I have been doing some preliminary readings in preparation for a feminist-type research project I hope to undertake at my college this summer. Many of the readings I have done have either gone into detail about, or at least briefly mentioned, the problem of shame and dirtiness surrounding women in our society when it comes to menstruation.
Shame sells menstrual products.
The idea of shame is widespread in advertisements for menstrual products. This 1992 ad describes how Kotex pads will keep girls from being embarrassed by their hot lab partner finding out she’s on he period. This buys into the idea that menstruation, a perfectly natural part of women’s lives, is something to be ashamed of and to hide from everyone, especially those cute boys in your life. This 1990 Tampax tampons ad plays into the idea that a girl’s virginity is tied to her worth, and that a girl who loses her virginity is shameful, by assuring potential buyers that “you can use them at any age and still be a virgin.”
Along those same lines, the following, more recent ad for Tampax Pearl Tampons also buys into the idea of shame. Notice how it doesn’t go into any detail about why this particular product is supposedly such an “upgrade.” All it says is that it’s their “best protection ever” from those possible leaks that are to be avoided at all costs if women want to avoid long-lasting humiliation and shame.
This trend does not only apply to advertising for menstrual products, but it is especially troubling in this case because menstruation is a very natural function, and one for the most part, cannot be controlled.
For more advertisements, check out the Museum of Menstruation website.