Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Attention, U by Kotex: We have a message for you

April 20th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling

Guest Post by Chella Quint, Adventures in Menstruating


Okay, Kotex? Here’s the deal: We’re only gonna stop feeling the shame when we take ownership of our periods. And we’re taking it back from you, dude. So you can’t reclaim our periods for us. You’re some of the people we’re reclaiming them from. Got it?

4 responses to “Attention, U by Kotex: We have a message for you”

  1. nakedthoughts says:

    and is it just the applicator that is colored, or is the tampon died? cause that is gross. yeah dye in my vagina. eeeewwwwwww.

  2. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    It’s just the applicator that is bright neon, NakedThoughts. The actual tampon is white. No word on what kind of bleaching process is used to attain that pristine whiteness, or on the environmental implications of all that brightly colored plastic in the applicators and individual wrappers.

  3. I work as a cashier at Target and have seen a lot of women come through with the U brand in the last few weeks – swapping out their usual purchase for the latest ‘craze’ in period products. It is interesting to see how re-branding can work on products that are otherwise treated with disinterest or disdain. Women who don’t like talking about periods and think they’re yucky still want to buy neon coloured tampons in bright boxes. I don’t see them waving these about and showing their friends. So that’s intriguing – that it’s important a privately used product is neon and fashionable. But by buying them they are drawing attention to the fact that women have periods. Even if they’re doing that through products created to hide periods away. It’s a bit of a puzzle. I am planning this week on trying to engage a few customers in conversation and find out why they are buying them, and maybe even what their partners think of them.

    A couple of weeks back Target had a deal where you got a free gift card when buying two big boxes of tampons. A few times women were unsure why there were getting this card and asked me. I replied, ‘Because of the tampons’ in a normal voice, maybe a little louder, and was met with much nervous laughter and concerned looks towards children.

    It’s really rather good social research, working as a cashier.

  4. Black/neon is one of my favorite color combinations, going all the way back to childhood, and a particular instance, when I didn’t want to do the dishes – I sighed – got tossed out the back door, then had the dirty dishwater thrown at me, and just for good measure, a few more dishpans full of cold water…I happened to have on a black jumper printed with giant neon butterflies – my favorite jumper! – I loved that jumper! – and so in the midst of all the craziness and wet and getting beat up – I kept getting flashes of cobalt blue! hot pink! lime green! fuschia! against a black background.

    It’s of interest of (to me at least) then when I drew up a version of the Broken Tampon Memorial Fountain, I used that same color combo…

    And then glow sticks used at raves/concerts come in the same neon colors. Black/neon symbolic of intensity, ecstasy, “midnight rainbow,” etc…”For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” Ntozake Shange…the only saving grace in the midst of violence…

    Anyway, I mention the utterly humiliating childhood incident in the context of menstrual shame, because – I don’t think there is some monolithic shame all women feel throughout their lives…around menstruation…I know when I sat on a piece of red gum in high schools, girls kept coming up to me, cupping their hand around my ear, to let me know I needed to go home and change, and I felt, why? It’s just a piece of gum, who cares? But then I had a hard time keep track of my period, which is to say, I didn’t keep track of it at all, so when I unexpectedly got my period in class, I WAS embarrassed (isn’t embarrassment different than shame, though?) – but part of it was – if my menstrual blood soaks through, it’s symbolic of, or exposing, my lack of a…functioning? Helpful? Kind? mother…the ways in which a mother can be a “daughter destroyer,” – so what am I ashamed of? The physical blood (red, another of my favorite colors!) or things being so wrong between my mother and me, “and now everyone will know.”

    Just wonder how girls who are abused (not sexually) by their mothers, “utterly humiliated,” how menstrual “shame” fits into that…if it does…

    Back to Pushkin’s “Bronze Horseman,” reminds me of Hurricane Katrina and 2004 Tsunami…so modern…

Readers should note that statements published in Menstruation Matters are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.