HelloFlo's "Camp Gyno" viral video is a breath of honest fresh air in the world of period-related advertising. It's funny, it uses the word "vagina," and it gives young girls a reason to be proud — not ashamed — of their time of the month. Tampon and maxi pad ads have a history of not treating this natural bodily function with a healthy, realistic attitude. Blue liquid, anyone? And things weren't any better back in the '50s and '60s. Whether with a distraction (hey, look, a pretty dress!) or the rhetoric of freedom, advertisers tried to sell a product women have never really been thrilled to buy. This Shark Week, let's look at some vintage tampon and maxi pad ads.
I'm on my period — wheeeeee!
Introducing white fitnesswear . . . the indelible tampon-ad image of the latter half of the 20th century.
"All of you have seen women who seem so vital, so alive, that you'd swear they were the older sisters of their own daughters. The chances are these women seem young because they 'think young' — even about such delicate problems as the proper method of monthly sanitary protection."
Not only is she swimming in white, but she's dreaming about all the other activities she can do.
New Freedom kicks Stayfree to the curb in this creepy '70s ad.
Modess: the silent purchase.
Like Cracker Jacks — you get a prize! Only, it's not a toy. It helps you figure out when you're going to get your period again. Hooray.
For that menacing time of the month: an O.B. ad from the 1950s.
Live your life unhandicapped with Kotex.
I've got a secret . . . I'm on my period!
Fly a kite. Jump off a diving board. Golf. That's what she has to do today.
Don't just be wise, be Tampax wise!
You don't want to be caught unprotected, after all.
It sucks being a girl.
Got any secret longings? This 1940s ad helps you out: "Daydreams are just as important as diplomas! So hang on to yours. Who knows . . . Someday you (yes, you!) may keep a theatre spellbound while you play a great love scene. Or you might be a celebrated writer, fashion designer, or top-flight radio star! Or maybe the altar is your goal. . . . Well — daydreams can come true! But it takes more than wishing to get what you want! For one thing — it takes plenty of self-confidence and poise. On trying days of the month especially . . ."
Good thing '60s hair was big!
Even flappers needed protection in the 1930s.
Why was I born a woman? Kotex explains in this 1940s ad: "Ever get mad at the world . . . at the unfairness of your lot? Ever hear a voice inside you whisper: 'Better not go out . . . you won't have any fun?' And do you ever wonder why some girls always seem to keep smiling, no matter what time of the month it is? If only you could learn their secret! Well, you're not too old to learn! What you need is a lesson on how to grow a crop of confidence! How to be gay! How to be carefree! Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Remember . . . an ounce of confidence is worth a pound of makeup. And to be sure of yourself on 'difficult days,' you need the kind of confidence Kotex sanitary napkins give."
If you can't trust a woman who flipped her way into America's heart to tell you about maxi pads, who can you trust?
Pads and an evening gown? Why the hell not!
More of the day-to-night campaign. If all you do is swim by day and formal party by night.
If life is what you make it, then your period is sheet music and sun.
When I think tampons, I think glamorous fashion.
I'm OK, you're OK. I'm on my period, you are not.
Act like a 10-year-old at camp by day and 25-year-old bridesmaid by late afternoon.