Periods and TV: From Disney to Mean Girls to Big Mouth!

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Shouts outs to Disney, Courtney Cox (AKA Monica Gellar) and Netflix's 'Big Mouth'.

News flash! Some people menstruate. Well, quite a lot of us actually and we have done so forever. In comparison, the first ‘motion picture’ film was exhibited in 1894 (Rutgers School of Art and Science, 2016). But it’s kind of impressive how little periods seem to exist in films, considering half the people in the world get them. So for you, we’ve found the rare mentions of periods on screen and picked our favourites! 

What TV shows and movies mention menstruation?

1946, Disney, ‘The Story of Menstruation’ 

We're starting way back, but this one is super notable in its own rite. From the dreamy intro music to the cherubic/terrifying baby (we haven’t decided which one) and the pretty straight-forward sex education, what’s not to like?!

(Well, we guess maybe the narrator telling us not to get ‘emotionally upset’ isn’t so great. And maybe some of the other advice. I’ll slump if I want to slump!). Fun fact as well, this is believed to be the first time that the word ‘vagina’ is said on screen. Not bad, Disney!

1985, Tampax Advert

We’re skipping forward quite a while here and going to a 1985 Tampax advert (a pretty empty 40 years for menstruation and films we guess!) Not so interesting you might think, but what you didn’t know was this advert was the first use of the word ‘period’ on-screen! Big clap! 

1996, Clueless

Clueless probably should be included on any film list, just on principle. But luckily, we’ve got an actual reason to include it here! We think we should always talk about our period with such casual aplomb as Cher did...

2004, Mean Girls

Another classic. Mean Girls is not only a great film, but has a pretty goddamn great menstruation mention too! Own your heavy flow and wide-set vagina! 

April 2016 - Broad City, Ilana’s "period jeans" for the TSA 

In the late 2010s, the small screen started to gather a bit of steam with positive period mentions. This includes Ilana’s ‘period jeans’ for the TSA. Can’t say we’ve tried it ourselves, but you've got to  admire Ilana’s use of menstruation to her benefit!

January 2017 - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "Period Sex" 

It’s the period anthem we’ve always needed, but never realized. Embrace period sex! (Legit a really good song too) 

September 2017 - Big Mouth, Everybody Bleeds

We’re not advocating violence, but we gotta say there is something pretty satisfying to see the throat punch that starts this song off. Another menstruation melody for you if you’re not feeling quite in the mood for the more upbeat song from ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’. Plus, giant singing tampon.  

Feb 2019 - Period. End of Sentence.

A bit more serious than the others on this list, this Oscar-winning documentary short is about a group of women in India as they learn how to make cheap, biodegradable sanitary pads and sell it to other women at reasonable prices. Fascinating watch! 

The narrative around menstruation has changed throughout the years and we're really excited to see what happens next!

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References

The Story of Menstruation. (2020, July 30). Retrieved August 20, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Menstruation

Thomas A. Edison Papers. (2016, October 28). Retrieved August 20, 2020, from https://edison.rutgers.edu/pictures.htm