Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Advice to Corporate Giants

Note: Original sent to me by a reader, I rewrote it a little bit.

Dear [feminine hygiene product brand name],

I recently noticed that the peel-off strip of my pantiliner had a bunch of “[brand name] Tips for Life” written on it. It was annoying and condescending advice such as;

– Staying active during your period can relieve cramps.
– Avoiding caffeine may help reduce cramps and headaches.
– Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to keep you hydrated and feeling fresh.
– Try [brand name] blah blah blah other products.

Obviously, the person behind this little scheme was someone who has never possessed a functioning pair of ovaries. Go ahead and tell a menstruating woman to her face that drinking six to eight glasses of water will help keep her feeling fresh. Especially when she is experiencing bloating from water retention. Just see what happens and report back.

While you’re at it, if you dump the coffee at work and remove the chocolate from the vending machine, and I guaran-damn-tee that the first responders will be women who just ovulated.

Look, women don’t need or want “Tips for Life” on feminine hygiene products. Younger girls are already hearing “helpful” crap like that from their elderly relatives. Veteran females have already concocted their own recipes for survival, most containing alcohol.

Printing out crap advice while sneaking in ads for the brand THAT WAS ALREADY PURCHASED is just plain annoying, not to mention rude and condescending. Do you think we are stupid? In fact, this is enough to send a girl running off to purchase the other brand names — those that lack your “helpful” advice. If you actually want to do something useful for your customers and foster some [brand name] loyalty at the same time, your boxes of feminine hygiene products should contain free prizes of chocolate and more chocolate, instead of dumbass advice.

Mostly, we’d like to forget that we even need these products. It’s not a fun time, but do not try to cheer us up by adding smiley faces or bunnies or flowery cutesy crap to your products or to the packaging. Package the shit in a plain brown wrapper so we can throw it in our shopping carts discreetly and have it blend in with the wine, beer and chocolate. There is nothing more annoying than having a blinding pink package sitting in your shopping cart announcing your reproductive status to everyone in the damned store.

The ultimate goal of your product should be functional invisibility at every stage, including the point of purchase. We are as consumers, after all, a captive audience.

So take your “Tips for Life” and shove them right up your arse — and try drinking six to eight glasses of water to make you feel fresher while you’re doing it!

Hormonally Yours,



  1. #1 BG
    February 27, 2006

    The one that angers me to this day was the maxi with the slogan emblazoned on it “Kotex Understands”.

    At the time I was ten, TEN years old and trying to deal with the usual mess and hoopla. I remember wanting to yell at the package. “I’m not even in middle school yet! You don’t understand!”


    Brown paper. Yes. That would be fabulous.

  2. #2 GrrlScientist
    February 27, 2006

    actually, those comments were specifically meant for kotex, but i decided to substitute [brand name] for that because well .. you know what a litigious society we live in.

  3. #3 Rexroth's Daughter
    February 27, 2006

    Oh how happily I left those egg drop days behind. Your rant could apply to just about every cutely packaged product on the shelf, but so aptly slams the feminine product industry.

    Please add my note to yours:

    Hello packaging genius, we’re just bleeding here, so could you STFU?

  4. #4 MissPrism
    February 27, 2006

    There’s something to be said for the bright packaging. I remember (eighteen years ago, in the uptight UK) my brand being packaged in a sober blue with little bows on, and the writing printed on a cellophane overwrap so that you didn’t have to pollute your handbag with the shameful word “tampon”. It contributed to the feeling that menstruation was a secret, unmentionable CURSE.

    Of course, to attain true pinko feminazi status, there’s always the Divacup and similar.

  5. #5 biosparite
    February 27, 2006

    ROFLMAO (I hope that’s not a patriarchy-supporting response). First responders indeed. You brightened my Bartleby the Scrivner morning immeasurably.

