Menstrual education is often given in the shape of a medical lesson, focusing on period problems and products and using an anatomical model to teach about ovaries and vagina. But shouldn’t learning about your monthly bleeding also include the question why it’s still a taboo subject? Tell girls there’s no need to be ashamed of their periods? And approach the whole subject in a more playful way? With board games, colouring books, computer games, mobile apps and songs, these students, artists and designers set a great example of making menstruation education fun.
Sing along with dancing tampons
Pirate tampon puppets swinging from their strings? You’ll find them, plus some red spatters, in The Period Song. This video, released by Swedish children’s TV channel Barnkanalen aims to teach children that periods are in fact really normal. That’s done by YouTube star and TV presenter Alex Hermansson, who raps, plays the ukulele and tells boys to be extra nice to girls when they’re bleeding. The catchy chorus: ‘Period, period, hip hip hooray for period! The body’s working as it should. And that is really, really good – hooray!’ Watch it on YouTube.
Use lots of red
The colour you’ll use the most when colouring in the illustrations of the Period Coloring Book? Probably red. Canadian public health practitioner and sexual health advocate Andrea Yip came up with this book full of illustrations, from pads and menstrual underwear, to period sex and girls on the toilet. Her goal? Opening up the conversation around menstruation. More period colouring? There’s also Toni the Tampon, kid-friendly and designed by menstrual health educator Cass Clemmer. Less educational, but instead focussing on the adventures of Toni and her friends: Marina the Menstrual Cup, Sebastian the Sponge and Patrice the Pad.
Land on PMS? Play the ‘took a hot bath’ card
Every turn begins with a player turning one of the two ovaries. When a red marble comes out, you’ve got your period and are ready to play… Students of the American Rhode Island School of Design Daniela Gilsanz and Ryan Murphy developed The Period Game, a board game that teaches about what’s happening within the female body during your menstrual cycle. While playing, participants get comfortable with using words like ‘period’ and ‘tampon’. Land on PMS? Play the ‘took a hot bath’ card to continue. But beware: when suffering a leak, you have to go to the equivalent of Monopoly’s prison: the school nurse.
Eliminate your opponents with tampons
Forget about Candy Crush. In The Tampon Run, you’re helping Luna rid the world of menstruation haters by throwing tampons at them. This game was created by Sophie Houser and Andrea Gonzales, high school students from NYC who found it ridiculous that in modern society violence and guns are considered less of a taboo than tampons and menstruation. When playing, it’s pretty much collect, shoot and dodge. But beware of the Big Red Wave and make sure you don’t run out of tampons or else it’s came over. Download it in the iTunes store.
Manage your doll’s menstruation
Every little girl knows Barbie. But apart from the classic model that’d have to walk on all fours in real life (the combination of miniature feet, ultra long legs, a tiny waist and cup D breasts is virtually impossible), there’s also the Lamilly Doll. Anatomically correct, she doesn’t only look like a real woman, she even gets her period like one. The Period Party Kit for the Lamilly Doll, designed by American Nickolay Lamm, consists of colourful pads and liners stickers, a pair of panties, a menstrual calendar and an educational pamphlet. The message: ‘Menstruation isn’t terrible or embarrassing, it means that one day, if you decide, your body may give life to a new person.’
For decades, menstruation education in schools has been controlled by corporations selling disposable menstrual products. According to #periodpositive founder and menstruation education researcher Chella Quint, this has to stop. Why? Because apart from promoting their own products, these companies also reinforce menstrual taboos by associating periods with shame and secrecy. Agree with Quint? Check out her recently launched petition Brands Off!.