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The New U: Art Meets Feminine Hygiene

September 2, 2011

Let me say at the outset that it is not my usual practice to comment upon matters related to feminine hygiene, as I am not feminine, nor particularly hygienic. Nor am I one “Tiffany Trask,” to whom was addressed a rather startling advertising circular I found in my mailbox a few days ago (see photo above). Having full status as “Or Current Resident,” however, curiosity get the better of me. Moreover, I was fully prepared to Take a Stand Against Bland, as the outer panel exhorted, because I’m the guy who puts Tabasco on everything. Little did I suspect what lay in store for me, and I don’t mean the $2.00 coupon.

Here’s what I learned: Great protection now comes with a variety of designs. And, in case you’re thinking along the lines of a .44 Magnum in a fabulous leopard print, the ad copy immediately clarifies: We’re the first line of pads, tampons, and liners that refuses to be dull. And so, like an evolutionary jump straight from the last half hour of 2001: A Space Odyssey, feminine hygiene products have become sentient. And they’re refusing to be dull.

This new line from Kotex is called “U”—a name that instantly and powerfully couples “that time of month” with the symbol for uranium on the Periodic Table of the Elements. And fittingly so, for what, apart from the fuel rod of a nuclear reactor, better suggests limitless energy and radiance than a stick of compressed cotton with a protruding string?

The real power of U—the pantiliner, not the element—is graphically demonstrated by a dramatic “split screen” illustration of the product. One side, labeled “The Way It Was,” depicts a boring pad of old—plain, white, and nondescript as a Mormon milkman. But the other half—“The Way It Is”—shows … something else entirely.

One can scarcely imagine the joy when a cramping, bleeding woman of child-bearing age peels off the backing from the adhesive and is greeted by a Baroque profusion of scrolls, whorls, tendrils, and polka dots in pretty pastel shades, the overall effect combining the sensuous curves of a Stradivarius with the tread of an athletic shoe. The decoration even extends to the tabs on either side, which I believe were called “wings” in the mid-afternoon TV commercials of my adolescence. It is truly a pity that U cannot be worn on the outside, so that all of us might partake in this feast for the eyes. Perhaps “U” ought to be called “We.”

The real showstopper, though, is the snippy, sarcastic headline that seems to encapsulate (without leakage, of course) the entire U philosophy: “Plain white pads have their place. In the history books.” Touché! And while this bold assertion seems to make perfect sense in every possible way, I decided to put it through its paces to see just how well it holds up to scrutiny. History books? I suppose Wikipedia would work just as well for experimental purposes. Judge for yourself:

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. The long-held [view] that the Black Death was an outbreak of plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis had been challenged by a number of scholars from the 1970s, but has been supported by genetical studies published since 2010. Other scholars have opined that “Black Death” is a misnomer, as the pads of the time were plain and white, though of a highly inconvenient eight-inch thickness.

* * * * * *

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693…. Sarah Osborne rarely attended church meetings. She was accused of witchcraft because the puritans believed that Osborne had her own self-interests in mind for she had remarried (to an indentured servant). The citizens of the town of Salem also found it distasteful when she attempted to control her son’s inheritance from her previous marriage, and to use pads that were neither plain nor white, but instead, in the words of one disgusted town elder, ‘garish and extravagantly cover’d with finery and frippery.’

* * * * *

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 passengers on board (36 passengers, 61 crew), there were 35 fatalities as well as one death among the ground crew. Though the aircraft was known for its luxurious appointments, the pads the women used were plain, white, and, unfortunately, highly flammable.

* * * * *

The primary aspect of the Nuremberg Rallies was to strengthen the personality cult of Adolf Hitler, portraying Hitler as Germany’s saviour, chosen by providence. The gathered masses listened to the Führer’s speeches, swore loyalty and marched before him. Representing the Volksgemeinschaft as a whole, the rallies served to demonstrate the might of the German people. The visitors of the rallies by their own free will were subordinate to the discipline and order in which they should be reborn as a new people, a master race, its Aryan complexion reflected in its plain white pads.

* * * * *

Once the ‘smoking gun’ tape was made public on August 5, Nixon’s political support evaporated. Every single Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who had voted against impeachment in committee announced that they would now vote for impeachment once the matter reached the House floor. In the Senate, it was said that Nixon had at most a half dozen votes, while support from plain white pads, normally among Nixon’s most dependable allies, was nonexistent.

* * * * *

Television coverage of citizens demolishing sections of the wall on the evening of 9 November and the new border crossings opened weeks later, led some foreigners to think the Wall was torn down quickly. Technically, the Wall remained guarded for some time after 9 November, though at a decreasing intensity. In the first months, the East German military even tried to repair some of the damages done by the ‘wall peckers,’ using plain white pads that ultimately proved ineffective against the unstoppable flow of humanity.

While some readers may dismiss my commentary as scorn, cynicism, or even mere jealousy, let me emphasize that I haven’t a scornful or cynical bone in my body. In fact, so enthusiastic am I for the prospect of further development in this exciting new arena, I’d like to humbly proffer an idea of my own. Watch for it soon in the feminine hygiene aisle, or your local museum.

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 2:09 pm

    Gosh the blood on the revolutionary War pad would be so cool!

    • September 2, 2011 2:54 pm

      Yes, that’s a detail from “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1851) by Emanuel Leutze. But you gave me an idea for an entirely new line of products: “Cycles of History.”

