Are you ready to continue the conversation about periods & disability?
August and Liberare have partnered up with 3 amazing disabled babes to talk about disability, menstruation and feeling sexy.
- Liberare is the inclusive lingerie brand designed by disabled babes for easier dressing.
- August is the sustainable, unapologetic and gender inclusive period care brand that ACTUALLY works.
Together, we listened to the insights of our 3 models about how their disability affects their period and what they're looking for in accessible period products and disability-inclusive underwear!
Meet Krystal (she/her)
Nadya Okamoto (August’s CEO and resident Period Fairy) interviewed Krystal about her life, job, modeling, tattoos, periods and so much more. Nadya and Krystal immediately hit it off and Nadya said while interviewing, we couldn’t stop fangirling over Krystal for her personality and energy – “everything about her is so beautiful”.
So beautiful in fact that she WALKED NYFW just a few days before joining us for this chat.
So let’s let Krystal introduce herself…
Nadya: And where were you born and raised?
Krystal: I was born in Chicago, South Side. I moved out here in 2010 after grad school, and I've been out here ever since.
I went to Illinois Institute of Technology. I got my Masters of Science in rehabilitation, counseling, psychology.
Krystal now has a full-time job doing vocational rehab counseling.
Nadya: Can you tell us a little bit about your disability journey?
Krystal: I was born with my disability. My main disability is spina bifida which is incomplete spine development.
It affects all my lower extremities. Sometimes I have sensations in one leg, sometimes, in the same place on the other leg. I won't feel it. So, weakness in my legs.
I have some organ damage a little bit, because I had some other things going. And I have chronic kidney disease.
I got a plethora of things, but those are the main ones.
Nadya: Would you mind speaking about your period journey as well?
Krystal: I got my period once when I was maybe twelve or 13. Just a little bit. And I was like, what's going on?
And then I had this extreme pain and it wouldn't go away. And we found out that one of my ovaries was inflamed like a grapefruit, so they had to take everything out.
Krystal kindly pointed out the scar on her abdomen from that surgery before explaining that, essentially, she went through menopause at age 13.
Even though Krystal doesn’t get a period anymore…she still uses some period products. Let’s hear why!
Krystal: I still use the products because in a chair and being disabled, it's kind of difficult sometimes, and I need to be comfortable…in this area. (gestures to her lower body area)
I use liners I use every day just because it’s not cute to sit in sweat…And, you know, when you take different medications, the vagina does what it does and sometimes it extracts stuff and you're like, oh, yeah, we need to catch that instead of putting it on this cushion. (aka the seat of Krystal’s wheelchair)
And when I fly, or when I'm traveling long distance, I use the bulkier pads just in case I can't get to the bathroom – especially on airplanes….I can't even put my whole cheek on the plane so it doesn't even matter. So I use that just to keep me safe and clean.
At this point, Nadya encouraged Krystal to change into an organic cotton August liner before she left the set because they're a lot softer and not crinkly since they have no plastic in them (true story!)
Krystal was excited to try August liners for this reason…
Krystal: I'm excited because I know sometimes when I sit, and depending on the underwear, [liners] will give me rashes or irritation because I'm sitting and it's still just constant contact.
Nadya: Do you think that there could be anything different about period pads?
Krystal: I think, for those that have really difficult hand dexterity, the opening could be easier.
Like, even with your liners the little sticky part can sometimes be difficult for the fine motors. So maybe something that's easier to just rip off.
At this point, Krystal highlighted that modifying packaging and functionality is all about consideration of accessibility.
Nadya: What do you wish companies who had a platform would do about branding of their products?
Krystal: Just put me in them. Let me see ME in the advertising. Let me see ME talking. Not me, per se, but someone with a disability. Whether it’s physical or invisible – whatever it is, let me know that I’m in mind when you design some of these products.
Nadya: You're just radiating self-confidence and obviously your self-love tattoos which we love…can I ask, have you always felt like that?
Krystal: No. Not at all.
I think that…once I started to believe what everybody already saw – that's when it started.
So I'll say maybe after high school? Cos’ I was just living. I'm like, I'm disabled. I don't know what I'm going to do…
It was funny, my high school guidance counselor was like: “Krystal, you’re really smart. What are you going to do after high school?” to which she responded “nothing…collect SSI and just live”.
Luckily for Krystal and her future however, her guidance counselor pointed out all of her existing skills and attributes, and encouraged her to apply for scholarships at junior colleges.
After that Krsytal said, “Okay, I know what I'm supposed to do.”
Nadya: What makes you feel sexy?
Krystal: Comfort. I need comfort. I don't like stuff that I can't move in.
I'm always moving in my chair. Right? It's always a restriction. So anything that I can move in and obviously I can move in this.
But this was not Krystal’s first time wearing Liberare – she has a lot of reasons to love it.
It's so much easier, especially in the front, because my hands will get frozen and I'm like, “oh my God, how am I gonna take this bra off. It's stuck. Help me.”
So I love the front, I love the magnets, I love the hooks. I love everything about it.
Nadya: Did you grow up with lingerie that was accessible?
Krystal: No, we [Krystal and her mom] made it. We would cut it. We would get little stickies. We’d get a little tape.
We just made it work. My mom and I made it work.
And now we have this [pointing to her Liberare lingerie]. Slowly people are coming around…Universal design is where it's supposed to be.
Despite being a confident, educated, disabled powerhouse, Krystal still has days when she feels low.
Krystal: I have days when I'm horrible and achy and tired of the world and…men, society, government, everybody just, you know…but, I know who I am.
Nadya: What do you think inspires that self-confidence?
And without missing a beat Krystal responded.
Krystal: My mommy! She has the same birthday as Frida too, so I think that's another reason. (One of Krystal’s ultimate role models is fellow disability legend, Frida Kahlo!)
And the people I keep around me – I keep genuine people around me. It's very small…
And then just go where I'm loved, not where I am “just accepted” because you know the difference when you're in a situation where you’re like, “I'm just tolerated here” – so I go where I'm accepted and not tolerated.
Nadya: Tell me about the impact your mom had.
Krystal: My mother? She raised me as a child without a disability:
Why aren't you doing your chores?
Why aren't you cooking?
Why are you getting bad grades?
Why you didn't clean your room?
She raised me as if I didn't have a disability. And so that was my foundation.
Nadya: What do you wish people who didn't have a disability knew in terms of interacting or conversations, in your daily life?
Krystal: Just be compassionate. I think that's what's lacking – like, everyday compassion.
Everybody’s going through something. Everybody. Even people that have a smile on their face…No one's pain is greater than the other. Everybody's struggling.
Thank you, Krystal!
We wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to Krystal for sharing her story, her power, and her beauty with us to talk about disabilities and periods, all well dressed in sexy lingerie.
Find Krystal on Instagram & Tiktok, and book her for her next modeling gig because…she just walked NYFW! And every set would benefit from her energy!
If you’re excited about smashing taboos in the period and disability space, you’ve come to the right place. Check out even more August x Liberare content by reading about Bri and Elicia and their period and disability story. Follow along for more!