  6. #6 Catnmus
    February 27, 2006

    One thing that gets my goat is the standard definitions used for the absorption rating on tampons. Regular, Super and Super Plus. As in, if you’re bleeding more than a tiny bit, you are IRregular. Why can’t it be light, medium and heavy? Why is the lowest flow considered “normal”? Makes me feel like the days that I need more absorption, I’m a super-freak. Obviously these words were selected by men. Am I the only one that is bothered by this?

  7. #7 pablo
    February 27, 2006


  8. #8 Paul Riddell
    February 27, 2006

    I’m male, and I still sympathized: my wife (known around the blogosphere as The Czarina) has had the same discussion with me. This is why we stick to DVDs most of the time instead of watching regular television: all she needs is one more condescending, arrogant, idiotic tampon or pad ad, and she understandably goes ballistic for the next hour. I can’t blame her in the slightest: if jock itch powder ads were that condescending, the products would be off the air in an hour, but this is somehow okay.

  9. #9 kermitthefrog
    February 27, 2006

    I hope you actually send this…

  10. #10 Interrobang
    February 27, 2006

    Oh, please send this… I actually feel more uncomfortable buying pads than condoms, and I did the latter today. The female sales clerk told me, “Have a good…day.” (I was with my bf at the time, heh heh. I should have said, “Oh, I will — he’s cute and good in bed!” I’m just not that evil.)

  11. #11 parrotslave
    February 28, 2006

    The one that gets me riled is the ad campaign that tells you to have a “happy period”. I just want to put my foot through the tv screen whenever one of those appears. Clueless idiots.

  12. #12 travelgirl
    February 28, 2006

    you MUST MUST MUST send that. and send it to EVERY one of the bastards, not just kotex…

    [gollum-voice]: yes, my precious, yes…

  13. #13 eam
    February 28, 2006

    I’d be thrilled if they STFU and jsut took the freaking toxic out of tampons… to wit chlorine in my cooch…not happymaking.

  14. #14 GrrlScientist
    March 1, 2006

    such passion! and here, i thought i was the only one …

    and i agree with EAM on the chlorine. why do these items need to be shockingly white??? unbleached paper products are a far better choice, for so many reasons.

  15. #15 Lilith von Fraumench
    March 2, 2006

    Pink packaging for cuteness, white materials for purity. But to hell with that–women need these products to handle a messy bodily function, and there’s nothing to gain by treating it like it’s taboo or trying to find ways to make it non-threatening. The threat isn’t from the tampons or sanitary napkins, it’s from superstitions millennia old.

    And don’t get me started on those diminuitive mini-tools that come in pink and turquoise. Prairie women used to chop wood, folks!

    BTW, this is a rather good blog, and I’m adding you to my blogroll.

  16. #16 Kate
    March 3, 2006

    Dear GrrlScientist:

    I’m sure this is an innocent mistake, but you seem to have forgotten to cite the original author of this letter, Susie Sunshine (The Underpaid Kept Woman), who wrote it back in November 05.

    Here’s the original post so you can give credit to Susie:

    As you have it posted now, your readers seem to be under the impression that you are the author. Just thought I’d help you out with the link so you could clear this up! 🙂

  17. #17 cfrost
    March 4, 2006

    LOL! I can attest to several advantages of being male: 1-One can open almost all jars. 2-Just because you’re male people usually take whatever nonsense you utter seriously. 3-Don’t bleed.

    I’d love to get a transcript of the staff meeting where they came up with this shit. I’ve often thought that advertising in the West, and in the USA in particular, is our equivalent of the ubiquitous loudspeakers blaring idiotic propaganda 24/7 in North Korea. I’m trying to imagine what inspirational slogans the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would put in pantyliners.

    This might be used for all kinds of things. Churches could hand out pantliners with biblical verses advocating chastity or whatever. One might find pantyliners in the women’s restroom at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles with driving safety tips. In restaurants women would be reminded to wash their hands. Political parties could print an image of their candidate… Bush for your bush! Er, well, let’s not go any further.

  18. #18 Susie Sunshine
    March 4, 2006

    Can I tweak a few words on your dissertation and attach my name to it? That would be hella cool.

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