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'Little Miss Period' Is Tackling Menstruation Stigma in Japan

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Stigma attached to menstruation is common throughout the world, and it can be used to oppress women and girls, by denying them education and forcing them into dangerous situations. Join Global Citizen and take action on these issues here

There’s a new movie star in Japan and her name is Little Miss Period. She’s a pink, heart-shaped blob with bright red pants — and her goal is to get people to talk about menstruation. 

The film Little Miss Period was released last month in Japan by Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd. with the goal of sparking conversations and combatting stigma.

The movie is based on a 2017 manga — a Japanese comic — first published online by an artist named Ken Koyama, the Japan Times reported.

In the manga, the title character punches women in the gut — and men, if they fail to sympathize. 

The movie follows three women as they are visited by Little Miss Period. Aoko is an editor at a publishing house who must drag Little Miss Period around in a cart, while Rioho is a janitor with a secret at Aoko’s company who hates when Little Miss Period visits. Meanwhile, Aoko’s teenage sister, Hikaru, gets a visit from Little Miss Period while studying for a big test with her boyfriend. 

Menstruation is a stigmatized topic in Japan. 

“Until now, menstruation has been something to hide and many people completely lack correct understanding of it,” Kazue Muta, a sociology professor at Osaka University, told Reuters. “I can’t praise the manga 100% ... but it would be good if it were a step toward greater openness and education.”

Menstrual stigma remains a common problem throughout the world. It can force girls to miss out on opportunities such as securing a quality education, and in some countries, like Nepal, young women are even sent to stay in dangerous menstruation huts.

One woman who saw Little Miss Period, Kumiko Hanazawa, told Reuters she wanted men to see it as well.

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“Men don’t get how harsh menstruation can be for some women,” Hanazawa’s boyfriend, Nobuyoshi Yoshida, said. “This was easy to understand.”

One critic told Reuters that the film makes light of the topic, but the hope is that it will make periods less difficult to discuss, and ideally break down social barriers.