Ad for Tampax
tampons (March 1939, U.S.A.)
In 1939 American women were
generally reluctant to use commercial
tampons, invented in America, which
had been on the American market since
at least the early 1930s (see some
The Catholic Church, many doctors and
other authority figures opposed their
use. Fear of loss of virginity was a
big concern as well as the effects of
putting something into the vagina, and
the very act of of doing so
discouraged many potential users.
Tampax helped sell more tampons by
adding an insertion
device that allowed women to use
them without sticking their fingers
into their vaginas (earlier tampons -
example - were similar to present-day
tampons, having no applicator).
One of the reports that speeded
tampon use among women was the Dickinson report,
from a doctor, which stressed tampons'
advantages and the deficits of pads.
This ad emphasizes
movement - the woman is in a
car - and is typical of tampon ads in
its stressing of freedom.
Women no longer needed pins to hold a
pad in place, a belt (which adhesive
pads later almost eliminated) and
reduced the possibility of odor. (Read
report to see what women had to
contend with in the 1920s and before.)
A nurse appears next to the mention
of the American Medical Association (a
nurse may have seemed more accessible
to women) reinforcing the tampon's medical connection;
doctors have used tampons to deliver
medicine into bodily openings for
centuries and to soak up secretions,
so they were really nothing new. And
women have probably used them for
millennia to absorb menstrual blood.
hieroglyphics about tampons used
But the AMA objected to the
implication that it endorsed Tampax,
and Tampax later stopped putting that
text on its products.
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