Sunday, October 31, 2010

White bathers

As part of my 'To Do List' before starting the full time job next week was to clear out the study.

The usual stuff - books I read once, enjoyed a lot but am unlikely to find the time to read again (after all, why re-read when there's heaps more out there to discover), old articles, ancient text books (will Love Chunks ever let go of 1985 first year uni textbook 'The Calculus with Analytic Geometry' by Leithold), ancient CD-roms, unwanted gifts and magazines.

The magazines had been collected as a memory-booster for a memoir I was planning (still planning) to write and scanning some of the pictures has been about the only thing I have been able to tick off the To Do List.

Some of them I'd like to share with you, based on themes. Today - as the heading may suggest - is for That Special Time of the Month. Don't run away yet lads - if nothing else, it'll make you realise that accidentally cracking a horn at a public swimming pool when you were fourteen is nothing on having to do with this sort of crap every 28 days.

I've posted this one before, but it bears a second look because it comes from the year I was born - 1968. Yes, a date so far in the past that when I fill in any surveys or information online and those automatic drop-down lists appear, my birth year is not visible until I scroll.... and scroll ..... and scroll ...... dammit my mind has wandered and I got to 1923 ...... and scroll.....

In 1968 the Modess Model wasn't in white bathers but a stiff, white, three-tiered dress with a tiny waist. Let's face it, this chick clearly didn't suffer pre or mid-menstrual bloating although if she did she'd have been able to funnel it down to the invisible area between her knees and thighs. Any questions you asked were just answered with her staring vaguely to her left and answering breathily, "Because." That blue shield of protection was the only answer she ever needed.

How she replaced her blue polythene for protection on three sides whilst wearing white gloves would have been a mighty challenge.

By 1976, whites and pastels had been crushed under the onslaught of unabashed 1970s colour. This room was presumably a homage to the inside of a teenage girl's uterus, despite the fact that the model playing a guitar to her stuffed toy collection was pushing thirty and had possibly shagged at least 50% of Sherbet, Skyhooks and the Little River Band.

In 1979, roller skating was all the rage. I was only eleven then and did not yet have need of Dr Whites, but would have yearned for a pair of her powder-blue skating shoes. All I had were those poxy metal base-and-wheels that screwed onto your own shoes with the plate able to be pulled out to accommodate larger shoes when the need arose.

Even so, the Dr Whites' I saw in my mothers bathroom drawer (sorry, Mum, but I loved to snoop in there and use your Nivea and a smear of ancient pot-o-gloss) would have been clearly visible had she ever had the time or inclination to go skating around and around the double basket ball courts at the Murray Bridge Showgrounds to 'My Sharona' in pale jean shorts.

Indeed, the pads then were no smaller than a single bed mattress and Skater Chick above would have had the very visible tail end of a huge rectangle imprint bulging out her arse.

Skater Chick might have been proud to tell Women's Weekly Readers all over the nation that she chose Dr Whites, but she sure as hell wasn't in need of them the day the photographer arrived.

The early eighties meant that white dresses, red rooms and roller disco were abandoned for beige Hallmark card scenes of mothers, daughters and ..... dogs. I remember this particular ad and also remember thinking, 'Why is the girl wearing ankle freezer jeans? If her Mum cares about her so much and wants to talk about sanitary products, then why hasn't she noticed that she needs to buy her teenage daughter a pair of pants that fit?"

By 1983, the white bathers had finally arrived. Yep, when you're self conscious, miserable, leaking blood yet retaining fluids, NOTHING says 'I've got my period' like a fun-filled frolic in the sea. Where are the zits on her chin? The sand gathered at the crotch of her bikini bottom? Is the strategically placed wave hiding the fact that the string has escaped and is now dangling out-and-proud along the top of her inner thigh like an albino pubic hair?

I particularly love the awkward grammar of 'Designed by a woman gynaecologist for all the tampon protection you need.' A woman gynaecologist? Shouldn't that have been female? And 'tampon protection?' Do they mean that the tampon is the item that needs to be protected at all costs and it is the swimming chick's vagina that's the only safe place to do it?

So many questions but here's one for the fellas. Did we really, truly, need to see THIS:


River said...

I remember those mattress wearing days, when all clothing needed deep pockets to carry a spare, because schoolgirls didn't carry handbags into class....
I remember the awful feeling of knowing I had "bled through" and the back of my uniform was now stained for everyone to see. Erk.
Clearly the single mattress size wasn't doing the job, I eventually took to wearing the maternity ones for the first couple of days.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,


And as for Peter Brock - words fail me!!!




P.S. Word Verification: "irplysi" - the inability to speak and think straight when reading a post about women's issues.

Lidian said...

Those ads are so wonderfully unrealistic - just what you'd expect from that era, which I love and find endlessly amusing.

Reality = old sweatpants, old T shirt and a grouchy grimace ;)

Deep Kick Girl said...

A) Good luck with starting the new job this week. Can't wait to hear about the new characters and adventures (hopefully happier times than at the last job).

