and consultative organization. Our focus is to decrease risk in vulnerable populations through the development and implementation of sustainable programming and policies. Our mission is to decrease stigmas, silence, and secrecy by increasing self-esteem, socialization, and self-love.

No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. provides consultation services and facilitates trauma-informed comprehensive programming such as individual, couples and family sessions; emergency crisis interventions; educational trainings through our community activities; speaking engagements; and workshops. We address the lack of communication related to sexuality by creating spaces to have these crucial conversations.

We encourage individuals to examine the root causes behind their feelings of frustration, hopelessness, or self-doubt. Subsequently, empowering them to shift their perspectives through the implementation of specialized programs and supports, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. provides positive lifestyle enrichments.

Was there a specific moment or experience that made you want to get involved in fighting period inequality? 

Yes, a shocking interaction with a teen client.

Hollie was just 13 when she first encountered period poverty. But the horror increased exorbitantly each year as she grew older living with her mother and four younger sisters. There was limited income for the very basics such as food and rent. So, realistically, there wasn’t any money left over for sanitary napkins or tampons. These poor little girls ended up resorting to using the most unhealthy methods imaginable just to survive their monthly period, such as socks, rags, stuffing from plushies, construction paper, scotch tape, and other makeshift supplies.

During that time of the month, it became clear that school wouldn’t be an option for Hollie and her four sisters because there was no way they could leave the house without bleeding all over themselves, causing them further humiliation. It all got to be too much for Hollie who, like so many other desperate girls, dropped out of school and left home at 16.

Unfortunately, this is all too common. And it’s not just occurring in other countries, it’s happening in our own backyard. No More Secrets Mind Body Spirt Inc. created the only feminine hygiene bank in the tri-state area and the only door-to-door feminine hygiene delivery service in the nation, personally servicing populations in our area. If period poverty and sexuality awareness are not addressed, menstruating girls will continue experiencing deficits in their safety, health, education, and overall wellbeing.

It’s a big election year—are there any propositions that tackle this topic or candidates you’re aware of who are using their platform to fight period poverty? 

Unfortunately, there are no candidates aggressively targeting period poverty and menstrual insecurity in marginalized communities. There have been some menstrual equity bills introduced but again they aren’t inclusive of persons experiencing the discriminatory effects of period poverty. If they can’t afford food, how can they afford menstrual products? The bills introduced also exclude the Black population’s voices and lived experiences. We are the only organization in the nation directly interacting with this community and it’s time for their voices to be acknowledged, heard, and understood.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about menstrual inequality? 

It’s a discriminatory practice that blatantly and knowingly withholds access to safe and affordable menstrual products to vulnerable populations. These patriarchal systems are oppressive and deliberate, and prevent a specific population from reaching their full potential.

What’s one thing you wish was a mandatory part of reproductive health education in schools? 

Menstrual health education and conversations with all gender identities about the menses and menstrual hygiene would enable open conversations about lack of access to safe products as well as educating youth about period poverty.

Period poverty is a sexual and reproductive health issue, education issue, public health, and safety issue. The lack of affordability and access to feminine hygiene products forces our youth to:

  • Use only one tampon for an entire day or one pad for multiple days
  • Take birth control pills on an ongoing basis to completely stop their menstrual cycle
  • Use alternative methods such as socks, dishrags, plushy stuffing, t-shirts, and newspapers during their cycles.

Exposes our youth to:

  • Very serious health risks such as Toxic Shock Syndrome, vaginal infections, and cervical cancer.
  • Risky behaviors such as stealing and trading sex to afford feminine hygiene products.
  • Involvement in human/sex trafficking.

Increases our youths’ chances of:

  • Contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Pregnancy to avoid having to worry about a cycle.

Missing school during menstruation has been a well-known pattern for youth in other countries. Now, the reality is setting in that this is a trend for low-income girls everywhere.

You’re starting a new campaign called Black Girls Bleed. Tell us about it. 

#BlackGirlsBleed is a social movement to address the systemic racism and oppressive practices in menstrual brands and menstrual movements that purposely exclude Black organizations and refuse to uplift their efforts in
Black communities. 

We hope the movement decreases the generational silence and stigma about the menses, especially in Black communities, and increases open conversations and information sharing.

It will be a storytelling platform for people to share their real-life experiences with their periods to break the silence and end shame by talking openly about menstruation and normalizing societal views about menstruation. 

The only way to end period poverty in vulnerable populations is to stop the stigmas and promote menstrual health awareness and proper menstrual hygiene in Black communities.

What’s the number one thing people can do to help your organization continue your great work?

“Period or not, respect the dot, it’s who we are and what we’ve got!”

We are a BIPOC-owned and led organization, founded by two black women fighting to #endperiodpoverty in all vulnerable populations, 365 days a year, by delivering a 3 month supply of free feminine hygiene products to the doors of persons experiencing economic hardships locally and shipping nationally without any corporate sponsorships. We are the only organization in the nation operating at this level of commitment. Pandemics and racial tensions did not stop us from making deliveries as they actually doubled to approximately 180 deliveries a week.

We need to be uplifted, supported and acknowledged for our tireless efforts like organizations of other colors who have not operated at all during these circumstances.

Our populations are in dire need so donate, advocate, and educate others about our efforts.

Thank you, Lynette!

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