Periods. Each month we reluctantly prepare ourselves for a week full of pain, mood swings and binge eating, what’s not to love? On average, Mother Nature comes knocking around 500 times in a person’s life, so it can be difficult to remember back to a time before them.
Starting your period can be such a terrifying time: the changes, hormones and oh my god – the spots! All these side effects can be incredibly overwhelming and make you feel like you’re the only person that’s ever felt like this. Not to mention telling your parents, which can feel like the most embarrassing thing in the world.
It’s no secret that there’s a lack of education around periods, sex and puberty. For most of us, memories of sex-ed classes consist of a teacher putting an ill-fitting condom onto an un-ripened banana, teasing them with questions like ‘Miss, what does fanny mean?’ – not exactly the most informative experience.
This lack of education in schools may be why in the past couple of years, parents have decided to take matters into their own hands, and have tried softening the hormonal blow by celebrating their child’s entrance into the world as an official adult by throwing a ‘Period Party’.
What is a period party?
Yep, you heard it. Period Parties – which also go by the name of ‘full moon parties’ and ‘red tent parties.’
This new craze burst into the media spotlight a few years ago and gained attention after a tweet went viral. The tweet showed a family throwing their daughter a ‘period party’ after she had aired her fears around starting her period. The tweet gained 14.5K likes as well as receiving lots and lots of comments, and I won’t lie to you; it was definitely a mixed bag of opinions.
However, amongst them were some super positive messages, which included people stating how they had been inspired by the family to recreate their own and how they think it’s amazing that a conscious effort is being made to remove the negative stigma around periods, but like anything, there’s always going to be some differing opinions on the matter.
Of course, it wasn’t long before celebrities wanted in on the action. Comedian Bert Kreischer spoke openly on American talk show, Conan, of how his daughter came to him insisting that “all the girls are throwing them”. So, like any supportive father, he took it upon himself to organise a party equipped with red food, red drinks and a period themed cake, “it was awesome”, he said.
Supermodel Tyra Banks also spoke about the recent trend in her book written with her mum, Carolyn London, ‘Perfect is Boring’. Carolyn mentions how she was inspired by a National Geographic programme, in which some cultures held a rite of passage ceremony where the women came together to honour and celebrate the child who had just started her period. “It was a celebration of womanhood, and an acknowledgement of passing into another realm,” she writes.
Carolyn decided to host a party for Tyra, inviting her friends, getting a cake, decorating the house and putting together a gift basket. She also gave out gift baskets with various menstrual products, explaining hygiene and going into anatomy. Tyra seemed on-board with the idea as she wrote, “I appreciate that my mother never wanted me to be ashamed of anything, or to think that there was something bad or dirty about my body.”
Although this trend is somewhat new in Western societies, coming-of-age ceremonies are common in cultures across the globe throughout history. For example, in Apache culture young girls traditionally take part in a 4-day Sunrise Ceremony, also known as Na’ii’ees, the summer following their first menstruation to mark their transition into womanhood.
Period party ideas
Here’s a very important, very scientific checklist to follow if you’re looking to throw your own first moon party:
Food and drink
- Cranberry juice or red punch (with red wine for the adults?)
- Strawberries, raspberries and watermelon for fruit kebabs
- Jam sandwiches
- Ruby chocolate fondue
- Vulva cupcakes
- Red candy and sweets
- Finish with a celebratory red velvet cake (bonus points if it’s in the shape of a tampon or other menstrual product!)
Period party decorations
- Red balloons and banners
- Red moon decor
- Uterus shaped piñata
Period party games and entertainment
Set the scene with a cracking playlist full of empowering female artists from Lizzo to Beyonce. Then it’s time to play…
- Pass the period pad
- What’s the time-of-the-month Mr Wolf
- Stuck in the blood
- Pin the ovaries on the uterus (all the classics!)
You could even give out ‘first period kits’ to guests complete with sanitary pads, chocolate and hot water bottles.
What can we learn from period parties?
All jokes aside, these parties are really touching on something quite significant. They’re helping to turn a topic that is often deemed embarrassing or taboo, into something we can (and should) openly talk about. A period party’s main aims are to provide an opportunity to educate children on puberty, periods and sex and allow parents a chance to talk with their kids about the changes their body is going through.
No matter how you chose to celebrate this occasion; whether you go all out and get family, neighbours and friends round for a sing and a dance, or just simply taking 10 minutes to sit down and talk about it, it’s important to remember that having your first period is a positive experience – and definitely not embarrassing.
Don’t be afraid to talk about periods
Talking about your periods can be a great way to compare what is normal and what is not. If your mum and sister have always had horrible, heavy, painful periods then you might think that it’s the same for everyone each month.
However that might not be the case… There are conditions such as thyroid disturbances, bleeding disorders, fibroids and polyps which can give you heavy periods (menorrhagia). As well as other conditions like endometriosis and adenomyosis which cause severe pain (dysmenorrhea). If your period is having an impact on your quality of life and stopping you from going to school, college or work then have a chat with your GP.
Check out our blog about how contraception can help with heavy or painful periods.
Maddie is an English Language and Linguistics graduate who is passionate about writing. She writes fun and informative content on the weird and wonderful sides of contraception!