Chart Your Cycle and Adventures in Menstruating #1-3
I’m one of those women who has never been terribly fond of her period. I spent years trying to escape my own bodily functions and wrote my undergraduate thesis on suppressing menstruation by using birth control pills. More recently, I’ve discovered that my lifelong migraines are linked to my cycle. My period and I have come to an understanding, so while I don’t make up funny nicknames for it, I use cloth pads and organic tampons whenever possible. But I have never been overly fond of my menses and to say my feelings about menstruating are conflicted is quite an understatement. So, proactively and deliberately, I asked to write about Chella Quint’s _Adventures in Menstruating _and _Chart Your Cycle _zines to challenge my own views about my cycle. In addition to learning all sorts of useful information about our cycles and depictions of menstruation in mass media, I developed a new appreciation for zines. The unending conversations these have produced with my friends and partner have been hilarious and enlightening, and I’m sort of enamored with Quint and her work.
Chart Your Cycle was Quint’s first zine, produced in 2005 as part of the 24 Hour Zine Thing. It includes a ten-year chart to track your cycle's ups and down, anatomy diagrams, and resources for female-friendly cycle information and menstrual supplies. It includes a humorous review of a belted pad, as well as an interview with Quint’s mother, the first of an ongoing series of interviews with women of all ages and backgrounds about menstrual taboos and their feelings about their cycles.
Because she apparently had so much fun with the first one, Quint followed up CYC with the Adventures in Menstruating _series, of which three issues are available so far, and frankly, it would be nearly impossible to choose just one as a favorite. The lighthearted, pro-woman take on your period is refreshing and necessary, and I literally screamed with happy laughter while reading each of these. My suggestion: request a copy of all three (or four to include _Chart Your Cycle).
Issue One is packed. Vintage feminine hygiene advertisements are deconstructed, and we receive a crash course in both tampon insertion and imperialism in advertising. Zine #2 includes an interview with Quint’s grandmother about menstruation and pregnancy, and billboards about period products are analyzed a la the vintage ads of the first zine. Quint also does a section called “Product Testing” and reviews Freshelle hygienic wipes, which is both wildly entertaining and completely on point.
My favorite section may have been "Leakage Horror Stories," where Quint and friends detail stories from their youth of leaking in public. Unlike the stereotypical Seventeen-style anecdotes about cute boys and your errant tampon string, these horror stories have an empowering message behind the embarrassment: you’re not alone, and it really isn’t your fault. Did I mention the zines’ hilarious color covers that replicate vintage pulp novels, but have since been Photoshopped to portray leaking, menstrual women?
AiM #3 is the largest to date. It begins with an assessment of feminine hygiene versus war propaganda and the disgustingly similar framework around both. Along these lines, we learn how menstrual pads were born out of the wartime surgical bandage leftovers, prompting the question: how did a bleeding wound come to be equated with our nether regions? Quint goes on to review _Menopause the Musical _(and deconstructs the critical pans while she’s at it) and sanitary disposal units, including pictures! She also discusses inadvertently synching up your cycle with female coworkers and Tampon Crafts.
If you love your period, laughing about your period, or want to hate it less, I wholeheartedly recommend this zine series in its entirety. These handy little booklets have literally changed my entire outlook on menstruation, and they’re a surefire way to spark confessionals among close friends or, if you’re lucky, a stranger on the subway.