1946 Disney Instructional Video on Menstruation Resurfaces: Why It's Impressively Accurate and Slightly Insulting
Disney's instructional menstruation video is resurfacing on the internet and it's both accurate and condescending
It’s a talk everyone dreaded as a child and what many women continue to dread today.
In 1946, Disney released an educational video about a woman’s menstrual cycle used for middle school health education classes. The cartoon, complete with helpful diagrams, was used at the time to help girls to understand the ins and outs of periods.
Co-presented with Kotex, the 10-minute video was distributed at schools with a pamphlet called “Very Personally Yours,” which explained specifics on proper sanitation. In it, young women were discouraged from using tampons — a common belief at the time — because it was thought that they only worked for women who were no longer virgins.
It’s now 2017 — 71 years later — and the film, which has recently resurfaced on the internet, continues to be impressively accurate for its time.
On one hand, the female narrator gives an excellent explanation on how the reproductive system works, advising girls on what to expect and how to manage the pain. It also helped to debunk theories that women cannot exercise or take baths while menstruating. (And well, the cartoons were much less awkward than suffering through The Miracle Of Life as a pre-teen.)
But like many things from the past, parts of the video are outdated — and to some women, can be considered slightly insulting. Let’s begin with the most basic observation: the “blood” shed is white. Why? Nobody knows.
The condescending tone seems to take a turn for the worse towards the second half of the video when it suggests women wear makeup while on their period to “lift your morale,” simply because “it’s smart to keep looking smart.” Of course, this also includes having great posture and “doing something about that slouch.”
At another point, the narrator suggests women put aside the intense pain they may feel and be nice because “no matter how you feel, you have to live with people. You have to live with yourself, too.” She continues, “Once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those days in your stride, you’ll find it easy to keep smiling and even tempered.”
Easier said than done.
Regardless of how it was interpreted, the film is still a big talk on the internet, with Twitter users finding opportunities to crack jokes over its connection with Disney.
“Still waiting for Disneyland’s The Story of Menstruation The Ride,” one Twitter user joked, after a previous tweet suggested that every theme park ran by a movie studio should have attractions built for every film they release.
Another tweet made reference to Disney’s recent releases of live action films, such as Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. “What about a live action remake of ‘the story of menstruation'” the user wrote.
All jokes aside, let’s hope Disney execs pass on those suggestions and keep this one solely as an educational tool for that time of the month.