  2. September 2, 2011 2:39 pm

    This is so funny!

    • September 2, 2011 2:55 pm

      I’m sure my mother would be so proud if she had any idea how her son was spending his free time nowadays.

  3. September 2, 2011 3:41 pm

    I am not going to make a comment on this post because it is obviously written for women and I do not want to raise gender issues that you did not give equal print to important assessories or products that are needed by men at certain times of the month – a fishing p-ole and tackle box. Even though we have not been fishing for 16 years and now live in the desert in Arizona. So I will not make a comment even thought this provides valuable insights into how women think and what they consider important issues re manufacturing in this country. Females will immediately say to themselves upon seeing my avartar picture “Oh, here comes the stupid joke by an inconsiderate and Neanderthal thinking man.” No siree, you are not going to set me up so this is why I am not making a comment on your post today. I am just too smart and don’t need protesters outside my door because the condo association will be all over me and the women on the board will be relentlessness except for the 3 days when they have a headache.

    • September 2, 2011 8:11 pm

      Japecake: Strong enough for a woman … but made by a man.

  4. September 2, 2011 5:10 pm

    The ridiculous hilarity of this post directly parallels the ridiculous inanity of the feminine hygiene industry.

    • September 2, 2011 8:07 pm

      I know. I mean, you never see commercials with a group of giggling young guys sipping wine at a bistro and discussing jock itch. We just spray on some WD-40 and get on with it.

  5. September 2, 2011 6:24 pm

    Finally, the feminine hygiene industry has heard our cries. About damn time.

    Now if they could just do something about the pressing need for douche products in Pomegranate and Balsamic versions…

    • September 2, 2011 8:03 pm

      I personally recommend a baking soda/vinegar combination. Memories of fourth-grade science-fair volcanoes. Fizzy fresh!

      • September 4, 2011 12:16 pm

        Remember that Brady Bunch episode with the exploding douche volcano?

  6. September 2, 2011 7:19 pm

    Laughing so hard I can hardly breathe. I never repost blogs (unless they are my own) on facebook . . . but watch for your statistics to skyrocket because I will not only post this but insist that all 491 of my friends (and friends of friends) read it. You truly just made my day.

    • September 2, 2011 8:01 pm

      Thanks. I’m always curious where Facebook hits come from–there’s no way to trace them to the source, so I appreciate the heads-up. It figures that any newfound notoriety would come from writing about lady stuff. Oy. Next week: “Boob Crafts.”

      • September 3, 2011 9:22 pm

        Wish you could see all the funny comments I am getting on facebook. They love you! . . . . and now they know what the pastor’s wife is REALLY reading. I look forward to the boob craft blog ;).

    • sarah rose permalink
      September 2, 2011 8:02 pm

      you’re right olivia,…hilarious! =)

      • September 2, 2011 8:10 pm

        Thanks, and welcome. If you look through some of my previous posts, I’m sure you’ll find something to offend.

  7. September 2, 2011 7:22 pm

    Does this happen every time you receive a sample in the mail?

  8. September 2, 2011 7:53 pm

    That was pretty hilarious, luckily I don’t have that prob anymore!!

  9. September 2, 2011 9:22 pm

    Y’know a younger me would’ve tried to work in a Picasso’s Blue Period joke but after reading your hilarity Japecake, I’ll leave it to the master…

  10. September 2, 2011 9:33 pm

    It was Midol that helped him get over his blue period.

    • September 3, 2011 8:06 pm

      [golf clap] Well played, ol’ sport, OR SHOULD I SAY…

      [rips off Japey’s hat revealing long beautiful blond locks]

      — MS. TRASK!

      • September 3, 2011 11:07 pm

        The “Farrah” works better on me than on her, anyway.

  11. September 3, 2011 12:09 pm

    I always wondered why there are no masculine hygiene products to protect men’s skivvies from unsightly pee (and other) stains. There’s got to be a market for them. Imagine the possibilities…

    • September 3, 2011 11:05 pm

      Eh. Colored or heavily patterned underwear usually does the trick.

  12. minnesotatransplant permalink
    September 3, 2011 11:51 pm

    I was just thinking the other day … if I’m going to stock up for armageddon, I’d better add tampons to the list (already on the list: bottled water and canned tuna). Crossing off the list: Plain white pads. If the demise of civilization means the end of TV (and junk mail), I’d better find my feminine hygiene lively.

    • September 3, 2011 11:54 pm

      I’m seeing pads printed with crossword puzzles and word searches.

  13. September 4, 2011 12:01 am

    You went there, and I like it!

    • September 5, 2011 2:29 pm

      Unfortunately, when I got there, I didn’t know the secret handshake, and was turned away. So I had to just make the whole thing up.

  14. September 6, 2011 3:43 am

    Fabulous post, Japecake! I love your snippets of history. Why don’t newspapers publish daily pads to help keep women informed?

  15. September 6, 2011 8:44 pm

    I am just wondering when they are going to start making colored toilet paper…it would be so much easier to teach my kids how to make colors like green and orange with their pee than that stupid color wheel thing.

  16. October 28, 2011 8:28 pm

    I always assumed the “U” stood for “University.” It’s not a school I want to go to. Never a free period.

  17. November 11, 2011 9:54 am

    Is this the same company that tried the whole “black pad” thing a few years back? I always thought those seemed kinda satanic.

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