Why are tampon ads so obnoxious?


This advertisement for U by Kotex is not your typical tampon commercial. It challenges the safe and often unrealistic ideas found in ads and it also directly confronts the stigma and stereotypes associated with women’s menstruation. Typically, feminine hygiene ads feature young white women in white clothes just loving their period. They are often depicted dancing, twirling, and taking part in other quite feminine activities. The actress in this commercial however, is calling out these commercials for inaccurately depicting the reality of women’s lives, including their periods. Her frankness points out how obtuse tampon ad campaigns can be – as if buying a certain brand of tampon is allowing the actress to wear white and be active, because without the tampon a woman would be left to sulk on her couch craving chocolate and watching romantic comedies? Thus, she is addressing the misconception that women on their periods are completely incapacitated.

Overall, this commercial is not only tackling many of the (inaccurate) elements commonly found in the marketing campaigns for feminine hygiene products, but also combating the public notion that menstruation is pathological. The issues elicited in this Kotex commercial remind me of Ehrenreich and English’s, The Sexual Politics of Sickness, in which they show how throughout history, issues relating to women’s health were often interpreted by the medical profession as pathological, or attributing a negative connotation to any particularly feminine physical problem. Tampon companies today are taking advantage of this issue – as if tampons are a “cure” to a problem (i.e. periods). Hopefully by making more realistic, satirical commercials like this one, women (and men) will be more aware of the falsities relating to women’s bodies.

Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Deirdre English. Complaints and Disorders; the Sexual Politics of Sickness. Old Westbury, NY: Feminist, 1973. Print.

One thought on “Why are tampon ads so obnoxious?

  1. bamoako

    I completely agree with your analysis. Advertisers constantly portray menstruation either as a glamorous white women showing the power of the product with blue liquid (why I will never know) or as a crying and irritable women eating ice cream on the couch. Beyond that, it seems as if every mention of periods throughout popular media is another jab at PMS, and any show of anger by women is attributed to PMS as well. An ad such as this, which sells the product while also critiquing the practice of using those stereotypes, serves to treat menstruation as what it actually is: a natural part of a woman’s life.


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