If you’ve been following our series of articles about vagina shaming and intimate health, you know that there’s a huge market for feminine hygiene products. A market that’s rife with messages of shame, blame, and misinformation.
For a visual display of the messaging we’ve all been taking in for far too long, we tracked advertising back to the early 1900's (where there’s no end to horribly misogynist, laughable ads). Unfortunately, modern day marketing still has a ways to go to catch up with the new era of body positivity.
Editor's Note: We used words like "woman", “feminine” and “vagina” because of their searchability. Our goal is to find common language, but it is not our intent to call out any gender biases. We support you, however you identify.
Here’s 10 of the most ridiculous ads we could find:
1. Lysol “web of indifference” ad from early 1930’s
Where to even start on this one? We know that Lysol douching actually killed some women, and that it was falsely marketed to be a contraceptive and cleanser - both of which were far from true.
But a woman stuck in a cobweb, kept from her husband’s love? Now that’s dramatic. There are tons of old 1900’s Lysol ads like this, with the underlying message that if a man loses interest in his spouse it’s 100% her fault, and that the way to keep him from infidelity is to douche. Just wow.
2. Lux for underthings - “That’s why we can’t get a man for Edith!”
This one is solid gold. We’ve got gossip, drama, and of course the obviously offensive malodorous underwear. Did Edith really think she could get a man when she was wearing odorous underthings? C’mon, Edith, get real. Thank goodness she caught her friends gossiping about her smelly vag.
3. Lysol - The “other you” could wreck your marriage!
Another great one from Lysol. The “other you” - SCARY! We cannot under-stress how important it is to always make sure of feminine daintiness. Don’t worry, this Lysol douche will totally kill “germ-life”. But you might want to use it just to ensure daintiness alone.
4. Lysol - Incompatible often means ignorant of correct feminine hygiene
You thought their marriage ended because they realized they were “incompatible”. Think again. This horrible woman tore her family apart due to her vaginal neglect. What a horrible mother and disgrace of a wife.
5. Lux Kebab Soap - “Women, keep your mimsy clean!”
No one wants to smell like an old kipper, am I right? Don’t tell me you’ve just let those flaps of yours go bad down there. That would be a real shame.
6. She was the perfect wife...except for one neglect
Again with the onslaught of ads for “perfect wifey”. Too bad this lady had everything going for her. She never even nagged or wept! But she didn’t clean her vagina, and that ruined everything. To be clear, though, we’re not sure if she was careless or just ignorant.
7. 1969 Pristeen ad for feminine deodorant
I mean, is anyone not sad while looking at this forlorn woman hiding her bits in a field of dry grasses? At least it’s made clear that she does have pretty little arms, so she’s not totally losing.
Now that you know the trickiest deodorant problem a girl has, you can have "peace of mind about being a girl. An attractive, nice-to-be-with girl".
8. Ad for Stayfree Deodorant Maxi Pads, circa 1981
Big Feminine Hygiene has been called out for the ridiculous consistencies in their marketing campaigns that have gone on for decades. Consider such patterns as the ubiquitous white pants and the infamous blue liquid. Commercials featuring women performing in intense challenges and sports is another classic way to advertise for menstrual products.
This ad really strikes gold with a nice solid cliché, not to mention the idea that if you’re doing gymnastics on your period you’re exposing the whole gym to your big stinky underworld. Of course you need perfume-injected pads! You don’t want to subject the world to your horrifying smells.
9. Summer’s Eve magazine ad that says the first thing you should do before asking for a raise is clean your vagina
Who knew the first step in asking for a raise was to clean your vag? No wonder women are consistently getting paid less than men!
I sure would hate to go ask for a raise with a dirty, stinking yoni radiating out of my pantsuit.
10. Playtex Fresh & Sexy Wipes - “A clean beaver always finds more wood”
P.S. Although these ads are laughable, vagina shaming really isn’t. Read our article on the history of vagina shaming. Take your vaginal health into your own hands, do your research, and don’t let anyone shame you for your body. And, for the love of everything holy, don’t douche with Lysol (don’t douche at all. Try Vasheen instead).
Thank you for sharing!! Wow, I’m just blown away at the depths that some of these actually went! “Incompatible actually means she has poor vaginal hygiene”?!! Like, WTF!!! Or the one about the flaps and kipper…seriously blurted out what the fuck several times!! Thank you for sharing, it shines a bright light for me!