Somewhere in between being a presenter, a broadcaster and an author, MC-ing the 2019 Women’s March in Sydney, speaking up about abortion rights and female empowerment and generally, being an all round awesome human being, Yumi Stynes has found the time to release a book about that one topic no one seems to talk about very much – periods!
Co-written with Dr Melissa Kang (aka THE Dolly Doctor),“Welcome to Your Period!” is an easy-to-read menstruation guide for pre-teens on “handling it like a boss.”
It covers literally every period-related topic imaginable. From the basics (what actually is a period?) to menstruating for the first time, playing sport while bleeding and period poverty, the book is full of expert advice, case studies and useful tips. (Also two BIG thumbs up for illustrator Jenny Latham whose drawings not only portray a diverse range of girls but are playful enough to make this whole menstruation-thing seem less daunting!)
I talked to Yumi about her hopes of breaking down the shame and mystery that surrounds periods, the famous Dolly Doctor and how this book will make life so much easier for girls (and parents!) around the world:
Why was it so important to you to write this book?
Yumi: It was important for me to write this book because there just isn’t one like it! If there had been ten – or even two! – really good period guidebooks then I would have been like, *shrug* – “nothing for me to do here!” But as it is, there are many puberty books which touch on periods but don’t offer much practical advice. Like what to do when you’re having a sleepover. Or how to talk to your Dad about it!
In the book, you talk about your Mum giving you a leaflet to explain periods. Some people had to watch videos. Some people don’t get any info at all. Why do you think no one seems to openly talk about menstruation?
Yumi: I know it’s so strange, isn’t it! Because 50 percent of the population has to deal with this, and it’s interesting and common and a fact of life, but we are taught to be ashamed of it. A lot of the shame is what we inherited from our families and our cultures, which traditionally view periods as dirty and embarrassing. Hopefully the newer generations are learning to shrug off period shame. It serves no one.
How did you initially connect with Dr Melissa Kang to make this happen?
Yumi: Dolly Doctor was a HERO of mine when I was a kid and I got to meet her in person when she was a guest on my podcast ‘Ladies, We Need to Talk’. Every time I spent time with Dr Melissa, I was struck by her calm, her smarts and her years of experience. She’s so much more than an agony aunt! She’s also an associate professor, she’s a practising physician and expert in adolescent health. She’s a mother of 3 girls (and 1 boy) and she’s kind! I was also struck by how much her work resonated with women across our generation and older, and younger. Her reach is quite large and her work is universally respected.
Dolly Doctor was such a huge part of so many people’s lives growing up. Do you think kids these days are missing out or do things like Google fill that hole?
Yumi: Kids these days can try to fill the info gap with Google but the problem is, the intel they get is not necessarily correct, nor is it age-appropriate. Recently a publication did a study of all the magazines with health advice and Dolly Doctor was the only one who was actually scientifically correct 100 per cent of the time. In an age of misinformation, anti-vax nonsense and a growing need to respect science and scientific rigor, having Dr Melissa Kang onboard was crucial and gives the book ‘Welcome to Your Period’ pretty serious credibility.
Who should read this book?
Yumi: The book is aimed specifically at kids who are about to or have just started menstruating. Typically, that’s a girl aged between 10 and 15, but of course the scope is wider than that. We also hope single dads read the book, mums like me who think they’re smart but realise there’s quite a bit to get one’s head around, and even young women who’ve been getting periods for a while but may want to make sure they understand – clearly – what is going on with their bodies.
Do you think boys could benefit from a quick peek too?
Yumi: Yes! And just like boys LOVED to read Dolly Doctor, boys love this book too. It’s an insight into something rather wonderful.
What’s next for you? Another book or podcast maybe?
Yumi: Dr Melissa and I are working on another book together. Some days I think it’s going to be a breeze and I’m so excited – other days I can’t believe how hard it is and I want to lie on the floor and cry and admit utter defeat! The podcast ‘Ladies, We Need to Talk’ is a blockbuster for the ABC and a source of immense pride for me. We touch on all kinds of taboo topics like finding intimacy after sexual assault, the mental load, poo (!) and body image. We have been renewed for another season and are in production right now. Recently I went to an event for the podcast and many young women told me their lives have been changed because of it. I hope that people reading this can track down the podcast and have a listen because honestly, it’s some of my best work!
Yumi Stynes and Dr Melissa Kang’s book ‘Welcome to Your Period!’ can be purchased through major book sellers and below through iTunes (affiliate link):