I remember the first time I really learned what a “period” was. I was in 5th grade, and a “mean girl” I was “friends” with just randomly blurted out to me in the lunch line one day, “You know you’re gonna start bleeding in your underwear, right?”
Well, um, no, I didn’t really know that. I mean, I guess I had kinda seen my mom’s pads or whatever wrapped up in the tiny bathroom garbage can (eww), but she’d never talked to me about exactly why they were there or the kinds of changes my body was going to go through when I hit “puberty,” another word I’d only heard used a few scant times in awkward situations with teachers or other authority figures. So when I finally got my period, I did end up kind of just bleeding in my underwear, trying to figure out how to handle it on my own without telling my mother. We did not have a close relationship and frankly I didn’t trust her enough to want to tell her something so personal and gross.
She realized about three months in to my “womanhood” (hurl) that her feminine product supply was drying up faster than usual and put two and two together. She finally confronted me to ask me if my period had started, so I told her yes. She immediately told my uncle, who boldly congratulated me the next time he saw me. “Hey kid, I hear you’re a woman now.” I still remember how horrifying that moment was. Me, a woman? I guess, if a 13-year-old who looks like a boy with a bad short perm and braces qualifies as a “woman,” sure.
It seems unlikely that a middle-schooler in 2013 could have the type of experience I just described, because the veil of body secrecy has lifted, and grown women no longer talk about their Aunt Flo visiting from Red Creek. (That’s the actual name of a town near the one I grew up in. Ha.) No, mothers today – if they err with impropriety – it’s on the other side of the spectrum. They are way too into openness about bodily functions, going so far as to host “puberty parties,” also known as period parties, menarche parties (Menarche Madness!) or red tent parties.
And why not celebrate your daughter’s “passage into womanhood” with a giant party that’s as red as her now spotted My Little Pony underwear? That’s not awkward at all. In fact, it could be a ton of fun! Here are some tips for throwing a red hot red tent party. Your daughter will gush with excitement!
First things first: start with an invitation. 1 of 15
Keep it simple. Something your guests can easily absorb. If you're going to fete your daughter with a secret red tent party, you might want to try the following design ...
Shh … It’s a Surprise! 2 of 15
In case you're worried your daughter might be embarrassed if you invite every female she knows to feed her red grapes while she bleeds inside a tent, try a stealth approach to your red tent party ... like going to change your tampon in secret at work.
Encourage guests to dress biblically. 3 of 15
Perhaps like the menstruating woman who was considered "ritually unclean" because she had her period for 12 years. Fun!
Order the tent. 4 of 15
Obviously the tent should be red, but if you can't find one that's solid red, that's okay. The black and white walls on this tent above serve as a reminder of two things: 1) that women of all colors and creeds are unified in the bloody pursuit of goddess-work, and 2) black pants work best while white pants should be avoided during the time your unfertilized eggs are expelling themselves.
Decorate the interior of the tent. 5 of 15
Again, the interior of the tent should be red, with subtle accents for visual interest. Essentially, you should be able to bleed in any corner of this party and walk away with your stains unnoticed.
Light candles. 6 of 15
When women feel irritable, nothing is more soothing to us than creating a potential hazard with an array of lit candles. Try mixing red votives like these with these "bloody finger drip candles," the perfect accessory for your menarche event.
Serve red foods. 7 of 15
Offer your guests themed red foods like pomegranate and lobster that are bloody difficult to deal with!
Use re-usable napkins as napkins. 8 of 15
Why use paper napkins or even cloth napkins on your buffet table when you can use these re-usable feminine napkins as napkins! Not only will each guest only use one during your party, they'll use it again and again! Available for $8.95 from Environmenstrual on etsy.
Play fun party games! 9 of 15
Give each other massages. 10 of 15
No lady party is complete unless everyone is forced to massage a stranger. Use an oil like the period-relief tincture pictured above.
Image: Amphora Aromatics
Read each other poems. 11 of 15
Share stories about your own menstruation. 12 of 15
Like this one by The Hazzards.
"In a Shakespeare costume, in a brand new swimsuit
First day of school, through four layers of clothes
Supervising a birthday party on a carousel
In white jean shorts everything shows
That's where I perioded my pants."
Eat cake with raspberry filling. 13 of 15
It's a metaphor.
Have fun anatomical items available for educational purposes. 14 of 15
Give everyone a cute party favor! 15 of 15
Everyone from your grandmother's sister-in-law to your 13-year-old best friend will love a Period Plushie! After all, it's important to keep your sense of humor when you're riddled with menstrual pain. Available for $8.00/each from cappysue's "little world of weird" on etsy. (Meant to be a toy do not apply to your hooha! Also, don't leave this loose around the dog!)
Click here for more red tent party ideas. Or, you know, don’t.