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Kotex and Disney: An Unlikely Partnership

August 18, 2010

Disney just never ceases to amaze! This video was accompanied by a booklet from Kotex: Very Personally Yours. You can read it here.

First a little history about Kotex taken from “You’re going to bleed. Period.” Educating girls about menstruation by Jesse Bering (FYI I don’t recommend the rest of the article unless you want to get annoyed for the rest of the day):

It’s a fascinating tale, Blumberg’s careful study of the social evolution about our attitudes toward menstruation, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend you read for yourself. It reads like something of a conspiracy theory involving backroom dealings between the personal hygiene industry, the public education system, the medical establishment and uptight moms. For example, the first disposable “sanitary napkins” appeared after World War I. Sold as Kotex, these were made from a substance called cellucotton, which was the invention of a chemist named Ernest Mahler working at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Mahler originally invented cellucotton as a type of absorbent surgical cotton to be used for injured soldiers in the allied troops. He was probably surprised to learn that some clever young Red Cross nurses found a different application for his invention altogether. Mahler’s employer, Kimberly-Clark, went on to make a handsome bundle with this serendipitous discovery, combining smart marketing with the newly branded “medicalization” of menses. By 1946, their brand of Kotex Products had cleverly joined forces with Walt Disney in producing the first corporate-sponsored educational film on the subject. Called The Story of Menstruation, this animated film has been seen by over 93 million American women. Menstruating the “American way” now meant being educated on the matter by a ten-minute Disney cartoon without any reference to sexuality—rather conveniently, a booklet called Very Personally Yours , complete with a monthly calendar for keeping track of cycles, was circulated to girls by their public school teachers along with the cartoon viewings, a booklet that included generous advertisements for Kotex. Here’s how page 15 read:

Have you ever stopped to consider how your comfort and confidence can depend on your choice of sanitary protection? Maybe you take that protection for granted, like other modern conveniences. But consider the days away-back-when . . . B. K. (Before Kotex). When sanitary napkins were an unknown luxury a woman would have given her eye-teeth for! Before Kotex was invented, imagine the nuisance of home-mades. The disagreeable chore of laundering. Not to mention the health risks, the embarrassing bulges, the chafing—the all-around discomfort of those bulky makeshifts women had to put up with! … Kotex sanitary napkins gave them a freedom they’d never known before. Here was a pad that was really comfortable—really sanitary. And (praise Allah!) convenient to dispose of.

I guess it’s not such an unlikely partnership, Disney has been known to corner several markets. It is after all a marketing genius. If you want to look into a real axis of evil just look at the powerhouse (read backroom deals) that is formed by Disney, McDonald’s and Coke. Not to mention that dear old Walt was an anti-semite. Nevertheless, I have a weakness for Disney. From their old school Holiday specials to Beauty and the Beast. Man, I love that Beast, but seriously though, this is one of the biggest pieces of propaganda (I hate that word, but when the shoe fits…) I’ve come across in a while.

It’s funny to me, because women are now looking for alternative menstrual products like the good old home-mades and items like the Diva cup (love it!) or the Keeper. It has finally dawned on some people that there is more of a health risk associated to wearing bleached cotton so close to or inside your vagina than whatever Disney and Kotex managed to imagine in their boardrooms. Not to mention toxic shock syndrome, which is not an issue with the alternative products I mentioned above.

Watch the video, read the pamphlet. Let me know about your OMG moments down below in the comment section.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2010 10:19 pm

    Whoa! Um, just, whoa. Um. I don’t even know what to say. Just…whoa!

  2. August 18, 2010 10:20 pm

    A sentiment I fully understand.

  3. naturegirl1 permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:13 pm

    Some of these early animations fromthe likes of Disney & others could be surprisingly frank! I remember a piece on cable tv some years ago about how the censors stepped in with the studio that produced Betty Boop, in some of her cartoons her erect nipples showing through her dress fabric were deemed too explicit. And there is in a vault somewhere an episode in which Betty has a very visible “camel toe”!!

  4. August 27, 2010 1:22 pm

    Betty Boop camel toe, huh?

    My only foray into dance was when I was in grade 4 and in a “ballet jazz” class. Or end of the year performance was to a Betty Boop song and we wore black and white polka dot outfits.

    Putting that aside, I was actually surprised that the video had a pretty descent explanation of menstruation, with a little diagram and everything, they did however get a little condescending at the end.

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