I love his “Dad humor” but this video is especially wonderful; he is a Dad who is not afraid to talk about periods (even if it is in a humorous way).
Random, blood-stained memories….
My mom is a nurse. I remember her sex talk happening while folding laundry and feeling clinical or matter of fact. I’m sure the period talk went the same way. I don’t remember it, so it must not have been traumatic. I’m certain my dad and brother were not part of the conversation.
I remember some of my mom’s friends congratulating me on my first period or on “becoming a woman”. I was a little embarrassed by their attention, and I think a party would have been mortifying for my younger self. I love the idea now, and I love that there are young women out there who are able to enjoy a period party. Throwing a period party is on my list of “cool things favorite Aunts do,” and I have some time to plan it because my niece is almost three.
The closest thing I remember to a period party is that when we got “the talk” in grade school, the school nurse gave us snacks afterwards. She began the period talk by telling us that she got her period that morning. What I remember most vividly is that she used Cherry 7-Up to show us how much blood a pad could hold. She splashed some on the pad and told us that was a small amount and we wouldn’t need to change the pad yet. Then she increased the amount in measured increments until it was time to change the pad. And, you guessed it, Cherry 7-Up was what she served for snack.
I remember telling one friend I got my period (I was almost 11 and in 5th grade). She had her first period around the same time. We were among the first to in our grade to get ours, so I kept my big mouth shut (because I had nothing nice to say to the lucky brats who still hadn’t had theirs).
In middle school, I often had leaks because I refused to ask for the hall pass during class and waited until lunch to change my pad. I didn’t want to carry a purse, so my pad was in my locker, in my lunch bag… I was a weird kid. Twice, I had noticeable blood on my pants and went to the nurse’s office. The first time she told me to lay down and she would send me home. I didn’t feel sick, but I must have looked like I was because, it was her idea for me to relax, not mine. The second time, she had a pair of jeans for me that I could bring back to her the next day.
As an adult, I understand that teaching kids to swim is the mark of a good high school. As a student, I felt like swim class was an opportunity for body shaming (from peers and from myself). I hated that I had to ask my mother to write a note excusing me from class because I was menstruating especially knowing that I had to make up those classes after school, before the swim team practiced, sometimes while they were practicing. I’m not sure if it was worse to sit on the bleachers during class and pretend I forgot my bathing suite (every day this week) or struggling to swim in front of the swim team. I didn’t manage to confidently use a tampon until my senior year of high school. I managed it but only after a dramatic/traumatic fail before a swim party. And, after another swim party, where my best friend told me she was using tampons while we were swimming together. I’m really thankful that she shared that with me. Carrie is the reason I do anything new that’s a little scary; she is my bravest and best friend.
I thought I finally got the hang of managing a period in college, until I accidentally bought scented tampons and didn’t have the time or money to correct the error.
While I was teaching, I used a tampon and a pad at the same time, because teachers never seem to get bathroom breaks when they need them.
I made the switch to using a cup after learning about reusable menstrual products while working with Days for Girls. I’ll never go back.
I wouldn’t have said that I experienced period shame, but maybe I did and didn’t know what to call it, and perhaps thought those feelings were normal. With the rise of the period party, some de-stigmatizing must have happened over the last 25 years. So, when did the conversations change? When did it become less taboo to talk about periods? How can we continue cultivate that change? How do we empower young women?
My periods seem to be named “damn it” or “thank goodness”. In the video he mentioned calling a period “Flo” which seems predictable, but “Jason” is still making me giggle. What other names do people use?
What should be on the list for period party food and drinks? I have several years to plan one for my niece, so it needs to be epic.
And of course, the ministry question: Could a period party be part of the church’s culture? Is this something the Presbyterian Women could do for young women in our congregation? Imagine the shared wisdom, love, and funny stories generations of women could share in that context.