Disney’s Sex Ed Film: The Story Of Menstruation


From 1945 to 1951, Dis­ney pro­duced a series of edu­ca­tional films to be shown in Amer­i­can schools. How to bathe an infant. How not to catch a cold. Why you shouldn’t drive fast. Dis­ney cov­ered these sub­jects in its edu­ca­tional shorts, and then even­tu­ally got to the touchy sub­ject of biol­ogy and sex­u­al­ity. If there was ever a com­pany suited to talk about “vagi­nas” in the 1940s in a copacetic way, it was Dis­ney. Hence The Story of Menstruation.

The film runs 10 min­utes, com­bin­ing sci­en­tific facts with hygiene tips, and it was actu­ally com­mis­sioned by the Inter­na­tional Cello-Cotton Com­pany, the fore­run­ner of Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kotex prod­ucts. It was one of the first com­mer­cially spon­sored films to be dis­trib­uted to high schools.


It was dis­trib­uted with a book­let for teach­ers and stu­dents called Very Per­son­ally Yours that fea­tured adver­tis­ing of the Kotex brand of prod­ucts, and dis­cour­aged the use of tam­pons, where the mar­ket was dom­i­nated by the Tam­pax brand of rivals Proc­ter & Gamble.

The Story Of Men­stru­a­tion is believed to be the first film to use the word vagina in its screen­play. Nei­ther sex­u­al­ity nor repro­duc­tion is men­tioned in the film, and an empha­sis on san­i­ta­tion makes it, as Dis­ney his­to­rian Jim Korkis has sug­gested: “a hygienic cri­sis rather than a mat­u­ra­tion event.”

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