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The Bizarre Disney Animated Short That Teaches Girls About Menstruation

Disney is known to lock animated films away in its vaults for safekeeping, to be re-released at a later time, but we went digging around and discovered this hidden treasure that’s been locked up for far too long: a 1946 Disney animated short film called “The Story of Menstruation,” which deserves to be honored along with the rest of the studio’s classics. Too bad you won’t see this playing in front of the next Disney princess film. 

“The Story of Menstruation” is an informative, hilarious, and appropriately horrifying educational animated short about the change every young woman must go through between the ages of 11 and 17 (but 13, on average), or as the stuffy narrator repeatedly calls it, “maturing.” And she says it like she’s headed to ‘Downton Abbey.’ If you took a shot every time she says “maturing,” you’d be drunk before she explains ovulation.

As the short was released in 1946 in conjunction with the makers of Kotex (then, International Cello-Cotton Company), it’s predictably antiquated and a bit proper, as it refuses to explain why an egg might get fertilized or how a young lady might become pregnant — Tinkerbell’s fairy dust? Wishing upon a star? Don’t worry about it. Here’s what you do need to worry about: the build-up of lining that will collect and pour out of you each month because that egg isn’t going to hang around, and the animated sequence illustrating this, although in simplistic black and white, is surprisingly horrific … and they repeat the sequence several times.

Apparently times have changed a lot since this film was released, because I don’t recall ever getting a “Very Personally Yours” special calendar to mark my “performance” history — wait, are we supposed to be appraising the quality of our monthly cycles? Is it a contest? Will we be fired from being a woman for poor performance?!

What hasn’t changed is that being a woman is really ridiculous, filled with all these demands and limitations and stereotypes: exercise, but not too much (don’t ride a horse while on your period!); stay clean and bathe often, but don’t take showers that are too hot or too cold; make sure to keep your house clean, but don’t lift anything heavy; don’t get sick; have better posture so you’re never constipated; use common sense, you dummy!

But, the best part of the video comes at the 7:30 mark, when a young lady brushes her hair while she cries in the mirror and the narrator prattles on about how the sooner we learn to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, the better we’ll be able to deal with our menstrual cycles. Shut up, narrator, and the let the girl cry in her mirror. We’ve all been there.

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