Remember that line in 30 Rock when Liz says “that little girl taught me how to use tampons?’ That’s how I felt about this book. It’s written towards a YA audience—for good reason—but has value way beyond that. Period Power showcases the author’s experience with period products and her own menarche, but it also digs deep into why period product accessibility is a large issue. Plus, as large as the issue is, it should be an even larger one. Okamoto goes into the history of menstruation and the cultural effects of period product accessibility and advancements in product technology. She covers everything from the stigma of menstruating in general to the sustainability of period products. She also gives tips for young menstruators who may be new to the experience, or awaiting menarche with trepidation. As a 41-year-old, I actually found this portion of the book very comforting and wished I had such a guide when I was that age.
She also addresses how the language around period products is changing—such as using the term period products instead of feminine hygiene or sanitary products—and why it is necessary to do so. There are a great many reasons, and I have adopted this term into my lexicon; I find it even easier to say than the old, outdated terms actually. The stigma surrounding periods, the idea that a person is unclean while having their period and they need extra hygiene and something extra sanitary, is so damaging. A person having a period needs a period product.
Another important part of the book is the explanation of how different periods are for different people. This is another gem younger me longed for—that explanation and understanding. It’s also something I think everyone should be aware of; normal is what’s normal for you, and you are not an average, you’re a person with agency and if your period is causing problems, then see a doctor but also, as with everything, comparing your period with others isn’t the way to suss out what normal menstruation is.
Period Power is a powerful book, full of great information and resources. Come for the personal stories and revelations and stay for the myriad resources of how we can create better period product accessibility and achieve (or get closer to) equity.