Lammily
Ideas
September 23, 2015

Darlena Cunha is a contributor to TIME

Do you remember “the talk?”

Whether you experienced it as a girl, or saw your friends go through it, or merely know about it from sit-coms, the puberty talk is a necessary part of growing up. It helps children going through these changes figure out what is going on and what to do about it. So why are so many shocked about a doll that does just that?

The Lammily doll, already heralded “normal Barbie” for her more realistic proportions and design, which comes with cellulite, acne and scar add-ons, has just added another normal occurrence to her repertoire: getting her period.

Some are grossed out over a pair of doll underwear and some stickers. They want their kids to be kids. To that, I say, well, don’t buy this doll then. If this isn’t the right way for your family to ease into the discussion of how to handle a period, you do what’s right for you.

But the existence of another tool to help parents discuss puberty with their girls is a welcome sign. Periods are normal. They’re not taboo. Nor are they an insult, despite what Donald Trump might say. And it looks like we need to convince not only our tween girls that this is the case, but also our culture at large, based on how often women are belittled for this bodily process over which they have little to no control.

Puberty is a personal transition that each set of parents has to navigate for themselves and their daughters. When I was growing up, they had several books (still in existence today, if that’s what you prefer for your daughter’s journey) written with the younger girl set in mind that explained this process and helped ease their transition. I actually never read them, myself. I think I had a brief, two-sentence primer from my mom, and it was all Judy Blume from there.

Will this doll work for all girls? No; at this age many won’t be playing with dolls anymore, if they ever did. But it could work for some.

The sticker pack comes with a pamphlet about body changes and a period tracker, which means girls will get to practice what could be a scary thing in their lives on something else first. Play acting isn’t a new concept, and we’ve been using it on much younger kids for decades now. A quick search on Amazon brings up dozens of potty-training dolls, eat-with-a-spoon dolls, burping dolls, sleeping and crying dolls—all for the 2- to 5-year-old set. If we figure toddlers can handle this kind of real life in their play, why not tweens?

It seems that many still find periods untouchable and dirty and taboo. There clings to them a residue of shame. If that is the case, then more than just tween girls need this doll. Society needs this doll. Because having periods is normal, and knowing how to navigate them without trepidation or shame is paramount to growing up.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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