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If you have not heard of this film from Walt Disney Pictures, do not
worry about it. It would be classed along the other films by Disney
that are meant for educational purposes like "Family Planning".
It was co-produced with Kotex to teach pre-teen girls about Menstruation, supposably. It only educates at a superficial level, so it does not go into heavy detail for the animated "Ram's Head"/ Reproductive System sequence.
The film does show "The Wonderful World of Disney" elements like the turning of the page and the use of animation to tell the story.
This film is impossible to find, so if you can find the film, best luck to you and enjoy.
When I saw this as a child, it answered all of my questions and dispelled any fears or misconceptions that I had. It is easy to watch because it is animated, which makes it unthreatening. It has no moral bias or "preachy" aspects, so nobody should have any objections to it. It is a pleasant film that simply gives the facts of menstruation in a reassuring, "matter-of-fact" way. I hope to show it to my daughter.
The story of menstruation begins, as the motherly narrator informs us,
with the pituitary gland - a gland at the base of the brain that sends
hormones throughout the bloodstream that order growth. When a girl
reaches an age somewhere between 11 and 17 - the average is 13 (in
1946, at least) - the pituitary gland sends maturing orders to the
ovaries, which in turn order the uterus to create a thickened lining,
filled with watery fluids and blood. If an egg is fertilized it will
remain within that thickened lining for nourishment. But if the egg is
not fertilized, the body has no use for the extra nourishment, and it
passes out of the body - which is the process called menstruation. The
narrator proceeds to disprove taboos against bathing or exercise during
menstruation. She advises that girls should keep a calendar that keeps
track of the number days between periods. And she notes how good
posture, healthy foods and positive attitudes can affect the
Walt Disney Productions always made educational films that far outclassed the dull and laughable product of its rivals, and so it's no surprise that "The Story of Menstruation," sponsored by Kotex, is a tasteful and interesting animated short film - though it is surprising to see Walt Disney's name on a 1940s film that comes perilously close to providing sex education.
Today's reviewers (in blogs and on this user comments page) criticize the film for not dealing directly with the issue of sex, which probably would have been impossible in 1946 - certainly for Walt Disney. The film was progressive as it was: according to IMDb's trivia page, this was probably the first Hollywood production in which we hear the word "vagina." They also criticize the film for advising girls not to feel sorry for themselves when their emotions become strained during a period. Supposedly the advice is condescending, but "Don't feel sorry for yourself" sounds to me like good advice for anyone on any occasion.
Some reviewers even ridicule the film's refutation of the taboo against bathing, which is supposedly too patently obvious to mention. It couldn't have been patently obvious at the time, or the movie would not have mentioned it. If the taboo has completely died out, it's thanks to those who took the trouble to expose it for the nonsense it is.
As far as I can tell, little if any of the information in this film has become outdated. The worst you can say about it, now that the taboo against sex education has been damaged (if not destroyed), is that it's incomplete.
The entire 10:15 minute presentation is done in a very non-threatening
and non-medical way that even preteen children can easily understand.
It dispels many of the myths surrounding menstruation that were going
around in those days (1946) While sex is not explicitly mentioned, the
part about fertilization is. This is also, purportedly, the first
Hollywood production to ever use the word "vagina" in the dialogue.
It is cute how the animated character is shown topless in the shower in a purely animated character way with no defining features as was the way of the day. Many of the Betty Boop cartoons showed her undress without revealing any defining features either. Max Fleischer was a bit of a card and did this with many of the Betty Boop cartoons which required frame-by-frame viewing to find them.
There is no mention at the beginning or end of the film as to who the female narrator is. In fact, there are no credits whatsoever other than those mentioning Kotex and Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
This title is nearly impossible to attain; but for those who are Bittorrent downloaders, it can be found out there in the ether. This is one of those "keepers" that will become increasingly hard to find as older short subject features fade into obscurity.
Here is one of those educational short films made to learn the unknown
people out there about facts of life. This time the target audience is
preteen girls, the fact of life is menstruation. This animated film,
created by Walt Disney Pictures, apparently with some sponsoring from
It starts with explaining how hormones make you grow and develop. With the help of animation and a female narrator it shows us how the body, especially the ovaries, uterus and vagina, work and why this all leads to menstruation. It is almost amazing, becoming the comic note here, how the subject of sex is avoided. Even the word is never mentioned although "furtilized" will pass once. I don't really know why I saw this, but since it is one of those rare short films that could give an impression of an innocent time, you might want to give it a try.
