Even though I generally consider my monthly flow a gift from hell, I've always been fascinated with the cultural history of periods. Why is it so often linked with being dirty or contaminated? Why do guys get so skeeved out about it? What's up with those menstrual cups?
Now 18-year-old Rachel Nalebuff has come out My Little Red Book, a collection of First Period stories from women young and old, and from all over the world. Here's an excerpt from her introduction:
The women in my family starting sharing their stories with each other and with me. I learned that my grandmother discovered her first period by noticing a trail of red drops on the stairs. I knew that my aunt Nina had fled Poland to escape being deported to a concentration camp.
But I never knew that she got her first period on that trip, and that it saved her from being strip-searched by Nazis at the German border. The most amazing part of her story was that before she shared it with me, she had never told anyone—not her children, not her friends, no one...
... Too often, menarche marks a somber occasion. In her story Loss and Gain of Responsibility, Zannette Lewis writes that menarche historically marked the age at which a slave could be sold off as a woman. In The Harness, Deo Robbins describes feeling humiliated when she first stepped into her mother’s belted pad. Several stories recount the pain of being slapped upon sharing the news.