Photo: red mango / Shutterstock.com
I check the little blue dots on my phone that tells me I’m ovulating. The dot pulses into a line also called a pre-menstrual migraine. I imagine becoming a fairy because according to Google fairies and elves do not have periods. I lie on the couch and watch all of the series Younger in three days, as I unload another egg.
In the first season of Younger, menstruation appears twice, never as blood, just fodder. In the fifth episode, the protagonist Lying Liza helps Doe-Eyed Kelsey (Sutton Foster and Lizzie McGuire) remove her goddess cup. What is a goddess cup? The 40-year-old pretending to be a 26-year-old publishing assistant asks—“A menstrual cup?” Kelsey replies. “A WHAT!?” Liza asks. In 2015, the menstrual cup was still a secret despite receiving its first patent in 1932 when The Dainty Maid company in Connecticut released La Daintette, a sleek green rubber cup.1
“Like a diaphragm?” Liza asks. “A WHAT!?” Lizzie McGuire shakes her head.
Fairy cup legends—type 6045 are stories of drinking vessels stolen or abandoned by fairies.2 In the German story of The Stolen Cup, a man rides between two mountain ranges while the underground people are celebrating. In 2015, Brooklyn is still underground people. In the first season of Younger, Josh the sexy tattoo artist takes Lying Liza on a date. “This is my favorite neighborhood,” he says outside St. Anne’s Warehouse with the Manhattan Bridge above his knit cap. “What is it called?” Lying Liza asks. “Dumbo,” he says. What was once Fulton’s Landing best known for Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, was almost named DANYA—District Around the Navy Yard Annex, which happens to be just about as sexy as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
In 2023, the underground people of Dumbo are always partying. They are always at a corner bar next to the tattoo parlor with moon in its name; they are always yelling and stumbling over historic cobblestones in what has become the country’s most Instagrammable neighborhood because someone rode through the historic buildings one day on their cruiser to realize the Manhattan Bridge frames the Empire State building perfectly. Global markets predict that as Dumbo’s property value continues to skyrocket the menstrual cup with hit $1.89 billion in sales by 2026. The underground people clap and cheer and clink their cups which make no sound because they are clear, black, or red silicone. They don’t often slosh over because the menstrual cup has been determined “highly effective” if you wear the right size.
In 2015, HelloFlo introduced the long-lost shero from the mythic realm: the period fairy.3 Dressed in red with wings made from winged overnight pads, the #vagical fairy is a fake-rival of the tooth fairy and jealous of Santa’s red suit. She’s a bit gender essentialist and replaces the “Department of Mythical Creatures years of being led by a boy’s club.” She leaves Always pads with wings under young menstruator’s pillows. “She paved the way for me,” the Tooth Fairy says in an interview. Only good blood and menstrual cups slosh between these non-menstruating fairies.
The story of The Stolen Cup takes a few turns. When interviewed about the goddess cup episode, Lizzie McGuire said, “I didn’t know what a Diva Cup was. It was an eye opener and I had a lot of questions at first.”4 The early ancestors of the menstrual cup included a convoluted belt with a string (not unlike the sanitary napkin belt) and a cup with an extended pouch that rests in the panties for extra heavy periods. In one version of The Stolen Cup, a man steals the cup and everyone panics on New Year’s Eve.
On New Year’s Eve, I am either on a plane bound for the underground people at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge or I am already underground where the people howl at their empty cups. In another version, the man is pelted by stones until he returns the cup to the underground people.
A silver cup is always sophic, always of the moon, and Sophia, a cup one might say of feminine secrets. In 2002 two women in Bristol launched the first reusable silicone menstrual cup, the Moon Cup. “People were repulsed,” one of the women reports to The Guardian.5 In 2019, Moon Cup redid its packaging to feature the sleek silicone chalice on the sleek white box for the very first time. In one version of the Stolen Cup, the cup is gold and a man throws the contents behind himself and singes his horse’s hair clean off. This is why people are afraid of menstrual cups. “What do you do with it when you’re done?” Lizzie McGuire asked. When the writers’ room said, “Oh you just put it in the dishwasher,” Lizzie McGuire said, “I almost threw up. I just cannot deal with that.” This is why it takes almost 20 years to put a sleek white cup on a sleek white box and reduce the long-term cost and waste of period products. In each version of the cup story, the man never keeps the cup, he always returns it, sometimes to a church.
In the bathroom stall, Lying Liza pulls the cup from Lizzie McGuire’s canal like a trash barge plucked from the East River that Whitman once loved. They celebrate over drinks in cups at a Brooklyn bar. Dumbo got its name not for the flying elephant but in an attempt to deter future development. “Put that in your West Elm and smoke it!” I cry outside Time Out Market where everyone is always half-dressed and they sell cookies the size of Lizzie McGuire’s face. No one understands a thing I say because everyone is a tourist in the underground city stealing cups until the BKLN fairies pick up cobble stones outside Powerhouse Books and begin pelting them. In the morning they all find the period fairy left the right-sized cups under their pillows along with a packet of heavy duty Cascade detergent.
Amy Bobeda holds an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics where she serves as director of the Naropa Writing Center and teachers pedagogy and processed-based art. She’s the author of Red Memory (FlowerSong Press), What Bird Are You? (Finishing Line Press), mi sin manitos (Ethel Press), Self-Guilded Walking Tours (ghost city summer series) and a forthcoming project from Spuytin Duyvil. She’s on Twitter @amybobeda & @everystoryisamenstrualstory on Instagram