Toni The Tampon Is Breaking Down The Stigma Of Periods For Girls

Being a teenage girl means spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about how to discreetly remove a tampon from your bag, hide it somewhere on your person, and make it to the nearest bathroom and back without letting anyone around you know that – horror of horrors – you've got your period.
Now imagine that stigma super-sized. Artist Cass Clemmer grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and was taught nothing about her period. "I didn't know what a uterus was," she told Mashable last year. "I didn't know where this blood was even coming from or why. The only thing I was taught was how to clean it up so the world didn't see it."
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And so, when she was older, Cass created Toni the Tampon, a bizarrely adorable tampon with googly eyes who accompanies Cass on her journeys around the world. Naturally, Toni has an Instagram account, on which there are pictures of Toni on the Women's March, Toni hanging out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Toni at a brewery (tampons need beer, too), playing in the snow and even dressing up for Halloween (as Frankenstein's monster and a Mummy – top marks for effort).
Late last year, Cass released a colouring book to further Toni's cause. "It's a tough conversation to have with kids, especially when you consider that adults are often struggling with their own internalised period shame." She hopes that, by releasing the book, the conversation will flow (sorry) more easily.
In the book, Toni even has a few pals and shares adventures with Marina the Menstrual Cup, Sebastian the Sponge and Patrice the Pad.
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FYI, Toni is purposely ambiguous about identifying as a certain gender. Sebastian the Sponge is male. Cass decided not to make her characters all cis female in order to represent genderqueer people with periods.
You can follow Toni on Instagram here. Just don't expect Cass to post any new pictures today – it's International Women's Day after all and, in the spirit of #DayWithoutAWoman, she and Toni are taking the day off.
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