Lauren Bille Translates Taboo Topics into Everyday Power

Lauren Bille, co-founder of AllBodies, explores how a passion for movement building (and a lack of technical sex expertise) helped her build an unprecedented platform for reproductive & sexual health.



Lauren Bille Translates Taboo Topics into Everyday Power

“I want the shame to dissipate around the body and around sex. I want healthcare in America to be an empowering, informative experience. What better way than to start with this core part of healthcare?”

Lauren wears the Scoop in Clay and the Bikini in Clay

Lauren Bille is the co-founder of AllBodies, an unprecedented platform for reproductive and sexual health. Lauren and her team have combined everything you need to take power over your body – education, tools and expert support – all in one place.  

“We’re building the modern resource for reproductive and sexual health. We’re calling it a marketplace and to us that means that we are connecting patients with all the practitioners, providers, new products, and innovations. AllBodies [gives] you a bunch of information and options so you can figure out what is right for you. That’s our whole thing. We are so disempowered when it comes to our bodies. Women in particular. Knowledge is power, duh, but I had never before felt the embodiment of [that truth] to the extent that I do with this work.”

Today, more than ever, women are seeking knowledge of – and power over – their own bodies, but when Lauren and her co-founder Ashley Spivak joined forces in 2017, this was a whitespace desperate for innovation, connection, and authentic voices. 

“You know how all the dots only connect later, when you look back? I wasn’t always into reproductive rights or sexual health. But I was passionate about injustice, oppression, how it happens. I studied movement building in college. Where does power come from? How did Hitler get away with what he did? How did MLK accomplish what he did? How do you influence people to make change happen? How did things get so unfair in this country? I had this desire both to build movements and to fix inequities. I just didn’t know that [sexual health] would be the genre of inequity that I would work on.” 

Lauren wears the Balc in Black and the Highwaist in Black

In 2017, Lauren was leading Mediclub – a mass meditation community in New York – and using what she had learned about movement-building in college to build community around her. Over 300 people would show up for these monthly meditation events, including her future co-founder Ashley, who instantly recognized Lauren’s innate talent for bringing people together.

Lauren and Ashley started planning a wellness expo to connect women with products, experts, and brands in this space. Over the past two years, there has been an explosion of direct to consumer brands entering the sex & wellness space, but in 2017, when Lauren and Ashley were planning their first event, this new wave of innovation was just beginning to surface. When over 900 people lined up around the block, they realized they were tapping into something powerful. 

“We did some more events, and they kept turning out really, really well. We had something going for us. More than anything, we felt like we had a responsibility. People kept saying, “I’ve never heard this about birth control. Where can I find this?” But we hadn’t built anything online. We just had a zine, because we are crafty girls from the ‘90s, you know? It was clear as we grew that we needed to build a resource.” 

“When we dissected our first event, we realized we had brought three things together. These three things made up our special sauce. We pronged it as: learn, shop, find help.” 

Lauren wears the Scoop in Clay and the Bikini in Clay

‘SHOP’ is a marketplace of products that help anyone who is menstruating, getting pregnant, going through pregnancy or has just given birth. You can find at-home sperm tests, sex pillows, fertility kits, resuable pads and countless other products that used to sit on more obscure shelves.

‘HELP’ is a database that connects you with curated network of practitioners across a range of modalities. That range includes naturopathic doctors, herbalists, and alternative methods, while still honoring western practices. 

‘LEARN’ is a content & resource hub that provides unprecedented access to reproductive education. Yet it  doesn’t read anything like a medical database. Lauren is translating these topics for a generation that is sick of being shameful about the issues that affect us so intimately. Formerly fringe issues are written about with familiar tones and bold titles, such as “Pop Goes Your Amniotic Sac: AKA Water Breaking 101” and “Vaginal Tenting: It’s Why Penetration Feels So Good, Baby!” All the questions women used to google in private are now answered in a sunny voice that packs equal parts information and innuendo.  

 

 

“Our content is authentic. Our voice is me learning all of this as I go. Ash knows a lot of it as a practitioner, but I don’t, so I’m more our audience. She came to the table with an encyclopedia of knowledge. I came in as a new person, who didn’t know what any of these words meant, and said “You have to say it more chill than that.”"

Lauren is the voice behind social media too, where the questions get even louder. One post asks, “HAVE YOU HEARD OF LIGHTNING CROTCH?” The next warns, “Alert! IT’S NOT SAFE TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH RIGHT AFTER GIVING ORAL SEX.” A very popular post answers the question that one in three women are probably wondering, “WHAT IS THAT FISHY SMELL coming out of my vagina?” The tone of these articles, Lauren argues, is just as important as the topics. 

