This may sound like a fairy tale, but believe it or not Disney was way ahead of its time when it came to talking about vaginas. In 1946, Walt Disney Productions was commissioned by the International Cello-Cotton Company (makers of Kotex products) to produce a film called The Story of Menstruation. The 10-minute animated short, which is said to have marked the very first time that the word “vagina” was used in a screenplay, was never distributed to movie theaters, but was seen by over 100 million students in health ed classes across America.
According to Wikipedia, “Gynecologist Mason Hohn was hired as a consultant to ensure that the film was scientifically accurate.” The hope was that having him on board would “increase the likelihood that school doctors and nurses would allow the film to be shown.” It did and then the film gained even wider acceptance after receiving the highest honor, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
The film is a product of its time so as you would expect it avoids talk of sexuality or reproduction. But it does do a bang-up job explaining the biology behind the cyclical process, while offering girls nuggets of advice on how to deal with their periods, some of which we’d argue still hold up today.
From both a historical and cultural standpoint it’s really quite interesting and entertaining to view this film 70 years after it was made. However, if you don’t want to devote the full 9+ minutes to watching from beginning to end, here are the time code markers for some of Disney’s most magical menstruation moments:
First mention of “vagina” (2:31)
Menstrual blood is shown as white instead of red (4:05)
Busting “old taboos” (6:00)
Exercises and posture to help with cramps (7:32)