Kate Winslet reveals incontinence in British TV show
By Kirsten van der Kolk
Last week actress Kate Winslet hit the nail on the head: stress urinary incontinence is a taboo. Whilst on a British talk show she confessed that she regularly pees her pants whilst sneezing or during sports. Just like LSG, I too completely agree this taboo must be broken. For social designer Julia van Zanten this topic (incontinence) became the inspiration to base her graduation project at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. She designed washable incontinence briefs.
Julia can enthusiastically tell about the process they have gone through to arrive at the Carinwear product. A story that I would like to share with you. Julia saw how incontinence affected her grandfather and was inspired to use design to do something about it. She saw how although he loved walking, he no longer felt comfortable going on longer walks given a fear of losing control of his bladder. Julia later discovered that not only elderly people suffer from incontinence problems, but also much younger women. In order to fully understand the subject she recreated the experience herself. She did this by wearing an incontinence diaper to understand how it changes your behaviour. From this she understood that “There are practical solutions in the form of incontinence pads or diapers, but they ignore the emotional and social aspects of this problem.” She was surprised at the impact wearing a diaper has on your daily life and social shame. Speaking about it is difficult and highlights the taboo.
For her thesis Julia was awarded the “New Material Award 2014. The underwear design of her graduation project has since evolved to the current underwear. Both the shape and the material is changed. All to increase comfort. For example, the slip is no longer made of bamboo, but of a light super-absorbent material, which is much more pleasant to wear. The aesthetic has also evolved into a sexy slip. Especially the black lace panties which I personally prefer; very sexy. I can say because I have one at home! Knowing that an accident is not immediately punished with wet pants also gives a lot of peace of mind. I have a friend who almost always wears dresses because of her weak bladder. No need any more (although her dresses are very nice).
Another advantage of this design is that you do not necessarily have to suffer from incontinence to wear the underwear. For example, it can be useful for extra protection during menstruation or during exercise. For I must confess that I often get pretty sweaty when I’m exercising. I wear all kinds of sportswear that drains sweat and keeps me dry, but no special underwear. Strange actually. But while running or jumping, when the risk of “accidents” is especially high, is when this underwear is especially appreciated as it prevents these accidents becoming apparent. And to make accidents a thing of the past, be sure to also train your pelvic floor muscles through the Carin Exercise app.
But back to Kate Winslet. How brave she was to talk about it on television! Hmm, unfortunately this sentence says enough about the taboo. Hopefully this blog will help to break the taboo. This is (one of) the mission(s) of the Lifesense team: To discuss and find solutions to stress incontinence and by doing so, improve the lives of many women. And I think once we present a real solution to this problem, women will be more open to discuss it with each other. Get rid of that taboo!