“What is that fishy smell? Bacterial Vaginosis. The PH is off. That’s all it is. It’s not even a big deal. One and three people have it. 89% of our users are women, but we really need men to be part of this, too. I need my partner to be cool with me talking about BV. I want a world where my partner is like, “Oh man, I know that smell, it’s BV!”"

While the “LEARN” hub continues to grow, Lauren points out that we have plenty more to learn by listening to our own bodies. 

“Ash and I are spiritual creatures. We believe that our bodies have a lot of knowledge. If we listen to them, they give us signs and information. We both have had our own experiences of being ignored, or hushed by a doctor, or someone when we were speaking up. And we both ended up being right about something being wrong with our bodies. Since founding AllBodies, we’ve both noticed that the [instinctive] feeling in your stomach is almost always right. I think that’s embodiment. Everyone calls it something different. A yoga teacher would call it something different than a scientist.”  

Lauren wears the Balc in Black and the Highwaist in Black

“AllBodies was originally called Cycles and Sex, referring to hormonal cycles. As our vision started expanding, we started experimenting with ways to grow. We had been growing organically, but what if we ran some ads or thought about SEO? We started running into a lot of trouble, because the internet does not like the word ‘sex.’ At all. The times are behind what we are doing. We were stuck in our ability to grow and reach more people because we had the word ‘sex’ in our name.” 

“We were also finding, especially as we expanded our practitioner network, that having the word sex presented a higher barrier to entry. That word is too crass for some people. There was this cool female practitioner that we met from the Hasidic Jewish community. She is a gynecologist and her community loves her, but she was really freaked out by the name of our company and felt it was hard for her to associate with us. That makes a lot of sense. We want her to be part of our network, and for these women to be able to visit our site. As we broke down our vision and values and mission, we really just wanted it to be about embodiment. I don’t know how it eventually came up, but I really like the name AllBodies. I think it gives us a lot of room to grow.” 

That room for growth is invaluable in a cultural landscape where women’s opinions on fertility, motherhood, marriage, and menstruation continue to shift and take shape. As Lauren and her team evolve their resources and platform, Lauren is also taking note of evolving belief systems. 

Lauren wears the Balc in Black and the Highwaist in Black

“Women are getting married later, if we get married at all. We’re questioning all our belief systems. Why do we think we need to have a kid? Is it even good to bring a kid into this current environment? All those things are happening. People are rethinking all the structures and as a result, not having kids right away.” 

The AllBodies solution is not to provide a final answer, but to open the door to education and access. It’s not always about the most innovative procedure out there, but the knowledge to understand your options and form your own opinions.  

“AllBodies provides resources, but I have my own opinions. I haven’t frozen my eggs, and I don’t think I’m going to. I don’t think I believe in it! I’m 36 years old, and I do want to have children. I’m totally for having children if circumstances work, but I’d also love my life if it doesn’t happen. Before I started working in this space, I had obviously heard about egg freezing, because it’s a hot topic for anyone who wants a career. The more that I learn, and the more I meet these naturopaths, the more I believe there are a lot of holistic ways to keep your fertility strong, to revitalize it. So I haven’t invested in any alternative methods. I haven’t even done one of those tests that we carry.” 

“I think a lot of women have been in the dark about their bodies, and unless you’re trying to have a baby, you haven’t really thought, what should I be paying attention to? It’s an exciting time, because we do have all these tools and people are paying attention, but I would say we are still pretty far off from a place where people are tapped into their fertility, where they understand their hormones and blood levels, and where they are making changes to improve these things.”

Lauren wears the Scoop in Clay and the Bikini in Clay

“Fertility is totally related to a hormone balance happening inside of my body, and I could throw it off by eating the wrong vitamins. Hormones, in general, are so interesting to me. I want to understand them more, and to help others understand them more. Even if I’m having a painful period, there is probably a remedy for it [that starts with] hormonal cycles.” 

“It’s so exciting to learn about my body, to pay really close attention to it, and to understand what’s happening to it every month. It’s empowering. It allows me to be close to my body and to care about it. That [attention & care] is an underlying part of fertility.”

“It’s crazy that it’s 2019 and women are still lacking so much information about their bodies! That’s why I have to build it. Sometimes Ash and I are like, let’s just make a product, man. Maybe a belt or deodorant? I don’t know. It’s way chiller than what we are trying to do. But I feel like I have to at least give it my all, because it doesn’t exist. “ 

 Interview by Kate Mack. Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam. 

Tags: bodytalk , health & wellness

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Comments

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I don’t know why the comments bar from the ‘bodytalk’ article keeps redirecting me to a different comments bar… but I just want to say Lauren Bille is an inspiration. Courageous, smart and powerful. You go, girl!

Chuck Zalac

Sep 2019


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