I stumbled upon this short whilst watching a video on YouTube about the
history of Disney from 1922 to 1999 and a short clip of this was
included in the montage. I was intrigued to see the whole thing, which
is also on YouTube. Whilst watching this, I was already familiar with
the majority of information used but I found this short an interesting
way to discuss the processes of puberty and menstruation and it made me
realise that Kotex feminine care products are older than I thought.
The animation was done in a combination of colour (the segments of menstruating females getting on with their normal lives) and black and white (the diagram of menstruation) and it was mostly simple yet smooth with old-fashioned yet beautiful character designs. The narration is informative and while this is the only known Disney work to fully discuss female anatomy, it does so in an educational context. Although the music is also old-fashioned, it is emotive nonetheless. One minor gripe with regard to the sound quality is that it is somewhat crackly but I guess this was natural for the time this short was made. I know there have been complaints about the exclusion of sexual intercourse but personally the producers did the right thing omitting it because it would have detracted from the short's main topic. Even though I am nearly 27 as I write this, I could relate to the narration regarding the lengths of menstrual cycles varying from person to person because I have PCOS, which makes my cycle irregular.
Overall this is an unlikely yet intriguing and informative animated short from Disney. 8/10.
If you scour the internet long enough, you may be able to find some
little soundbites, pieces of information, or little projects you may
not have known existed. With the ubiquity of Disney and its countless
number of products, animated shorts, and films, it's only expected that
some of their works get lost in the shuffle only to potentially
resurface in the future. Consider the controversial - and still
unreleased - film Song of the South, which has been withheld from a
release on home video due to its depiction of old-fashioned race
relations and politically incorrect mannerisms the United States once
possessed. Consider the underground, home-brew short Mickey Mouse in
Vietnam, a very brief animated film with anti-war themes of an
optimistic, nationalistic Mickey Mouse going off to fight The Vietnam
War with true pride only to return in complete agony and despair.
Now take a look at The Story of Menstruation, a ten-minute long educational short film from Disney that defines the menstrual cycle for young girls beginning or currently experiencing puberty. The film chronicles it all, from what the cycle is, why it occurs, how it occurs, how to cope with it, the issues that may arise, how a girl goes through her routine when it's her time of the month, and so forth. The film only goes so far, with the sexual intercourse aspect being untouched, unsurprisingly.
The film is more fun to talk about than it is to actually endure. Speaking as a male who is pretty well-informed on females and their menstrual cycle thanks to actual female friends and the benefits of a high school health class, this is pretty much old news from my perspective. However, that's not to say the short's age, brevity, and obviousness won't teach young girls even in today's world how their body operates. It does a nice, squeaky-clean job at detailing the process and what is exactly occurring in a female's body, which, as we all know, can cause extremely hormonal tendencies, self-consciousness, and confusion in even the most hard-hearted female.
The Story of Menstruation is also the first film on record to use the term "vagina" because of America's long-standing queasiness and apprehension to sexual topics, especially during the time of the 1940's. As novelty viewing and a curious piece of history, The Story of Menstruation holds little conversational value outside of the aforementioned fact and the surefire giggle that will ensue when people are informed that Disney made a film about the menstrual cycle. But as an educational short, which is how the project should be viewed and critiqued in its respect, it's competent and easily-accessible.
Narrated by: Gloria Blondell.
Although this film is somewhat sanitized (because it was made at a time
when people just didn't talk about sex), it is an extremely helpful
short film to show prepubescent girls so they know what to expect
during menstruation. Not surprisingly, it was paid for by the Kotex
company, though what may surprise many is that Disney made this
film--as they made a lot of educational films during the 1940s-60s.
However well made the film is, though, I think the film maker's missed
a real opportunity. Instead of the nice female narrator's voice and the
relatively bland visuals it would have been GREAT if they'd used Minnie
Mouse and the rest of the Disney gang!! I know this would have given
old Walt a heart attack, but wow that would have been a great film! By
the way, although the notion of sex is barely hinted at in the film, it
DOES adequately explain menstruation in general. However, it does lack
some details (especially about intercourse) that I assume were included
in the accompanying booklet.
Now if only I can figure out why I watched a cartoon about menstruation.
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