Women are constantly told by society who and what they are and need to be. This is an unfortunate reality of society and has been throughout much of recorded history. Women’s identities are — and have been — routinely compartmentalized based on their appearance, values, and perceived skills, often by others who have never taken the time to walk in their shoes. Rather than being appreciated simply for who they are, women are regularly met with roadblocks and challenges throughout their lives.
The realm of women’s health is sadly no different, and female athletes such as Mitchella Gilbert often face an even greater number of health-related issues and hurdles to overcome while being left in the dark as to why. So imagine Gilbert’s shock when a routine visit to her OB/GYN revealed that leggings, the things she wore constantly as an athlete, make women twice as likely to develop feminine health issues.
Gilbert was mad. Like, big mad. We’re talking the “I’m fixing this” kind of mad.
After some digging through academic journals and online research reports, it became clear to Gilbert just how many millions of women were secretly dealing with vaginal issues, either out of shame or because there were no solutions available to them. From her own experiences as a woman, athlete, product designer and employee for Nike, Gilbert knew that leggings were not designed with women’s comfort, health, and lifestyle needs in mind. So, in the spirit of any self-driven entrepreneur, she persisted, and the concept for OYA was born.
Modern problems require modern solutions
The CDC reports that 75% of women will battle vaginal infections in their lifetime. Of that number, 30% of all women have bacterial vaginosis at any given time, and 26% of all women have urinary incontinence at any given time. Women of color are also particularly susceptible to
Studies and OB/GYNs alike agree that sportswear leggings exacerbate these issues since wearing tight, non-breathable clothing makes women twice as likely to develop yeast infections as leakages in non-absorbent clothing create damp environments for bacteria and pathogens to thrive. To give an idea of the broader scope of these issues, one study from the Infectious Diseases Society of America reported that yeast infections cost female patients roughly $368M in total medical treatments during 2014, with an average per-patient cost of $91 per incident.
Since leggings were first invented, many legging manufacturers have widely ignored these issues to instead focus on marketing their products to women with conventional body types and fewer health needs, leaving most other women struggling to find affordable and decent-quality leggings. Rather than fall in line with these manufacturers, Gilbert and her company believe that all women deserve supportive, stylish, and comfortable leggings. As such, when founding OYA, Gilbert set out as the company’s CEO to find ways to engineer leggings for overlooked segments of women and disrupt the leggings market.
From her own experiences as a woman and a consumer, Gilbert knew that leggings were not designed with women’s comfort, health and lifestyle needs in mind, which is what Gilbert seeks to change through her company’s OB/GYN-approved leggings.
“OYA aims to make every woman feel amazing exactly how she is,” Gilbert said. “We embrace and celebrate our strong bodies without feeling the need to change anything about them.”
A new kind of health-conscious legging for women
According to Gilbert, OYA’s leggings support their wearers in a plethora of ways.
“To offer some quick numbers on our products: OYA leggings are three times more absorbent and five times more breathable than the average legging,” Gilbert mentioned, “and the design includes twelve more panels than the average legging in order to create a better fit.”
Gilbert’s goal with OYA’s leggings is to allow their customers to feel supported, held in, and fresh in every legging they wear, so that they feel confident moving through their lives without worrying about any accidents happening that could ruin their day.
“We want women to feel like they are giving their vaginas and their bodies the care and love they deserve,” Gilbert added. “Our patented system provides customers with comfort and relief from everyday symptoms of hormonal changes and the inconveniences that come with feminine health issues. The system includes strategically placed mesh panels that promote air flow and breathability, as well as a removable and washable sistem pad that is antimicrobial, moisture wicking, absorbent, and ventilated.”
When asked about how Gilbert came up with the name for her company, she pointed us to a Yoruba warrior goddess of the same name. In African mythology, Oya (pronounced “oh-yah”) is a goddess of storms, change, transformation, female leadership and rebirth.
“We draw upon her strength as inspiration for the type of community and persona we want to create,” said Gilbert.
To learn more about Gilbert, OYA, and their new innovative leggings, visit wearoya.com today.