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12/20/2008

(VIDEO): Menstruation Education Courtesy Of Disney And Kotex!

Disney & Kotex paired up to produce this video clip in 1946 (posted on YouTube). I stumbled across it today and felt compelled to post it here. Before posting the clip, I asked my friend Alicia (aka Yaya of Yayastuff) for advice at presenting this clip in a sensitive manner. (I'll leave the insensitive part to the video clip itself). For those unfamiliar with Alicia's background, here is her "about me" summary from her blog:

Alicia aka "Yaya" says --- "Read along in my quest to become a Mommy, one way or another. It's been 6 years and several miscarriages, but I'm not giving up!"



Below this clip are the captions Alicia came up with for it. (I asked her for ideas because she's much funnier than I am and because I didn't want to offend any readers with this clip. It is either offensive, funny, or both... depending on who is watching it and their mood/life situation...

So here is Alicia's "movie review":

"Dang those hormones!"
"Just Blame The Pituitary"
"Mother Nature Hates Me"


Despite Alicia's intense suffering on her path to motherhood, she continues to retain her keen sense of humor and I thought including her "video captions" with this video would be a perfect fit. I wanted to be sensitive to readers that might take offense to Disney and Kotex's mini-film (about 10 minutes long). It is NOT included here to offend (!!) but rather to assist women my age at comprehending at what the generation before us was taught! Perhaps between the utter nonsense and sexism in it, you may find some twisted humor in watching this video and picturing it being shown in sex education classes in schools. It's no wonder mothers the age of mine are generally not comfortable talking about periods and period pain!!

This article was posted by Jeanne via "Jeanne's Endo Blog" at www.endendoat.blogspot.com.

10 comments:

Yaya said...

Yes, it did give me something to chuckle at. I mean, seriously, this is what girls learned back then:

Huh, so the sole purpose of any girl's life is to have babies, huh?

And...it's hormones that tell girls to play with dolls??

Glad I know that I'm supposed to shower during my period now, but not with freezing cold water, Lol!

And why don't I look like that happy girl riding a bike during my period?

So just ignore the pain?? And act happy even though you're not!?

Oh, and if I have good posture I won't have cramps! That's what I've been doing wrong!

....Seriously, feel so bad for women who grew up in this environment. Endo is hard enough, let alone the entire world not understanding an ounce of it! I mean, dr's today don't even know all they should about it, but at least it's eons better than half a century ago.

Mckay K said...

Video in sex ed. It never would have happened in the bible belt.

Sex ed. was mandatory for six weeks out of the school year for 40minutes-instead of gym. The girls were separated from the boys.

My mother sent off for the pamphlet. She brought me a package. I think it was the first mail I received.

I read them. We never discussed menstruation after that.

She was understanding about the difficult periods. When I told her I was too sick to to to school, I was never question. She never came into my room.

Those were the good old days.

It was something that she was not comfortable talking about. So, I never did.

Jeanne said...

Alicia,

I'm glad you at least got some chuckling between the nausea bouts from watching this!

Seriously, this appears to be exactly what they learned/were taught.

This "caveman mentality" is a big part of why so many women STILL suffer so terribly from endo in 2008!! How many women have we met who have had docs blow them off, tell them it's "in their heads", etc? ALL endo patients I have ever met!!!

Ya gotta love that part depicting girls playing with dolls. I laughed out loud at parts of this video even though other parts were very sad!

Yup! We should be showering like the video teaches us! Ha ha. It's funny because I had blocked this inane comment out of my head but I DO remember reading something ignorant about the showering stuff when I was younger. (It may have even been in the special/sample box of Kotex products my mom bought for me the one and only time we sat down and talked about periods - until I reached my 20s, got diagnosed w/endo, and started making her talk about it). Ha ha.

That ice water part was pretty funny. :)

The girl on the bike... Oh where to start!?. Well how about that many endo patients can't ride bikes due to their co-existing vulvodynia for starters?! Oh my God. I died at the bicycle part. How I would love to be able to ride a bike ever again. I haven't been able to do so in YEARS.

You said it: "ignore the pain". "Stop feeling sorry for yourself because other people have to live w/you and you have to live w/yourself". Were they kidding???? Even back then this seems so "caveman" to me!!

