In search of something to watch on TV, and admittedly desperate for something new, I stumbled across a rerun of Blossom, the TV show from the ‘90s. In this episode Blossom gets her first period. Right up my alley!
In the first scene, we see Blossom shopping for tampons and trying to be as invisible as possible. The checkout clerk just happens to be a male friend from school, and she is so embarrassed she throws the tampons down and ends up buying everything except what she came for.
Later she talks with her quirky friend, Six, who’s already started her period. When Blossom asks how she learned about her period, Six responds, “From the box of tampons I got from my mother’s closet.” Blossom knows the basics of puberty from the class where the boys were kicked out and the shades were lowered. This scene sets the stage for just how much she yearns for her mother to help her through this challenging transition, and how her absence has left a huge void. Toward the end of their humorous conversation, she tells her friend that she’s disappointed no one consulted her on periods and that the whole “woman thing” is totally overrated.
Further into the episode, Blossom has a dream about going into her kitchen where she finds her mother, but instead of her actual mother it’s Phylicia Rashad. Phylicia’s baked her a big pink cake and used piped icing to explain the female reproductive anatomy and how that becomes her period (priceless). Feeling supported, Blossom is grateful to have her mother there to impart this information to her. She wakes up in the middle of the night and goes downstairs with the hope her mother will be there with the cake. When she isn’t, Blossom’s pain and loss are evident.
I was impressed with how the writers and director handled the subject matter — especially since it was shot in the ’90s. For me, the core theme is Blossom’s deep desire to have her mother there to help her through this challenging transition. Unfortunately, her mother isn’t in the picture, which leaves her best friend, father, goofy brothers and an older female friend of the family to confide in. The director, writer and Mayim Bialik as Blossom, did an amazing job capturing what that must feel like to be a 14-year-old girl who hasn’t gotten the information and tools to weather the physical and emotional challenges of puberty and periods.
Finally, the last, touching part of this show is that in the end, Blossom has to confide in her father and brothers. As embarrassing as it is for her, the males in her family rise to the occasion and help her celebrate becoming a woman.
Why did this show resonate so strongly for me? The entire transitional process of puberty and periods for a girl can be challenging, and this show never wavers from how Blossom feels about what is happening and being ill-prepared. It addresses the profound feeling of loss around not having her mother or a trusted female to guide her through this rite of passage.
I think the other reason I enjoyed it so much was because, unfortunately, we are unlikely to see anything like this on television today. We’ll see all manner of killing and violence, but not that level of raw, honest television when it comes to topics like puberty, periods and sex.
The concept of puberty and periods hasn’t changed from the beginning of time, and it still is a taboo topic. Instead of teaching our girls that their bodies are amazing and the truth around puberty and periods, we stay silent and allow girls to enter puberty feeling just as Blossom did, even if there is a mother present. I truly believe the greatest gift you can give your daughters is to educate them about the entire story of puberty and periods. Further, when they get their periods, teach them it’s something to celebrate and to be proud of their bodies, rather than ashamed. Doesn’t every young woman deserve this?