an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Vintage Friday: Menstruation Necessities from the 1930s

Posted by Rosepixie on December 18, 2009

This is a set of ads from a catalog from 1934 for sanitary pads and belts used by women when they were menstruating.

I thought that this was particularly interesting because you can see exactly how the belts worked.  I’ve heard many discussions wondering what women did while they were having their periods before they had panties to stick pads to and before other options (like tampons and diva cups) were invented, so I thought that this was worth posting.  So the next question, after we know how pads worked, is: what happened if they leaked?  Well, I have an answer to that one too!

These are two different styles of rayon and rubber “bloomers” designed to prevent any leaks from getting on your clothes and embarrassing you!  I think this was a great solution, especially since washing clothes was sometimes much harder back then.  I also thought it was pretty funny how loosely fit the bloomers are, though.  It makes a lot of sense that they would design them this way to appeal to women of the time, but I doubt many modern women would be comfortable wearing panties that fit that way!

So there is the answer to what women did about their periods before modern technology (at least, what they did in 1934 America, I’m sure different solutions existed in different places and different times).


4 Responses to “Vintage Friday: Menstruation Necessities from the 1930s”

  1. Eva said

    It’s a cute ad. A lot of the 20’s and 30’s underwear wasn’t very fitted, but it was coming in from even less fitted styles. 😉

    You might want to take a look at the online Museum of Menstruation:

    I think some of his page on Victorian times is grossly over generalized conjecture, but he has a lot of neat ads and products that show some of the ways women handled menstruation over the years. 🙂

    • Rosepixie said

      I’m aware that most of the underwear in this time period wasn’t very fitted and what came before it. These are some of the only panties in this catalog at all, in fact. For the most part the women’s underwear is slips and corsets and stockings. Only children and men have actual underpants that seem intended for everyday wear.

      • Eva said

        I was mostly thinking about women’s “combination” underwear (and ’90s bloomers), but I wasn’t trying to imply that you were ignorant of their existence. I just thought it was an amusing correlation based on some of the statements in your post.

  2. The rubber pants (on the right in the second ad) look just like the ones babies wore before disposable diapers were common (and I suppose still used by those parents who choose cloth diapers).

    I also find it interesting that first ad promotes the convenience of “extra thick” pads – today, pads are marketed for their thinness (even though some of them look pretty big!).

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