In the '40s, talking about periods was still so taboo that far too many girls began menstruating with little to no idea about what was happening to them until their mothers intervened; but Disney made a groundbreaking animation in 1946 that changed all this for millions of young women around America.
Distributed for free across America "The Story of Menstruation" utilized the familiar Disney animation style to explain the ins and outs of what it meant to have your period in both the biological and everyday sense, and its message eventually reached 105 million girls.
Groundbreaking in its time for its use of a female narrator to talk about a subject with authority, "The Story of Menstruation" was designed to banish the shadowy fears that lurked in many young women's minds about periods. The teacher's brochure for the film states:
Fear and superstition are banished in the light of scientific fact. And common-sense rules for physical and mental health take place of rumors and taboo.
Some of the topics breached by the 10-minute long movie include:
Variation Is Beautiful
Realizing that a lot of girls feel very insecure about themselves during puberty, the film states:
"Some girls grow short, some tall, some heavy, and some slight."
The Real Nitty Gritty
Disney backed away from showing menstrual blood as red, but the film didn't hesitate to show their white rendition flowing out of the vagina. Almost certainly an animation first. Disney justified this decision by explaining:
"Pretesting, using the normal color, red, to demonstrate the discharge revealed that the audience reacted unfavorably to it."
Perhaps the filmmakers felt that the association of red blood with pain and wounds was too much for the audience.
The Disney movie also smashed superstitions about exercise, water and other general activity during a girl's period.
Check out the full movie below:
Although the film seems very dated now — thanks to some pretty blatant ideas about proper gender conduct (how to stand tall to look attractive, how to act happy for the comfort of others, even when you're not, and many more) and implies that every woman's goal is to marry and have children — it is still an important milestone in the education of young women and girls.
Were you surprised to see that Disney made a movie about periods?
(Source: Sex Goes to School: Girls and Sex Education before the 1960s image by Saint Hoax)