Jessica Biel Says She's "Done Laughing" at Period Jokes

"That's what we were taught cool girls should do—shrug off jokes, even if they were made at our expense."

Jessica Biel attends the 2024 Met Gala Celebrating "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2024 in New York City.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Actress Jessica Biel no longer thinks so-called "period jokes" are a laughing matter.

In a recent interview with Romper, the mom of two opened up about the internalized shame she still feels about something as common as menstruation, as well as the "cool girl" response to people poking fun at other people's periods.

“My knee-jerk reaction is still to hide the tampon in my sleeve and scurry like somebody who’s done something wrong to the bathroom,” she told the publication. “I still have that instinct. But I just try to check myself every time I’m about to make that move. I’m doing better at having some awareness around the fact that I’m doing that, and that’s the start.”

Biel admitted that her "re-education" when it comes to rejecting misogynistic jokes and viewpoints about menstruation "continues and probably will continue forever," adding that part of that re-education is refusing to laugh at period jokes.

A post shared by Jessica Biel

A photo posted by jessicabiel on

“I’m at that place in my life of: ‘Forget this, I am not laughing at these jokes anymore,’” she continued. “I think it just takes time to get to find a place of real true resolve and confidence within yourself about what makes you feel uncomfortable and what makes you feel comfortable. And just knowing that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and say it out loud.”

Biel recently penned an essay for TIME, opening up about her "30-year journey" of understanding her own period. That journey arguably started when the actress was a child and felt pressure to go along with and even laugh at jokes about periods.

"There was a joke I heard a lot growing up about people who get their periods. I won’t repeat it here, but believe me when I say it was disgusting, cruel, and harmful," she wrote. "It makes my blood boil when I think of it now, but when I was a teenager under constant pressure to be pleasant and agreeable, all I could do was try to laugh it off. That’s what we were taught cool girls should do—shrug off jokes, even if they were made at our expense.

"So many of us still carry that shame when it comes to our periods. We hide tampons up our sleeves so no one will see us carrying them to the bathroom. We keep quiet about what’s happening with our bodies," Biel continued. "It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn’t be this way. I’m interested in learning more about menstruation and encouraging young people to ask more questions. Periods are not only natural—they’re also extraordinary. They shouldn’t be so hard to talk about."

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A photo posted by jessicabiel on

As part of her ongoing period education and continued attempts to de-stigmatize menstruation, Biel wrote a book all about periods, aimed at educating children about both their and other people's bodies.

"People don’t talk enough about periods. PERIOD. So I wrote this book to change that," Biel wrote in an Instagram post highlighting the book, titled A Kid's Book About Periods. "If we grownups have the confidence to tell the truth about how menstruating bodies work, then we’ll give the kids around us the agency and voice to talk about their own bodies with confidence, now and for the rest of their lives."

In her interview with Romper, Biel explained that "a person who’s born with the female reproductive system and gets their period will be experiencing this at some point" and as a result will "have to talk to somebody about it."

"But somebody who never, ever gets one and doesn’t have a female reproductive system, they could go their whole life just kind of not having a clue what's happening and being told a bunch of lies and being kept in the dark because it’s weird," she continued. "And God forbid anyone says the word labia or vagina or anything, it freaks everybody out. I think it’s almost maybe even more important that friends and partners and siblings, just on board, knows it’s happening, knows it’s normal and doesn’t make (it) a big deal.”

Danielle Campoamor
Weekend Editor

Danielle Campoamor is Marie Claire's weekend editor covering all things news, celebrity, politics, culture, live events, and more. In addition, she is an award-winning freelance writer and former NBC journalist with over a decade of digital media experience covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mortality, gun violence, climate change, politics, celebrity news, culture, online trends, wellness, gender-based violence and other feminist issues. You can find her work in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, New York Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, TODAY, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Prism, Newsweek, Slate, HuffPost and more. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their two feral sons. When she is not writing, editing or doom scrolling she enjoys reading, cooking, debating current events and politics, traveling to Seattle to see her dear friends and losing Pokémon battles against her ruthless offspring. You can find her on X, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and all the places.