Kotex ad emphasizing shame, 1992
See ads for Pursettes: September 1972 (letter testimonial) - August 1973 (letter testimonial) - February 1974 (cartoon story) - August 1974 (cartoon story) - October 1974 (cartoon story) See a 1965 ad for a Pursettes school educational kit - Pursettes Getting to Know Yourself booklet for girls - other teaching booklets: Growing Up and Liking It and How Shall I Tell My Daughter?
See more Kotex items: First ad (1921) - ad 1928 (Sears and Roebuck catalog) - Lee Miller ads (first real person in amenstrual hygiene ad, 1928) - Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (booklet for girls, 1928, Australian edition; there are many links here to Kotex items) - Preparing for Womanhood (1920s, booklet for girls; Australian edition) - 1920s booklet in Spanish showing disposal method - box from about 1969 - "Are you in the know?" ads (Kotex) (1949)(1953)(1964)(booklet, 1956) - See more ads on the Ads for Teenagers main page
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

Kotex menstrual napkin ad, March 19, 1927

Kotex's early ads, from 1921 through the end of the twenties, exemplified what might be called the Golden Age of American Illustration. The artists painted - and photographed - realistically and very well, as you see below. None of that newfangled art from the Armory Show 14 years earlier: no influence of Brancusi, Seurat or Cézanne. Ads sell products and if readers don't like the art - some of the Armory art offends the average person today - they don't buy.

Kotex doesn't mince words presenting its product. Women must protect themselves and their surroundings from any trace of menstruation, be it odor or stain or bulge - considerations that ring true today. What's more, registered nurse Ellen J. Buckland, who is credited with the ad's text, writes, "A majority of the commoner ailments, according to some medical authorities, are due to the use of unsanitary, makeshift ways in meeting woman's most distressing hygienic problem." (This echoes German doctors' pleas of a few decades earlier to at least use something!) By 1927 fewer women made their own washable menstrual napkins (see an Italian sample, which is more elaborate than the common bird's-eye item many Americans created), but enough for Nurse Buckland to lead off her pitch discouraging its use, although she does not call it by its name, mentioning only "laundry" - neither does she use the word "menstruation" or its synonyms other than "handicap" and "problem."

Kotex and later, Tampax, both paired medical authority with their products, just as many companies did, using the public's respect for the medical establishment as a selling tool.

Kotex was king - um, queen? - in 1927 but challenged by many other companies, here and abroad. Read more about these competing products in the fascinating Gilbreth Report of 1927.

And see more early Kotex ads and an ad for another way to ban traces of menstruation.

Click on the ad to see readable enlargements, or click for the main picture, ad text, and the small drawings at right.
Kotex ad emphasizing shame, 1992

See ads for menarche-education booklets: Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (Kotex, 1933), Tampax tampons (1970, with Susan Dey), Personal Products (1955, with Carol Lynley), and German o.b. tampons (lower ad, 1981)
See also the booklets How shall I tell my daughter? (Modess, various dates), Growing up and liking it (Modess, various dates), and Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (Kotex, 1928).
And read Lynn Peril's series about these and similar booklets!
See another ad for As One Girl to Another (1942), and the booklet itself.
© 2004 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org