This short animated film is made by Shweta bendre in association with the Ford foundation and Menstrupedia. It was made as part of her final degree project in the National Institute of Design and is based on dispelling the myths and taboos related to the subject of menstruation in our country.This animation film is made with the objective of becoming a visual communication tool that can be used as an aid in conducting workshops in schools as well as spreading awareness on social media about the same, in a simple and sensitive manner, helping in physical as well as psychological development of a girl entering puberty.
Growing up in a metro in a well-to-do middle class family I had the good fortune of being well educated from a privileged school. In school we had to attend a mandatory class explaining to us about the process of menstruation around eighth grade. They explained to us that as a girl reaches a certain age she will experience her first period and nothing more. We were left in the dark about the details of it.
As a child I don’t ever remember speaking to my parents about anything remotely related to a woman’s puberty, growth or sexuality. And hence I never knew that this part of an individual’s life existed. Of course the television was a source of many questions about changes happening in one’s body related to growth, love and relationships. Talking about periods or sex itself was a taboo and even today, just like then, I find my parents switching channels whenever there is a sanitary napkin commercial on screen.
Back then nothing was said and it was taken for granted that I am not supposed to ask any questions about it. So when I think about it, the fact is that my mind-set was conditioned to not think about it which led to the primary human fear of the unknown within me. I remember being scared as to the moment when I would get my periods as it was taught to me to be taboo.
Even though my mother is a Gynaecologist herself and I went to an all girls school I still faced many of the communication problems that most girls do just because they do not have an open platform to turn to. A platform to tell them that healthy communication is the only way to lead to a better overall development at such an early age. It greatly affects one’s physical as well as physiological growth. Along with dangerous diseases and infections that occur due to the lack of hygiene knowledge, the girls are also faced with self-esteem issues as menstruation has always been a taboo subject.
It made me think how different my experience of the same process would have been growing up if girls of my generation had a friendly and non-judgmental adviser or means of communication to look to. Also having made friends with girls from all walks of life I have seen and heard the horror stories associated with the subject just because of the dearth of this “censored” information. So many restrictions are inflicted upon these young women without actually anyone ever asking the reasons behind them.
The effects of these on a growing girl’s psyche as well as health could be disastrous. If the right information is given at the right age in a way that relates to them this issue could be resolved. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Imagine a day where the society actually takes pride in possessing knowledge related to the process of menstruation![/inlinetweet]
I have always felt how great it could be if I could contribute through my work for dispelling these myths while conveying vital information about health and hygiene related to the subject of menstruation.
Menstruation has always been such a hush-hush subject and had numerous taboos and myths related to it in our country. Most of these myths stem from the conditions of women in olden times and are not relevant anymore. However they have somehow gotten intertwined with religious beliefs and practices over time. So dispelling these myths in a insensitive or ill informed way could lead to hurting the sentiments of various religious groups.
Still, there is a dire need to inform people of our country about the harm caused to a girl’s physical and psychological well-being because of these practices while giving right information related to health and hygiene.
The medium of animation has often been used to tackle sensitive issues worldwide. It provides a light and neutral mode of communication of a sensitive situation for the betterment of society without hurting people’s sentiments. Especially in a country like India with huge cultural diversity using animation as a communication tool may prove highly effective.
There have been very few instances where animation is used as a communicative tool for social causes. It mostly has a commercial appeal to it. I believe it is about time we use animation as a tool to educate the masses in a way that they can understand and relate to as animation surpasses most boundaries of culture and language.
It occurred to me that animation would be the perfect medium to sensitize people about menstruation.
The key points that I wanted my animation to focus on was that menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of, that it is a natural process that in fact aids in the miracle of life.
Character Design and Background Design:
Shweta studied B.Des in Animation film design from Symbiosis Institute of Design Pune and M.Des in Animation Film Design from NID Ahmedabad. She loves to travel, explore new places, read , film-making and feels very passionately about women issues. Loves 2D, experimental and stop-motion animation!
You can see her other work here
and More short films by her here