Chelsea VonChaz, the founder of menstrual equity program #HappyPeriod, wants to teach the youth about their bodies. She’s hyperaware of the stigmas around discussing the way our bodies operate, especially when it comes to periods. When ESSENCE Girls United asked her why she thinks there’s so much misinformation, she said, “I think a major part of it is the fact that it’s not implemented in the education system. A lot of inner city schools and school districts do not have any type of programming surrounding sex [education.] The ones that do, there is no mention of periods.”
She also says that the nonchalant attitudes, plus the inclination to continue the tradition of experiencing periods but not discussing them, has made even mentioning them taboo. During our conversation, she recalls receiving negative responses from educational spaces. “You’d be surprised [at] the pushback I get on calls and meetings,” VonChaz said. “Like, ‘oh, this is too much—[kids] won’t understand.'”
VonChaz is also behind PPE machines in California. These vending machine-style dispensers offer free menstrual products to those who need them.
By early 2020, VonChaz’s #HappyPeriod had a newly launched menstrual health program, complete with pop ups and various workshops, but had to halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying true to her mission of education meeting action though service, she remained especially interested in hosting workshops for young girls to learn about their periods, giving them free menstruation products and offering a real curriculum.
This is what makes her 37-page Self e-book, a part of a ‘Period Posse‘ campaign kicked off by ModiBodi, so important. The book is a part of a larger program that focuses on period care and self efficacy.
“When a lot of people think about reproductive care, they want to focus on pregnancy or abortion,” VonChaz said. “They’re not thinking about what comes before that.” Within the e-book, there are comprehensive breakdowns of topics like Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and disorders, period tracking, what types of products to use for your body and healing. A glossary is included as well. “It’s super important to love your body and treat it well,” one of the self love pages reads. “Think of your body as your home, that you own and have complete control over.”
VonChaz believes that taking young people up to the autonomy that they have over their bodies is vital part of empowering them. Rather than believe that they will respond poorly to the information, she has hope that it will resonate deeply and give them a greater understanding of self. “Let’s just see, you know what I’m saying?,” she said. “Just give it a chance, as opposing to not doing nothing at all.”
Keep up with Chelsea by following her on Instagram.