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Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

Olympic Gymnast Cathy Rigby and Stayfree menstrual pads

Sports have usually meant freedom of movement in advertising for menstrual hygiene, and the American Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby personified that in many ads for Stayfree pads in the 1980s. Unlike Lee Miller, Carol Lynley and Susan Dey, but like Mary Lou Retton, also an Olympic gymnast, she was already a famous person when she made these ads, which showed her willingness to take chances.

She showed her boldness (but read the e-mail toward the bottom of this page that objects to my characterization) by posing nude in a hazy photograph for an article about her in the 21 August 1972 American Sports Illustrated magazine (second photo below), the same year of her disappointing Olympic performance; Life magazine put her on its 6 May 1972 cover, (below), writing that her coach rated her as one of the two best women gymnasts in the world (the other being Russian Ludmilla Turistcheva). She had won the silver medal in balance beam in the 1970 world championships.

Rigby contended in the SI article that two Olympic sports, diving and gymnastics, should be performed nude, for esthetic reasons. This might be the only time SI published a nude photo of anybody (second photo below), although the later swimsuit issues might make me a liar.

She has had a colorful career, performing Peter Pan on the stage this year (1999; see a poster from 1989, below) and in the past to rave reviews, marrying a pro football player (Mary Lou Retton married a football player, too), and being famously bulimic, perhaps an occupational disorder of gymnasts. (Did she really need a pad in the ad below? Women with eating disorders often don't menstruate.) I have seen her recently in advertising for exercise equipment (a danger sign, I think, for anorectics), and she has made videos about anorexia. The title of the Sports Illustrated article, "Sugar and Spice - and Iron," still applies!

Another Cathy Rigby, this one a writer for Playboy, interviewed me for that magazine, and told me she was a high school student when the Rigby ads appeared, and suffered from the teasing of her classmates.

The advertisement is from the American Parents magazine, May 1982, 10 years after her appearance in the Olympics. Read a joke (about two-thirds of the way down the linked page) inspired by this picture.

LISTEN to Ms. Rigby promote Stayfree pads on the radio in 1982. I thank the generous radio man who sent this:

Mr. Finley--

The Rely radio spot brought back memories. I went through my collection of spots and found three thirty seconds radio spots for Rely. If you would like to hear them I can send them to you. I spent 17 years at a local AM/FM station with my major job assignment was transferring commercials onto the cartridges used in the air studios. . . .

[He also sent three ads for Rely tampons.]

I have been enjoying your site for years -- your talents, time and presentations are enjoyed by many.


Many pictures, long download!
(More Rigby ads)

NEXT famous woman - Lee Miller - Susan Dey - Carol Lynley - Mary Lou Retton - Cybill Shepherd - Cheryl Tiegs & Ali McGraw - Brenda Vaccaro


Above: From May 1982, 10 years after Rigby's appearance in the
Olympics. Rigby made many ads for the company. Actually, tampons were made for this. SEE MORE RIGBY and other Stayfree ads.


From the 5 May 1972 Life magazine, the year of the Munich Olympics,
where she finished 10th in the balance beam - a disappointment.


First pages of an article about Rigby by Anita Verschoth in Sports Illustrated magazine, 21 August 1972, where she appeared nude.

By the way, an e-mailer sent me the following message in December 1998:

Just an aside from someone familiar with Ms. Rigby: Without putting too fine a point on it, one might ask, where were mom and dad during the shooting of nude photos of a teenage daughter? ($$)

[Another aside about other women in this Famous People series: Lee Miller's father took nude photos of her when she was a teenager, some of which appear in biographies of her. And both Carol Lynley and Susan Dey, as adults, posed nude for Playboy magazine and appeared nude in a film, respectively.]

The pressures for her to do this were at once enormous and beyond humiliating. Hardly "daring and willing to take risks," [my words, above] she was a kid seemingly without choice. Imagine your daughter sitting around nude while the photographer's crew ogled and set up the next shot with these poses. She was the object. Abuse was not a word yet in vogue.

She has come through this and the eating disorders and a good many other difficult things in flying colors, and is, indeed, a delightful and gracious human being to know and talk to.

She deserves all she can get.

But a writer in September 2004 pointed out that she was an adult when the photos were taken.

In 2002 an e-mailer replied to the first writer: 

[I] got curious about Rigby after seeing her on TV last night, and found your site today.

Regarding the December 1998 e-mail on your Rigby page, in which the writer states:

"Imagine your daughter sitting around nude while the photographer's crew ogled and set up the next shot with these poses. She was the object. Abuse was not a word yet in vogue."

This is a person with a political agenda and unresolved personal issues. This is also an ignorant person.

As a professional photographer for over 25 years, I have shot every subject from professional sports to major music festivals. I have also shot nudes. Based on a quarter century in the industry, I can virtually guarantee you there was no "ogling" going on during the Cathy Rigby shoot by Sports Illustrated.

As I have explained many times to wannabe swimsuit photographers, and others who think it's great fun to shoot nude models, it's work! In fact, it's sometimes exceedingly difficult work. Photography on this level is a profession, not a party. You can't screw up, or around, on this job any more than you can on any other. And simply put, if you're "ogling" the models, you are not professional; if you are caught doing anything untoward, you will likely never work in the business again.

To my knowledge, Sports Illustrated has always been a thoroughly professional organization. I find it ludicrous that an anonymous letter writer, who claims to be "someone familiar with Ms. Rigby," would insinuate that an SI photo shoot of a star athlete is little more than a porn session. However "familiar" he/she may be with Ms. Rigby, she is completely ignorant of professional photography.

Jef Jaisun


Seattle - New Orleans

"Shooting the world's best musicians since before Disco"


Above, we see a Gymnastics Sportscaster from 1977. Rigby's biography appears on the back. 

Rigby has played Peter Pan in theaters for years. This poster, above, is for a Broadway theater, 1989.

(MORE Rigby ads)
NEXT famous woman
Lee Miller - Susan Dey - Carol Lynley - Mary Lou Retton - Cybill Shepherd - Cheryl Tiegs & Ali McGraw - Brenda Vaccaro

© 2007 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or
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