By Florence Igboayaka & Martin Okonkwo
ISBN: 979-8-60215-669-0 (PB)
Comics are an incredible resource for dispensing information and – more importantly – changing or reinforcing attitudes. Text and illustration working in union have been used for generations to educate: efficiently and clearly demonstrating practical methodology whilst relating the most difficult theoretical material. They also have the added bonus of being kid-friendly by their very nature…
This particular independent paperback (or digital) treatise is a no-nonsense introduction into the implications and ramifications of female puberty, offering in fictive form explanations, advice and practical solutions to demystify and defuse a distressing and all-too-often traumatic time in every woman’s life.
Aimed at girls aged nine and above, the lesson focuses on schoolmates Anabel, Ada and Misha as a weekend sleepover turns into an impromptu social biology class. Introduced through potted biography pages before our tale opens, the trio are happily primed for their revelatory rite of passage following a Friday afternoon Health lecture in Chapter 1: Growing up & My Body.
Encompassing ‘Puberty. What’s that?’, ‘Help! I feel weird’, ‘Do boys change too?’ (to which I can’t help but interject, Yes, but sadly not enough and far too slowly), ‘Fill your plate with colour’ (sensible dietary advice, albeit perhaps owing more to cultural bias than the latest science) and ‘Don’t pop that pimple’, the basic science and biology is covered in easy to assimilate steps. There’s also a wealth of sensible tips on how to cope with the progression of physical changes and why one should adjust clothing requirements accordingly…
More specific information is sensitively delivered in Chapter 2: What Are Periods? beginning with ‘Help! I’m Bleeding’, punctuated with few of the most common methods of countering the cyclical crisis before we graduate to ‘How long will this last?’
Chapter 3: Period Hygiene then asks and answers ‘How can I protect myself?’, revisiting ‘How long will this last?’ before finding time and space to reveal and challenge the iniquities of ‘Period Poverty’…
Chapter 4: What to Expect During Periods advocates ‘Be prepared’, and asks ‘Are cramps and PMS normal?’, leading into an aspirational Q&A session to end proceedings.
Speaking as exactly who this book is not aimed at and least likely to benefit from its efforts, I have to say The Period Comic is far from perfect but it’s a great start in normalising the commonplace function which modern society has somehow made both shockingly taboo and simultaneously unworthy of notice.
How we can attach so many appalling and absurd reactions to something so ubiquitous and inevitable has always astounded me (I know for absolute fact of one husband and father who won’t allow his wife and daughter’s period (let’s all stop calling them “sanitary”) products to be stored in the bathroom – or even mentioned in the house!) and we sadly seem a long, long way from any kind of parity in accepting that all humans are as much muck and mire as we are dreams and aspirations.
If this tract helps its target audience avoid unfair stigma and the unjustifiable twaddle of mythology and outright bigotry that’s grown around the process of menstruation, I’m all in favour.
Perhaps, it’s a touch too self-laudatory in places and there’s a tendency to overstress the hygiene aspect whilst underplaying the still too-prevalent negative social stigma. My female associates and intimates also assure me that there’s lots more this primer could and should cover – such as ecologically sustainable alternate methods of coping with the cycle – but all in all, this is a supremely sensible, minimum fuss treatment of a natural occurrence that really shouldn’t be a sensitive issue in any modern egalitarian society. Why not see for yourself and or check it out with your own youngsters?
2019. No © invoked.