Yes, women & girls were systematically CONDITIONED to ignore the pain. Oh sure... they stuck a brief comment in there about having a talk w/your doctor for persistent pain (paraphrase) but since docs NOW can barely diagnose handle endo half the time, I wonder how effective that would have been!?

As far as the "act happy when you are not", this is CLASSIC "burying your feelings" or "stuffing your feelings". Any therapist would say it's unhealthy to stuff negative feelings this way. Yet, that is what women were trained to do! Talk about repressed!!!

Gotta love the posture advice. Ha ha. That must be why I developed endo at age 13 with my 1st period... my posture wasn't up to snuff! Dear God! Nothing to do with genetics. Nothing to do with my mom having endo before me. Right? Dear God!!

I agree wholeheartedly that it is truly sad that women and girls grew up indoctrinated with this load of crap. Yes, endo is hard enough w/out patients being judged and w/out any effort by most people to learn much/anything about endo unless they have it!

Very true that docs today too often have insufficient knowledge to appropriately help endo patients. As you pointed out, though, things are getting better. Not fast enough for me! But things are getting better.

At least people are actually TALKING ABOUT THESE ISSUES OPENLY vs. the "SUFFER IN SILENCE" method from years ago!

Incredible!!!

Jeanne

Jeanne said...

Mckay k,

So sorry that the schools you attended didn't care to dive into such "controversial territory" as sex ed that actually could help kids get educated about something that so many parents avoid talking about like the plague.

I absolutely think parents are responsible to explain these issues to their kids... but let's face it that many parents DON'T and then kids tell each other "God knows what" on the playground.

I’m not a fan of the “playground method" for disseminating info/myths/values other families hold that may not necessarily be shared by all families).

Better for kids to get solid information than learn myths from the kid down the block! Sheesh!

In my school, the boys and girls were separated in 4th grade for “the talk”.

My teacher (one in particular who appeared very nervous/uncomfortable) told us about spotting and periods and menstruation while the other 4th grade teachers stared on in stony silence (clearly glad it wasn't them up there telling us).

That, from what I recall, was one session for about 15 minutes or so. You talk about a tense room!

Then in high school, we talked about things a bit more. Needless to say, the word "endometriosis" never got mentioned in health class once! We spent lots of time on STDs but hardly ANY time (if any) talking about periods. (There were male & female students in high school health class and you may imagine the teacher felt awkward and the teen boys mocked & joked about things and were insensitive and insulting.

Perhaps this would have been an opportunity to have a "teachable moment" to educate the guys that this is NOT a laughing matter, that endo is a serious illnrss, that their moms/sisters/girlfriends/wives someday could have it. Guys could have learned the endo basics right then and there!

Alas, it didn't work that way at my school!

So mom sent off for the Kotex box with the colorful picture (cartoon drawing) of a woman's serene, happy face on the box top. (Looking pretty darn peaceful & happy).

Inside the box were little booklets about menstruation and samples of various feminine hygiene products.

I remember she had it stowed away way up on a high shelf of a closet. It was like she had "hidden" it because the topic was "taboo" or something.

She pulled the box down, gave a brief explanation of what the purpose of the box was, and gave it to me to read. That was about it.

This was before I got my first period. I remember reading the school library book, "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?" by Judy Blume (like so many girls my age did).

That book helped me wrap my brain around things better just looking at than the Kotex box pushing their products as the "greatest".

God love my mom! She actually talked with me about this stuff when I was younger.

Many moms just skip that talk altogether!

Can you imagine how scary it would be to get a first period and have no clue why/what it was??

I read the materials too. It made it all sound so natural and simple. The flowery wording and literally flower illustrations on the booklets glossed over any potential reasons for concern and launched straight into how lucky a girl is to "become a woman" and how natural the process is, etc.

As a trained therapist specializing in OB/GYN issues later pointed out to me, this experience should, ideally, be treated as a positive "milestone" and part of becoming older/more nature... and "celebrated" as a sort of "rite of passage".

However, she also totally gets the fact that it's hard to celebrate going from a relatively carefree childhood to constant pain, judgments of others, accusations of hypochondria, etc.

How can you celebrate your entrance to hell, right?? I believe there are scars that never really heal from the trauma experienced by most girls who experience symptoms of such a serious illness at such a young age.

