The Surprising Origins of Kotex Pads
What’s in a name? For Kotex, the first-ever brand of sanitary napkins to hit the U.S., everything.
The disposable sanitary napkin was a high-tech invention (inspired, incidentally, by military products) that changed the way women dealt with menstruation. It also helped to create modern perceptions of how menstruation should be managed through its advertising, which was both remarkably explicit for its time but also strictly adhered to emerging stereotypes about the “modern” woman of the 1920s should aspire to. Kotex sanitary napkins paved the way for the wide variety of feminine hygiene products on the market today by finding an answer to the crucial question: How to market a product whose function can’t be openly discussed? “Kotex was such a departure because there just wasn’t a product” previously, says communications scholar Roseann Mandziuk.
I wrote about how Kotex created the market for disposable menstrual products over at Smithsonian.com.