My Little Red Book
by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
Non-fiction, Self-Help, Women's Issues
My Little Red Book written by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff is a conglomerate memoir of that sacred experience, which is a woman's first period. This splendid little anthology begins with the story of the editor getting her first period while on water skis in a bright yellow bathing suit, and moves from there to woman after woman, mothers and daughters, grandmas and aunts sharing their horrors, their joys and their stories of shame.
There is an account of a mother telling her daughter how amazing and symbolic this event is in their lives as African American women, she tells of how in the days of their great-grandmothers the beginning of menstruation marked a change from a girl to a woman. That day was feared as it meant that her slave value went up and therefore many times she would be sold away from her family to benefit the slave owner. I just couldn't shake that account, still can't.
Even now so many girls look upon the day of their first period with apprehension, fear, guilt, and shame however I find that this book is pioneer to change that. It is no Judy Blume and I thank God that it isn't as women are tired of learning about belted pads, which are so not happening anymore. The author wants this book to be more than just a collection of women telling their stories, but a breakthrough, a change in the way first periods (and periods in general) are perceived, and everyone's attitudes towards them.
On of my favourite stories in My Little Red Book is an essay by Gloria Steinem called "If Men Could Menstruate" (p. 114) it is over-the-top-funny and I just had to agree (not to her extreme, but still) if men did menstruate it would be a test of manhood, a time of the month filled with pride and glorification. What is wrong with us women!?! Not that periods are great, they really aren't that fun but we should see them as what they are, an amazing ability that we have to monthly remember our common bonds of womanhood, and well, that we have the god-given ability to pro-create!
I really enjoyed this book, it is a great resource to share with your daughter, I can't say that I would let her read every story (if she were my 12 year-old) as there is mature content in a couple of the stories, but it would be great to read through it together. My Little Red Book gets my full recommendation, it is spectacular in that it captures all the angles of a girl becoming a woman.
Personally though reading through this I feel slighted . No, it isn't anything wrong with the book, it is that I cannot remember really anything about my first period. I don't think it was that monumental, I wasn't apprehensive and I wasn't scared that I was dying. I don't remember it at all. I kept thinking throughout the book (and still) that there would be something to trigger my memory in one of the stories, I didn't find it. I can't even remember how old I was. I know I was around 12 or so, maybe almost 13 but that is a guess. My friends have told me of amazing dinners they go out to with their mothers, get their hair and nails done, get all fancied up and have a celebration of womanhood where they learn the importance of what is happening and how to handle it, and how to not be ashamed of who they are as women. That didn't happen for me, I bit my nails so getting them done was out, and I didn't like anyone messing with my hair or wearing fancy dresses, still I would have liked some sort of adapted version of that. If I have daughters, I will figure out what they would enjoy and we will have that celebration!
Because the point of the book is to open women up to talk about their experiences, let's do it. If you are a women, what do you remember about this grand event which was your first period? Would you have wished your mom to make a bigger deal about it? Did she even know when you started?
Here are the other stops on the blog tour:
At Home With Books
She Reads and Reads