It's is hard enough for adults to understand the basics of endo. For an as-yet-undiagnosed girl with it, every day can be totally overwhelming!

I think the "one-time discussion”/"whew! it's over with" phenomenon was very common back then. Little by little, it's getting better as a whole. Some girls still are not properly educated at home.

While some parents educate their children about these issues, too many are embarrassed, awkward, and unsure of how to go about it. Often, they had no role model on how to do so.

I believe the schools should provide at least some BASIC understanding about issues like endo, infertility, and miscarriages.

So many students will go through these experiences. They should not enter into such harrowing experiences without some sort of "heads up" or framework!

I'm glad she was understanding about the difficult periods. When you told her you were too sick to to to school, you were never questioned and that is HUGE!

I know we've talked about this before but is sure does sound like you may well have been experiencing endo symptoms back then without having a name for it.

I think ‘more parents than not’ have had trouble over the years communicating with their children about the changes in their bodies and how to get through that challenging time.

My fervent hope is that today's parents will continue to take a more active role in shaping their daughters' understanding of their bodies and (without alarming them) educate them on some signs of trouble to look for.

Your situation sounds "textbook". Thank you, as always, for your insights! :)

Jeanne

Yaya said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jeanne said...

Alicia,

Thank you! :)

Jeanne

Jannie said...

This made me laugh so much.

Music right out of Snow White.

I wonder if it was considered "racy" for the day??

Jeanne said...

As Alicia alluded to with her "Mother Nature Hates Me" comment, there is an implication in this video is that if you’re a “normal” woman then you will be fine if you follow the film’s advice. (It’s almost like they are saying, “so pay attention ladies! Just follow our guidelines for a happy period, folks!)

Mckay k, so many women are not comfortable talking about this subject.

Jannie, in between the video’s devastating sexism, dismissive comments, condescending attitude towards anyone who might {{gasp!}} cry during her period, and subtext that one should just “suck it up” during periods there were parts that made me laugh too. Also, Jannie, I’ll bet it was considered racy for the day.

The music reminded me of ‘Disney Princess’ music too. Of course, this makes sense in light of the fact that Disney Princess movies (such as Snow White) have sexist themes such as “the man must come and save the day”!

By the way, for those with young girls in their lives who want a non-traditional princess story where the female/princess character does not need to rely on the handsome prince to “save” her, I recommend the picture book “Princess Smartypants" by Babette Cole. Unlike Disney Princess books, this tale does not “brainwash” young girls that a man must “rescue them”.

Don’t get me wrong. Disney has its good moments. I just think it’s important for girls to understand that in real life it is not necessary to “play the princess role” of waiting for the “prince” to save her. So I just wanted to clarify that I’m not “anti-Disney Princess” so long as girls are taught that they do not need to wait for a man to “rescue them” and they do not need to buy into the Princess notion that women must be submissive to men. I think Disney Princess books have their place but I think the Princess Smartypants book is a nice compliment to add to a young girl’s library right next to the Princess stuff. :)

Anyway, back to the video. I remember reading as a teen about that “taboo against bathing during a period” and I remember thinking how weird it was that anyone would think NOT to bathe/shower during a period. It’s amazing to me that such a notion could ever take hold to the point that such a video would even need to spend time dispelling such a myth. Who knows? Maybe those Kimberly Clark brochures (in the box my mother got me - similar to what Mckay k’s mother apparently gave her), still talked about this bathing myth as recently as about 25 years ago? It just strikes me as bizarre that such a reference was still being made when I was a teen. (I just turned 40).

The ice cubes coming out of the showerhead just killed me! That part really had me laughing!!

You have to get a chuckle about the girl happily riding a bike down a steep hill with no hands as they simultaneously suggested, “just use common sense”. Wouldn’t common sense be to keep your hands on the handlebars while zooming down a steep hill? You can almost hear the girl saying “wheeeeee!” with joy as she careens down the hill. Too much. That was hilarious. Of course, the many endo patients with vulvodynia who can’t ride a bike EVER (like me) really appreciated that scene immensely. [Insert sarcasm here]…

The whole video smacks of blatant sexism & minimizing things a woman might experience during her period.

