© 2019 Andrea Yip

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A Modern Day Period Starter Kit

July 2014

Hello Flo’s latest viral video, First Moon Party, made me appreciate the company’s refreshingly positive and hilarious take on menstruation. The ad shows a young girl so eager to get her first period that she fakes it, prompting mom to throw her an awkward and over the top ‘First Moon’ party as punishment for lying. What I love is that the messaging counters our common perceptions of first menstruation as dreadful, embarrassing, and what many have affectionately nicknamed “the curse”. 

 

Periods are a natural part of being human and quite phenomenal when you consider how and why people menstruate in the first place. Consider: the body cyclically prepares itself for pregnancy so it may nurture, grow and birth new life…and we can actively manipulate these complex processes using contraception. In fact, it’s a good reminder of just how remarkable our bodies are.

As a former sexual health educator, I think it’s important to embrace and normalize menstruation, even before that very first period. This means that it is crucial to encourage young and soon-to-be menstruators to learn about their bodies in a manner that is honest, open and accurate, and enables them to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. This also means calling things out as they are (i.e. that “va-jay-jay” means "vagina") and creating awareness around the full gamut of menstrual care options available to menstruators so they can make choices that suit their needs and interests.

I’ve seen a lot of “starter kits” for new menstruators — googling around gives you a sense of what these look like. Most contain what you might expect: pads, tampons, painkillers, etc. I decided to jot down some of my own ideas:

  1. Mirror: A mirror can serve as a very simple yet powerful educational tool for understanding parts of the body that cannot be easily seen on a day to day basis. It can also clarify where exactly to insert a tampon, sponge or cup.

  2. Extra underwear: Important backup for any spillage.

  3. Sweets: A little sugar to help distract from cramps.

  4. Diary: A personal health record for keeping track of the flow and the experience.

  5. Painkillers: To combat aches and pains.

  6. Tampons: A good option for those comfortable with insertion.

  7. Pads: Can be reusable or non-reusable.

  8. Menstrual cup: An insertable, reusable yet less popular option.

  9. Sponge: Not to be confused with the contraceptive sponge, this is an option made of naturally occurring materials.

I think it’d be great to see all of these items in one kit as it offers more options than what you would typically find in the “feminine hygiene” aisle of your local pharmacy.

For fun, I illustrated this list using a visual style inspired by Wes Anderson. See below. And in case you’re wondering, the spoon is how I visually think about the amount of menstrual fluid generated per period (2-4 tablespoons on average). Enjoy!