1930s Kotex brochure

Ben sez, "A 1930s pamphlet from the Kotex Company to help mothers teach their daughters about menstruation (aka, the new purification) and the proper use of Kotex brand pads and belts."

Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (Thanks, Ben!)


  1. My grandfather’s last name when he went in the US Army in the late 1930s was “Kotek.” He was teased mercilessly and changed his name to something Anglo as a result. Apparently Kotex was bigger back then than it is now.

  2. Wow, that’s refreshingly straightforward considering how old it is. I remember my fifth grade teachers discussing puberty with our class, and they were frustratingly vague. I had seen ads on tv for pads where they poured blue liquid on them to demonstrate how absorbent they were, but I didn’t really get what their purpose was. I asked how I would know when I got my period, and their answer was just “you’ll know”. This was in the late 80s!

  3. Wow, that was amazing. What is often discussed in shame or hints, was rather straight-forward, and very warmly supportive in many ways.

    However, there was no mention that menstruation has anything to do with reproduction. The mother explained we eliminate after eating and drinking, but where does this blood come from? A woman’s body is purifying, but why? The body only “purifies” if the woman is not pregnant. They cleverly omitted that little detail.

    Re Jackie’s statement she learned less in the late 80s. We have the Religious Right and other Conservatives to thank for that! Heaven help us if “young ladies” actually were informed as to what’s going on in their bodies.

    I bet a lot of women wish their mothers felt as comfortable talking to them as Marjorie’s mother.

    I love 1930’s films, which I catch on Turner Classic Movies. You’d be amazed how “modern” life was depicted, from mid-to-late 1920’s to early 1930’s, until film censorship kicked in July, 1934. But life was quite modern, considering “how long ago it was.”

    Kotex pads and girdles, thank goodness those days are gone! Before those, women used rags. Hence, “on the rag.” But I digress.

    Happy Birthday, Marjorie! Enjoy being a young lady!

  4. Don’t know about other places, but in the U S of A it’s pretty common for the girls to have the menstruation talk at about 10, then the full facts of life at about 11 or 12.

    Why? Not sure, really — but in the middle 70s they just talked about menstruation — without gettng into the reproductive discussion.

  5. We have the Religious Right and other Conservatives to thank for that! Heaven help us if “young ladies” actually were informed as to what’s going on in their bodies.

    I love the logic here. Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  6. Is it just me, or does the cover art seriously imply the older woman (mother?) to be copping a feel. With both hands??

    Perhaps “helping” show how the product is placed?


  7. Blood from inside my body comes outside of my body from an opening between my legs.

    I’ll show you. I’m having my period now.

  8. @4 jackie, that makes me laugh. For me it was the late 70s ads. The magazine ads I saw seemed to all be women rollerskating. I knew the pads attached to underpants. I thought they went around the outsides, as padding for when you wiped out!

  9. Well, it’s better than how I learned about menstruation, which was from reading Carrie. I wonder if there’s a corresponding pamphlet for “Benjamin Brian’s Twelfth Birthday” in which Benjy’s dad explains that there will be a new substance coming out of his body, and gives him a packet of French postcards that he picked up in the Great War.

  10. Feels strange to say it, but thank god for massive corporations motivated by profit. I think a need for new, dedicated customers may be the only reason why straightforward explanations like this are widely available. We sure haven’t gotten over all the sex-negative embarrassment on our own. It’s nice when making money lines up with doing something good :)

  11. There is a certain level of openness and honesty here, but Mother also LIES, I believe, when she tells Marjorie May that “you may find coming from you a slightly blood-stained fluid.” Marjorie May will be surprised!

    There’s also no real explanation of WHY this fluid is suddenly coming from her. Only some vague concept of a “new purification” (sounds like something from a Eugenics pamphlet) and how Kotex can aid in that process.

  12. Presumably there are websites galore — by every pad and tampon maker, and health education groups — that dispense this information now.

    But it’s interesting seeing this pamphlet; it was probably considered frank and progressive in its time. I can imagine the writer cringing and wiping her brow while typing it, and then getting threats from church groups for mentioning the opening.

  13. From the brochure: “you will find coming from you a slightly blood-stained fluid… the first indication that the new purification has started.”

    …okay, creeped out now.

    (And “slightly blood-stained”? That does not jibe with my experience.)

Comments are closed.