Some readers of this blog (though certainly not all) are in their late 20s or their 30s. Were videos like this shown in sex education in school to our mothers?? If not, who exactly were these films made for? It’s no wonder that the mothers of such readers typically do not feel comfortable discussing periods to this day. After all, they were TRAINED by videos like this to basically “keep quiet about any inconveniences they might face due to their periods” and “suck it up”, appear happy, stand up straight, “keep smiling and even-tempered” and to hide their feelings!! What a healthy message! “Stuff your feelings down and smile”…

To me the subliminal message (not too heavily disguised) – was “act like you feel fine… stop crying, whining, and complaining”. I believe many women have internalized such messages to this day.

When I was in my 20s, I actually had a “friend” tell me I needed to “grin and bear it” (when I was having post-surgical complications/severe cramps that made it hard to work... following a laparoscopy for endo). I wonder who taught her the “grin & bear it” philosophy? Her mom was born in the 1940s. Gee, maybe she had seen this enlightening video and passed its philosophy down to her daughter. (After 10 years undiagnosed and having complications following this first laparoscopy at age 23, I decided I no longer wanted to be “friends” with someone who was so insensitive as to tell me to “grin and bear it” when I was not complaining at all and was just eating on my lunch break with tears in my eyes from the pain). After holding my tears in front of customers all morning – when I should have been home in bed recovering from surgery… but wasn’t because my doc had sent me back to work – my lunch break caused me to tear up a bit. I wasn’t complaining. I was simply sitting in the lunch room with tears in my eyes from the pain that I had been suppressing all morning in from of the customers).

There is especially bold sexism – (i.e. “when you come to think it of, most of your routine is on the mild side” ) {{gag)}}... Are they kidding?? I know this was made in 1946 but sheesh! It’s like they are saying “hey whiner, if you feel badly during your period, you need to lay off the one-handed furniture-lifting and rest throughout the month like we told you”. This just killed me... To depict a woman (oh, I’m sorry, they keep calling her a “girl”) lifting furniture one-handed while dusting its underside with the other hand just struck me as beyond bizarre. Doing that furniture-lift would be quite a feat. I don’t of anyone who lifts heavy-looking chairs one-handed!

According to Disney and Kimberly-Clark (makers of Kotex), “going to extremes” is what’s “wrong & to be avoided”. Hmm. That must be it. Any women who have trouble during their periods must have just overdone it by lifting furniture one-handed and dusting it with the other.

The video did give women “permission” to consult their doctors if periods were resulting in having severe pain. How noble of them. Gee, thanks.

Of course, I wonder if doctors in 1946 typically knew HOW to help endo patients’ pain. (Of course, many still don’t in 2008)! So I’m just guessing here that not too many doctors were helpful treating endo back then.

One of the parts that really killed me was this... “don’t let it (period) get you down... “you have to live with people” and “you have to live with yourself too”... {Insert scream here}

The message I hear at this point is to “quit your whining” and “act normal”. For goodness sakes, go ride a bike or dance. That’ll help!

This message invalidates what so many women experienced then and experience now. (Yes, women DID have endo back then too. I know of a couple of them myself).

For years, women with endo were dismissed as “neurotic”. (Some, sadly, still are in 2008). The comment “an occasional twinge or touch of nerves” can occur is apparently tied to that idea that women who report severe pain associated with periods are simply “neurotic” and that the pain is “in their heads”. Sadly, doctors to this day tell many women that symptoms are “in their heads”. I have participated in endo support groups since 1992 and I have yet to meet ONE woman who did not hear this phrase from a doctor’s mouth at one time or another!!

The video says one may have “less pep” and/or a “feeling of pressure in the lower part of the body”. Hmm. Could the extreme fatigue that endo patients experience during their periods (bad enough to make getting out of bed a huge challenge) be just lacking a little “pep”? Could that “pressure” they mentioned be associated with feeling like one’s uterus is getting ripped out (as happens to some endo patients)? Or maybe that “pressure” was happening to women whose ovaries were attached to their intestines? Perhaps the “pressure” was related to scar tissue and adhesions formed by the internal bleeding from endo? Yeah, that might cause some pressure.

The clip went on to give a condescending “once you stop feeling sorry for yourself…” comment. This kind of talk just blows my mind on so many levels! I could not believe my ears at this point. The notion that a woman who has significant pain is most likely just “feeling sorry for herself” just boggles my brain.

