One day, my stepdaughter came over from a visit to her grandparents’ house with a lost molar, three dollars, and a bag of confetti to show for it. I was dealing with the misery of PMS at the time: bloating, spotting, cramps, and an insatiable appetite with its attached guilt. Then it occurred to me—wouldn’t it be nice to have a period fairy?
After all, if the loss of a tooth is scary, try being a teenager and one day finding blood dripping from your down there. No matter how much you have heard about it (that is, if someone actually told you about it beforehand), you are terrified. My sister-in-law begged her mom not to tell her dad about it, because she thought she had done something wrong. My friend’s daughter came to her after her first period, weeping. “I’m glad it’s finally over,” she said.
“I know it’s hard being a woman, but you get some time out until next month,” Jill reassured her.
“Next month?” her daughter cried. “Isn’t it supposed to happen once a year?”
I remember my own first time, the summer of seventh grade. One day I was a kid playing with my brothers, and overnight, I grew up. The damn thing went on for two weeks, robbing my energy. Plus, it’s not easy running around with a wet, bulky pad between your legs. I could have used a gentle fairy then and I could certainly use one now.
The next time menses hits, I want to wake up covered in glitter—maybe with a box of chocolates (anything to satisfy the sugar cravings), crisp bills in a pink gauze bag, and a sweet note from the Period Fairy telling me how brave I must have been when it happened, how marvelously my genitourinary system is working, how well I have cared for my uterus and ovaries, and that mine is the best flow she has ever seen. That it is, in fact, a lovely gift to the world—or, if not the world, then at least to her fairyland. I also want the note to be on a large scroll (because large problems require large fairies), written on aged paper, and wrapped with a ribbon. I want her to put some thought into it, take her time, maybe write it in script—curly handwriting is fine, the way she does for my stepdaughters when they are at our house. And she should sign it, Love, your friend, the Period Fairy.
Alternatively, if I get my period in the middle of the day, I’d love to find confetti spread on my bed. Rose petals are fine too. Those, plus the above-mentioned items. If it’s not too much, 600 mg of Motrin would also be appreciated. And she shouldn’t bother with dollar bills. Bigger losses require more money.
Because periods don’t just come with pain and blood loss, they bring other losses, too.
If I’m a woman who wants children, then every one of these episodes signifies a lost opportunity, which can be psychologically devastating.
If I’m a woman who doesn’t want children, then I’m enduring pointless cramps once a month.
If I’m part of a religion that believes my period makes me unclean, then I can’t participate in religious rituals.
If I’m a woman who feels gross when I get my period, then I avoid swimming or the hot tub.
If I’m with a man who is afraid of blood, there’s no sex for me that week.
If I complain, then I get condescending remarks from men, who wish they could use the period excuse “card” once a month. (Yes, the loss of the egg that would become their child is suddenly a “card.”)
If I get bloating in a culture where Cosmo calls a size-six model plus size, I am certainly likely to suffer body hatred of a kind that is resistant to friends’ reassurances. The fairy could be immensely helpful here.
Most importantly, the event that turned me into a woman has also marginalized me. The world suddenly started seeing me as crazy, emotional, and irrational—and in some cases unfit to make good decisions in society. Yet, I am expected to have babies, because that’s what menses has condensed me to—a ticking biological clock.
Have I made my case, Period Fairy? When can we get started?