In conversation with

Liv Cassano

Editor at Daye

Liv Cassano editor of Daye

Introduction

Introduction

What does it mean to live in a woman’s body today? This is the question the editor of Daye, Liv Cassano, is trying to answer through Vitals, the content platform she heads up for the fem-tech company on a mission to help women take control of their health.

Soon Daye will be launching the world’s first pain-relieving tampon – infused with CBD to help fight period cramps – as well as a health app which will enable women to track their period and pose questions to the company’s in-house doctor.

But it’s the editorial side of the business which Liv oversees, publishing interviews, educational pieces on the benefits of CBD, as well as deep-dives into the complicated (and still under-researched) subjects of endometriosis, contraception and menstrual cycles.

We’ve worked with Liv on a column since Daye launched Vitals, interviewing the likes of Zing Tsjeng, Tahmina Begum and Tolly Dolly Posh. Here we sat down with her to discuss how she’s re-writing the narrative around women’s health.

Question and Answer

What’s a narrative about women that really shaped your life?

I don’t know if it’s a narrative, but I remember finding my mom’s school diary from when she was a teenager. It had all these feminist scribbles on it, which lead me to learn about the feminist movement. I must have been no older than 12, and I just found it so cool that it made me want to be a feminist too. I suppose that offset all the damaging stereotypical messages about women we’re taught growing up—anti-sexism damage control, if you will. I also grew up around a lot of very strong women, so that played a huge part.

What are some of the messages/stories you remember around periods, period-care?

I’ve always had an oddly positive relationship with my period—I say “oddly” because growing up everyone else seemed to hate menstruation. When all my peers dreaded getting their first period, I couldn’t wait. I remember hanging out with my brother’s friends (they were a few years older than me), and they were all moaning about being on their period and how much they loathed it. At one point I said “I can’t wait until I get my first period”, and they looked at me like I was a freak. In Italy (where I grew up) you don’t talk about periods or sex publicly, it’s up to your family and peers to broach these subjects. So ultimately I mirrored my mom’s attitude to periods, and I’m grateful for that.

That being said, I was terrified of tampons! Not entirely sure why… I suppose because they went inside your body, and I hadn’t had intercourse yet at that time. The first time I tried them it was because my best friend wanted to go swimming at the beach and she forced me to buy some. I went through the whole box before managing to insert one, and when it was time to take it out I was convinced I was pulling out my whole damn uterus. I used pads for years until I eventually got over my (admittedly irrational) fear of tampons.

What were you doing before Daye, and why was this role the right one for you?

I was a freelance sex and wellness journalist—or as I like to say, I was a professional pervert. I wrote about anything that went inside or came out of vaginas, and anything associated with them. For a straight woman, I’m fairly obsessed with vulvas. I focused mostly on de-stigmatising female pleasure, but I also often wrote about reproductive health, periods, and unpacking the taboos around female genitals.

That’s kind of how I joined Daye. Valentina had been following my work for a year and she asked to meet to tell me about the brand. When we finally met, I was so excited that I wanted to write about Daye, but that quickly turned into me freelancing for Daye, and then eventually joining full-time. Freelance journalism has its perks but I missed full time employment, and I was excited to join a company that cares about the female reproductive system as much as I do! I’m so inspired by our mission and blown away by how dedicated the whole team is.

daye books

Why is the Daye story necessary?

Female reproductive health needs have been largely ignored—and female pain mostly sidelined (especially if you’re a WOC). It affects our quality of life in every way, and there’s a huge discrepancy between men and women’s healthcare. Erectile dysfunction studies outnumber PMS studies 5 to 1; most people with a uterus have to go through at least 4 different types of contraceptive methods before finding one that works for them (and 60% of pill users discontinue after a year because of the side effects), while cis men can easily use condoms (which are cheap, very effective, have no side effects and are the only method that protects from STIs) but somehow the burden of birth control relies entirely on women; science still can’t make sense of what causes PCOS and endometriosis, nor what the cure is; and because of the manufacturing monopoly in the tampon industry, sanitary products are taxed as a luxury even though they’re a basic necessity for half of the population. These are all discrepancies we’re addressing at Daye.

liv cassano editor of daye
liv cassano editor of daye

Why was it important for you to build a content platform before even launching the product? What conversations did you want to have?

The content we publish is in many ways the first contact people have with Daye, and since product development takes a while (especially when you don’t take shortcuts) we wanted at the very least to offer people content to consume. I want Vitals to become the go-to source for anyone to learn about female reproductive and sexual health, both from an educational and medical point of view, and from a more conversational one.

There’s a huge spectrum when it comes to writing about women’s health and a lot of debate around things like Goop. How did you define your approach?

We operate in two highly unregulated industries—tampon manufacturing and CBD—and there’s a lot of educating to do in regards to both. Everything I write for Vitals is researched and backed by science, but I try to present it in a way that is as accessible and digestible as possible. If anything is based on anecdotal proof, I make sure to state that, and annoyingly when it comes to female health a lot of the time the research is lacking. I also try to remember that health is completely subjective, and it there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. All we can do is provide the knowledge and tools that allow people to understand their bodies better and be their own health advocates.

There are a lot of organic tampon brands out there, what have been some of the brand decisions you’ve made to help you stand out?

Although we sell tampons, we’re an R&D company first and foremost. The biggest factor that sets us apart is that we self-regulate and treat our tampons as medical devices (even though they’re not classified as such in Europe), so our manufacturing is unprecedented in the tampon industry. We produce our tampons in pharmaceutical-grade clean rooms and sanitise them in their final packaging; lab-test every bath of fibres and CBD we use and make sure there is no microbial or chemical residue; and implement strict quality control within our supply chain. We’re also the first tampon company to conduct extensive clinical trials on their product—believe it or not, manufacturers aren’t required to test tampons on humans.

Magazines at Daye
"I want Vitals to become the go-to source for anyone to learn about female reproductive and sexual health."

Are there any writers that you really admire when it comes to reading about women’s health?

Vicky Spratt, Lydia Morrish, and Natalie Gil to name a few. As a resource for women’s health I also recommend The Femedic.

What about any books or novels that explore women’s health in an interesting or surprising way?

Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski was life-changing. It should be mandatory reading for every man, woman and child. I also really enjoyed Sara Pascoe’s Animal, which is as funny as it is informative.

The Storylist

Liv's Storylist

Books

  1. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
  2. Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
  3. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  4. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio

Magazines

  1. Ash
  2. gal-dem
  3. Ache

Websites

  1. Refinery 29
  2. The Femedic

Podcasts

  1. This Might Get Weird
  2. In Good Company by Otegha Uwagba
  3. Professional Freelancer by Anna Codrea-Rado
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