You have to love the section about posture: “do something about that slouch!” Hmm. It’s almost like they said, “hey you… your posture looks bad... you are not doing your job as a woman with that horrible slouching. Stand up straight & pretty! That will help you feel better during your period”.

Especially interesting to me was the notion that focusing on one’s appearance was key to feeling good during periods!!! “Keep looking smart. That well-groomed feeling will give you new poise & lift your morale”. Oh that must be the problem… endo patients are not grooming themselves well enough to keep the cramps and abdominal pain away. We’d better get our powder puffs out to feel much better”!! Silly me... I should have known that on my own.

Then of course there is the wrap-up of this enlightening video: “all life is built on cycles… the menstrual cycle is normal”. (Here they cue the doll-playing girl who represents “normal”). I wonder if her hormones programmed her to play with the doll? It then re-emphasizes that periods are a “natural part of nature’s eternal plan”. Okay. No one’s arguing that periods are unnatural but debilitating pain with periods is NOT normal!

Now cue the bride shown while the narrator talks about “passing on the gift of life”. (Of course, it is assumed that infertility couldn’t possibly be an issue)! After all, this video seems to suggest that it is part of “nature’s eternal plan” for women to provide their husbands (like the one the video’s bride just got hitched to) with offspring. After all, she wasn’t wearing that bride for playing dress up. She was about to start working on conceiving that female baby pictured in the bassinet. Cue the shot of mom looking over baby who was smiling and yawning. Apparently the woman in the video didn’t have any fertility problems.

Kimberly-Clark and Disney really went all out to educate people with this informative video clip on menstruation. I wonder if any of our moms (of those who saw a movie in school about this topic) saw this particular film in school during sex education classes??

In endometriosis support groups from 1992 through 2008, I have heard many women say that they could not discuss periods (or any endo symptoms) with their mothers and/or did not feel comfortable doing so because their mothers simply weren’t OK with such discussions.

No wonder that many women of their generation didn’t feel comfortable discussing periods!! They were TRAINED not to “complain”… and to just suck it up, smile, and put on their makeup. So shouldn’t we do the same?? What are we making such a big deal about??

This video both horrified me and made me laugh at how ludicrous it was. Let’s just hope our generation can send a much more appropriate message to girls (and all of society for that matter) that it is NOT normal to have menstrual cramps that keep them from school or work. It is NOT normal to hemorrhage. It is NOT normal to pass out from period pain (this has happened to me). It is NOT normal to feel too nauseous to eat during periods. These things are NOT normal.

Diagnosis needs to happen earlier. The last stat I heard was that the average endo patient is diagnosed 9.9 YEARS after the onset of symptoms. My symptoms began at age 13 and I was diagnosed at 23. So my timeline was a textbook case. Most endo patients I have met had a similar lag in getting a proper diagnosis.

The good news is that I have met some girls in their teens who already have a diagnosis. This means that there are girls out there right now who are getting diagnosed earlier, managing their symptoms better/earlier, and possibly even getting fertility-protecting treatment for their futures.

It is CRUCIAL for us to educate the public, gynecologists, and PEDIATRICIANS about the symptoms of endo! Too much unnecessary suffering for too many women could have been avoided or minimized with proper diagnosis and treatment!

The notion that it’s not “ladylike” to discuss periods is inextricably linked to delayed diagnosis/treatment of endo. We need to get talking!

We must learn from mistakes of years past (i.e. videos like this) and give better understanding, timely diagnosis, proper support, empathy, information, and treatment options to current patients and future generation of girls and women with endo.

It is simply not acceptable for girls and women to have their symptoms marginalized, ignored, dismissed, and under treated.

ENDO PATIENTS DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS!!!

endochick said...

This is explains my grandma and her "just bear with it" mentality.

Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for the laughs.

Jeanne said...

Endochick,

Yes, I think this video illustrates a mindset that we have trouble today even comprehending.

As challenging as things are now, we are blessed with access to information and support! We are fortunate!

Thank goodness we don't have to simply "grin and bear it" or "just bear with it".

I'm glad you got some laughs from the video.

Have a very Merry Chirstmas!!

Jeanne :)

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