“Tampon Run” Puts an End to Period Shaming by Gaming
“Two sixth grade girls saw the game (Tampon Run) for the first time and reacted with ‘Ew,’ and ‘Gross, why are you guys talking about that stuff?’ I was about to step in and explain when four eighth graders, two boys and two girls, looked up from their computers to calmly and convincingly explain that there was nothing wrong with menstruation, and that, in fact, it was really weird that we talk about guns and violence all the time, but periods are considered gross.” -Teacher on how Tampon Run has positively affected menstruation conversation.
Approaching the subject of your daughter’s first period can be stressful for a parent who struggles to find just the right way to explain vaginal bleeding, period cramps, and why women will suffer the rest of their lives, while men get a free pass with this stuff. Choosing a simple, reassuring, and exhaustive method for satisfying your daughter’s curiosity without scarring her for life can be tricky. Add the precarious psychological and emotional balance known as adolescence to the equation, and parents need more than a pat on the back and a go team to dive into “the talk.”
5 Tips to Approaching the Menstruation Conversation
- Treat her like a Young Adult: Every little girl at this stage of her life swings between clinging to her role as baby girl, while wanting to be considered as an emerging young adult. When you decide to talk about this transformation into womanhood, and in particular about menstruation and sexuality, treat her as a mature individual.
- Plan ahead, by a Couple of Years: As you ultimately decide the when and what regarding the aspects of menstruation you feel comfortable addressing with your daughter, and one never quite knows when the first period may occur, despite physical signs, prepare ahead, research, and buy books. The indicated age is 8-9 years old, in the pre-adolescence phase of curiosity and discovery. Make sure you have already addressed the subject of sexuality in some way, even only by discussing the physiology of the female and male body and the way children are conceived and born.
- Apply the Art of Synthesis: The subject should not be addressed with long, winded speeches or recommendations, but in small steps, with simplicity and clarity. Discuss important aspects of development, and do so regularly so that there are no taboo subjects.
- Girl Talk: Perhaps the best individual to have this talk with the budding woman is her Mom or female guardian, as women have the feminine sensitivity and experience necessary to deal with such an intimate subject. The talk can pave the way for a stronger relationship that will enable parents to broach other topics of concern in the future.
- Talk to her Using her Language: This is where the videogame Tampon Run could be extremely effective. In many cultures around the world period shaming occurs, leaving girls-to-young women vulnerable to bodily transformations that should be cause for celebration and not shame. The game was created by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser, two high school students from New York City, who started developing the game during a Girls Who Code camp. The pair designed the concept as a response to feeling like they couldn’t openly discuss menstruation and wanted to create a game which could have a social impact.
Speak openly with your daughter and incorporate this video game created by young girls for young girls with an important message: “Although the concept of the game might be strange, it’s stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable.”
Keep it normal and fearless.
Watch Sophie Houser and Andy Gonzalez’ TedxYouth@Hewitt talk here:
Although girls talk about these physiological changes with their girlfriends, it is important for us to be hands on with explanations especially involving how to respect and protect sensitive skin during that time of the month. This all natural event in a young girl’s life is an occasion to create a pattern of heart to hearts about intimate subjects that will undoubtedly touch your daughter throughout her life.
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