Periods have been kept on the hush hush in popular culture. For some reason no one wants to talk about them, despite women the world over experiencing them once a month. Thankfully in recent years this taboo subject has become more accepted as a topic of conversation that won't make people gasp and faint, and it’s about time our menstruation references were updated from those in Judy Blume books. Here are some of our favourite modern mentions…
Watching Anna Chlumsky as Vada in ‘My Girl’ navigate growing up was oh so relatable, and the scene where she gets her first period is equal parts dramatic and hilarious. “I’m hemorrhaging!” is one of the most iconic lines as she bolts downstairs in a panic, and then demanding poor old Thomas J to not come back for 5 to 7 days. We've all been our girl Vada at one point.
Big Mouth is never afraid to talk about all the awkward and embarrassing things to happen during puberty. Seriously, go watch it. It's one of the best shows to ever come out of Netflix. In the episode where Jessi gets her first period, it happens on a class trip while she’s wearing white shorts - we’ve all experienced similar unfortunate emergencies ladies! And of course there’s also a giant tampon singing ‘Everybody Bleeds’, because duh.
Nobody talked too openly about periods when Grease came out in 1978, so it was ahead of its time when everyone’s favourite Pink Lady worried about being pregnant, and announced that she “skipped a period”. The detail doesn’t go further than that, but in its day this would have been quite the scandal, and being so open about it was just one of the things that made Rizzo one of the best characters. I think we also found our next period mood - "I feel like a defective typewriter" - iconic.
This now infamous scene from Superbad divides opinion; some think it portrays periods negatively, while others consider the male characters’ overreaction to be quite a chuckle. It’s not ideal to see a bunch of guys laugh at Jonah Hill’s character after a dancing girl gets her period on his trousers, but nevertheless, it has become an iconic scene, and was even confirmed to be based on true events by writer Seth Rogen. We’d prefer to see more comedy where period blood isn’t made to look like the end of the world, but seeing Jonah try to disguise it as Merlot still makes us giggle.
Ashton Kutcher can pretty much do no wrong, and he absolutely nails it in No Strings Attached by bringing Natalie Portman’s character and her roommates a period mixtape, containing songs such as Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2, I’ve Got The World On A String by Frank Sinatra, and Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis. Simply genius. Also, let's all agree now that Natalie's character's best friend is one of the most underrated characters ever delivering yet again another iconic period moment with the line "It's like a crime scene in my pants" - girl same.
Stephen King’s famous horror novel Carrie begins with some intense bullying, and we’d like to think that in real life girls would be kinder to someone who just got her first period. Carrie’s mother has kept her in the dark when it comes to menstruation, so when it starts in the shower at school she doesn’t understand. Her classmates mock her relentlessly, chanting “plug it up”. This bullying scene really highlights the shame around periods - not cool!
Even those incredibly comfortable with period blood could feel a little queasy watching this scene. When Piper enters a women’s prison she experiences some brutal hazing, which includes being served a bloody tampon in a sandwich. Orange Is The New Black isn’t afraid to show period blood at various points in the series, and it’s a refreshing change from the prudish norm.
Friends is still one of the most popular sitcoms, but would you believe that in all 10 seasons, and despite 3 of 6 main characters being women, there was just one single mention of periods? In the episode "The One Where Rachel Has A Baby", Monica does some speedy "period math" to figure out if she is ovulating. A fleeting but important moment, since nobody else wanted to mention periods on one of the most successful shows of all time.
The world still hasn’t gotten over GoT, and though the series is fantasy, it tends to give a nod to what medieval life would have been like. In one episode, 14-year-old Sansa learns that she is "flowering", (AKA getting her period). But flowering isn’t as joyful as it sounds, because the pressure is suddenly on for her to marry and have children, as it likely would be for a young woman in medieval times.
In 2014, musician Kiran Gandhi got her period the night before running the London Marathon. In the name of comfort, she made the decision to run tampon-free, and completed the 26.2 mile race with a visible blood stain between her legs. The photos caused a stir around the world, but her decision to keep running when others might have stopped to clean up or even quit the race, is very admirable, and started a long-overdue conversation about how we view periods. She is a hero in our books. You can watch Gandhi’s own account of the marathon below.
Got a great period pop culture moment you want to share with us? Give a shout-out in our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period subscription box can get organic tampons (and more) delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox. That's more time for Netflix and whatever.
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