B) I was having to wear those mattresses at the age of 11. Not fun!

C) If nothing else "women's problems" got us out of a lot of sport (which got in the way of our gossiping) during high school.

D) I remember a famous incident at our school when a plump teacher, wearing very tight white pants had a little (lot of) leakage and at the time we thought it was hilarious - but as an adult I realised how mortifying it must have been for her. Poor woman.

E) There's a lot to be said for hysterectomies. If they could find another way to have babies I would recommend it for anyone over the age of 13. I didn't need my girly bits for baby making so I certainly didn't have any sentimental attachment to them.

Achelois said...

Just popped by via recommendation from River's blog. This post had me laughing aloud. Born in 1964, so many of these adverts were familiar. I worked bizarrely as a temping job many years ago in The Tampax factory in the 'designers' studio. Converting the designs in a very old fashioned way to send templates over to the USA. Rest assured that in that place, all of them were men, all were sexist piggies who had no understanding whatsoever of the needs, wants etc. of a menstruating woman. It was a truly memorable temping job. The only upside was free tampons, boxes and boxes of them. Imagine walking into the pub armed with boxes of those for my friends.

Sorry for long comment. I just couldn't help but tell the tale.

I was tiny when I started menstruating at 11! My mother could not even tell my father why I was walking as though I had a bath towel between my legs. After that she handed me a box of tampons no explanation. Imagine a child of 11 trying to work that out on her own.

Great post.

franzy said...

I'm pretty sure that the girl in the uterus room is Sapphire.

Kath Lockett said...

River, the same happened to me in year nine, during our longed-for end-of-year class excursion to Adelaide to see ET, have some McDonald's (wasn't in my home town then), a bit of shopping and lingering around Rundle Mall. I felt it happening and waited until every kid had got off the bus except for my friend, Philippa. Yep, leaked all through my brand new, specially bought (and paid for with my own babysitting money) fawn coloured bluegrass jeans. She lent me her jacket to wrap around my waist and I went straight into Myer and spend my days' spending money on a summer dress.

Love the word, Plasman!

Lidian, I'd love to see an advertisement that featured the real person in a real situation....

Deep Kick - eleven? That's harsh and yep, I do wonder now, at 42, just why my girlie plumbing needs to continue its unwanted and useless monthly clean out....

Oh Achelois what a temp job! And what a struggle it must have been to work out how to use tampons on your lonesome!

Franzy, Sapphire when she's THIRTY maybe! And she tends to go for green and green-tinged accessories, so this 1976 Room of Blood would have her running out screaming.

River said...

Deep Kick Girl and Achelois; 11? Me too! My sister was 13 and a half, lucky her.I used to tease her and she'd say to me, wait until you're 13. Well, a week later.....

Lad Litter said...

Places hands over ears and says Lalalalalalala....

There's some kind of convention or regulation that prevents the colour red from appearing in ads covering those products.

So uterus room is like a pre-Production Code naughty.

And I did crack a horn at the Ivanhoe baths when I was about 12. Thank heavens for thick beach towels.

Jan said...

Ah, the lighter side of having periods.

All that marketing stuff had to be written by men or menopausal women with poor memories. Had to be.

Have Myelin? said...

I'm new here via Achelois and thanks for the trip back thru time with commentary...very entertaining!

Kath Lockett said...

River, you too, at eleven. That's way too young - very, very unfair for you all!

Lad Litter, you're correct about the 'no red' in menstrual product advertising - too graphic and, let's face it, far too depressing for those of us faced with the sight every fourth week for several decades..... Thick towels for 'de-horning' or just dive right into the water and hope that the chill factor takes care of the rest.

I think you're right, Jan. Or rich enough to have slaves to scream at and do their washing.

Thanks Have Myelin and welcome!

JK said...

Oh that is hilarious - and so so sad to remember how we needlessly suffered! Born in 1969, I too remember the single bed mattresses, and as a 13 year old wearing two of them at once and trying to hide (good luck!) another 4 in paper bags in my schoolbag. Always the terror of leaking. Running to check your skirt in the loo with your school jumper tied round your waist, after the sensation of a cataract of fluid gushing onto the mattress during class.
I remember all those ads that showed breezy women doing sporty things in tight-fitting bottom-cupping clothes and looking for the pad outline that yes, would absolutely be there if she really had her period at the time!
Do you remember the Tampax applicator ads that showed a young girl doing up her training bra and the slogan something like "no messy fingers"?! Lovely message for young girls about their own bods...
One good thing about living in the US though - I had EXCELLENT roller skates. Full-on sneaker, red and white with red toe-stoppers, worn proudly with my red t-shirt, white denim skirt, red and white polka dot belt and red socks. Too cool for school!

franzy said...

I must admit that I did comment BEFORE I bothered to zoom in on the picture ...

Kath Lockett said...

JK, if you had those excellent roller skates (and outfit) I'd have been far too jealous to even *think* about looking for any pad lines on you!

Franzy, that's understandable. It's the kind of picture that one's retinas don't want to linger on for too long.