Andrea Yip is the creator of the Period Coloring Book, a sex positive and playful book about periods. Like Clue, the book aims to promote more open and honest conversations about people's experiences with menstruation. It has 30+ pages of illustrations that cover a range of topics, such as: cramps, bloating, pads, tampons, period sex, period poops and free bleeding.
2015 and 2016 have seen growing awareness and activism around menstruation, and this book aims to advance this movement. As a sexual health advocate, public health professional and bleeder herself, Andrea is passionate about celebrating, normalizing and challenging the stigma around periods.
We can't wait for Andrea's book to come out and take some time for meditative coloring breaks ourselves – so we caught up with her to ask some questions about her upcoming project.
What made you want to create this coloring book? What sparked your interest in menstruation or first made you realize you wanted to do this?
As a public health professional who started my career as a sexual health peer educator, I have always been very passionate about periods!
After speaking with some friends, I realized that there wasn't a lot of conversation out there about people's lived experiences with menstruation, so I started to illustrate some of these moments: from free bleeding to cramps to period sex. I noticed that the illustrations helped people reflect upon and tell their own stories about periods – I hope that's just one way people can use this book! Through greater knowledge and understanding of oneself, I think we can start to make more informed and healthy decisions around our sexual health.
Why is now the time for a period coloring book?
Periods have gotten a lot of media attention over the last couple of years: NPR dubbed 2015 the year of the period, Newsweek called 2016 the year of menstrual change, and this topic has even come up in the US election. I think now is the time to help expand and deepen the conversation around menstruation and challenge period stigma. I hope the book can help drive this!
What were some period taboos or myths you grew up hearing?
"Tampons can get 'lost' if pushed too far up into the vagina." Thankfully I busted this myth myself by learning about my own vagina. "Periods = bad moods." Although there is a connection to moods, this statement isn't true and gives periods a negative connotation.
How was your education around menstruation growing up? How can it improve today?
Growing up as a Canadian kid in the 90s, I learned about the biology behind menstruation in grade school and ended up learning about the experience of periods by watching Degrassi, a Canadian youth drama where the characters would grapple with real-life issues like periods, sex and pregnancy. Funny enough, I didn't really talk to anyone about periods.
Today, there generally appears to be a greater openness around menstruation. There is also a wealth of (mis)information available online. When it comes to improving education around periods, I see an opportunity to help people find/assess accurate, evidence-based information on the internet. I also see an opportunity to provide more comprehensive sexual health education in the classroom that goes beyond biology. I'd love to hear more conversations about the experience of menstruation, and how it plays a role in our self-identity and culture.
Do you track your period? If yes, what have you learned since becoming more aware of your cycle and period?
I do – In fact, one tool I use is Clue!
What I have really appreciated about Clue is the option to track body/vitality changes that I wasn't even aware of (bad hair days!). It has also given me a deeper and evidence-based appreciation for my cyclical patterns. The biological scientist in me loves to geek out.
Adult coloring books are gaining popularity for mindfulness and relaxation. Why should more people try coloring books?
I think there are a lot of benefits to coloring. I find coloring books are a fun and relaxing way to engage in self-care. I love using coloring as a time to get into a mind space where I can reflect on my day. I also appreciate that it's an activity that I can do in or out of the home and with others. As someone who spends a lot of time on a computer, it feels great to physically hold and use pencil crayons again!