6 funny, painfully honest comics about periods that tell it like it is.

Periods are a bloody mess, both literally and figuratively.

After all, part of the body is actually shedding itself. It's uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and often annoying. But for women, it's just life; billions of us deal with it on the regular.

And yet, discussing menstruation is still often considered taboo, impolite, or just plain gross. And this lack of open, honest conversation can cost people with periods a lot of money every single day.


In most states, pads, tampons, and cups are taxed like luxuries and not necessities. Eyebrow-raising myths, jokes, and stereotypes about pre-menstrual syndrome and menstruation continue to circulate. The big brands don't even show or mention period blood in commercials for products used to catch and absorb period blood. The shame associated with menstruation is, well, shameful.

Photo by iStock.

That's why Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann decided to spread some period-positivity with their weekly webcomic.

Williams, 24, and Schneemann, 35, met in art school and quickly became friends. Both have had a few frustrating and stressful experiences related to women's health issues. While the women knew they weren't the only ones, they also knew so something needed to be done.

"As we talked about it, we realized that we both felt that more information needs to be available and that periods are something that needs to be talked about more openly to de-stigmatize the whole conversation around women’s reproductive health," Schneemann writes in an e-mail interview.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

The duo started publishing "The Mean Magenta" online in the summer of 2016. It's a heartfelt, funny, and delightfully honest portrayal of modern menstruation that features four characters, each with their own period ups and downs. Schneemann and Williams didn't schedule an official launch or lavish marketing blitz, so their fanbase has grown organically. Why does it work? Because, finally, there's a digital space to laugh, joke, and commiserate about having a period.

"What has been really cool has been seeing people warm up to it all. I have loved discussing our comic in person with people and almost always the first reaction is confusion or disgust but once I finish explaining, or they follow along online for a few weeks, they are also excited by 'The Mean Magenta' in the end," Williams writes in an e-mail interview. "That’s the point, right? Discussing periods openly makes the unknown more normalized."

There's a comic for every menstruation moment. Here are six of my favorites.

1. You never forget your first period, even if you'd prefer not to.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

2. Before long, you prepare for each one like you're packing for a camping trip. ("Better safe than sorry.")

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

3. Which often leads to a little something accidentally tumbling out of your purse. It happens.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

4. Periods are often uncomfortable. But most days, you just have to grin and bear it.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

5. Even when you can stretch out, it doesn't mean you can find relief.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

6. But no matter your experience, just remember you're not alone.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

Whether or not you menstruate, you can do your part to be period-positive.

Don't shut down or shy away from conversations about periods. This comic shows that we need period-positive people now more than ever.

"Period positive people come in all shapes and sizes with all different temperaments. Take care of yourself, speak out in the way you can, and do not compare yourself to others in your learning process," Lily writes. "Someone may be out there spreading period positivity by shouting from the rooftops, others may be getting legislation passed, or making art with their blood. However, it is OK if your form of period positivity is discussing menstruation for the first time with a friend, or wearing a uterus pin in public. Period positive warriors come from all walks of life and every single one is important."

You can be a period-positive warrior without a tampon bazooka, but it doesn't hurt. Image by iStock.

Looking for other ways to help? Buy a box of pads or tampons to donate to a local homeless shelter. Talk to your elected officials about lifting the "tampon tax" and keeping birth control free and readily available. (It can do wonders for people with painful or inconsistent periods.) Or just be a friendly ear, a safe person to have open, honest conversations with.

"I think Lily and I both hope that our comic helps people to feel a little less alone," Schneemann writes. "We’re all in this together."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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