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18 Vintage Period Ads That Are Totally Cringe-Worthy

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    “How do I feel about my period? I love it!”

    That's the opening line from Kotex's 2010 "So Obnoxious" ad, which you might remember. The satirical ad features "a believably attractive 18-to-24-year-old female" who's relatable because, "I’m racially ambiguous," she explains. "Market research shows that girls like you love girls like me.”

    The Kotex pads being advertised may not have flown off the shelves, but the commercial itself was a viral success, even prompting a New York Times article. The reason it struck a nerve? It called out the absurdities that have littered period product advertisements since time immemorial. Finally, someone was calling out the cliched myths that were being perpetuated by sexist ads about... 'that time of the month'.

    The 2010 Kotex ad was the start of a welcome sea change in how period products are marketed – one that led us into a new era in which these ads got so real it caused a (silly) controversy.

    To see how far the tampon trailer has come, we rounded up some of the oddest, most offensive and downright absurd vintage period ads of all time. They probably won't make you want to buy tampons, but they'll sure give you good laugh. Peek-a-boo pillow at the ready, things are about to get cringe...



    Read more Rag Week stories on Refinery29 UK:

    Rag Week: Addressing Our Problem With Periods by Gillian Orr
    Menopause - The Truth And The Surprise Ending by Caryn Franklin
    Girls Across The Globe Are Missing School Because Of Their Periods by Torey Van Oot
    How My Period Landed Me In Hospital by Jo Fuertes-Knight
    Saying Goodbye To My Period As A Trans Man by Freddy McConnell
    Me And My Mooncup: A Love Story by Helen Nianias

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    It's the 1940s and Bonnie is "blue." Why? Because of "periodic pain." Well, that's vague, isn't it? Midol wasn't just for cramps and headaches — it also saved women from "jumpy nerves!" Midol's 1940 ads all feature Bonnie, Betty, and Sally — and they always turn out so gay thanks to that little pill. Hurray!

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    Those red roses (a clear euphemism for blood) aren't going to get this gal down. She has a spiffy hat, gloves, and a cool dose of new found "confidence" thanks to Kotex napkins. This ad from the 1950s is important because it highlights a classic marketeer trope: the promise of "confidence". Somehow a working maxi pad doesn't just make you confident in its ability to prevent leaks, it also makes you a more confident woman (despite the waddle). Okay...

  4. Photo: Courtesy of Femicin.

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    Oh, hell no.

    This dude's wife's menstrual cramps were so hard for him! But worry not, his wife now takes Femicin and she "acts like the woman [he] married — every day of the month." 'Cause heaven forbid your wife's emotions ever change. That's strictly forbidden, never mind that she's bleeding for three to eight days. What a nightmare!

  5. Photo: Courtesy of Pursettes.

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    Unmarried girls are worried about using "internal sanitary protection," also known as tampons, because unmarried women are clearly virginal (and period protection clearly changes that). Apparently in the 1950s you needed someone to tell you it's okay to insert something into your own vagina.

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    A promise of a maxi-pad so great that you'll forget it's even there, despite it being a maxi-pad. Not sure how you can forget about a pad that happens to be belted to your waist, but Fems says it's totally possible. The one beacon of hope in this ad? She's not wearing white! Just a form-fitting dress.