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“Smile – Sister, Smile!” Kotex menstrual pad ad from WWII


“Smile – Sister, Smile!” Kotex menstrual pad ad from WWII


“Smile – Sister, Smile!” Kotex menstrual pad ad Unknown magazine U.S.A., 1940s during World War II

Year after year artist Irving Nurick drew Kotex ads for teenage girls starting in the 1940s. I think they’re terrific. Of course, the cartoon kids were WASP to the core and, um, the kids looked like me, actually. That’s a fool disclosure.

But melancholy drifts through the innocence. Many of the real boys and girls would die far away from home, blown to bits, dead of disease. Others would lead women into today’s world.

Average age at menarche in various cultures

menstruation, girls, start, age, history, period, menarche, secular trend

In Europe and America, and probably in other cultures, the average age at which a girl first menstruates has gradually declined in recent historical times, the possible reasons being better nutrition and health (but see below). The age seems to have leveled off in America at the end of the 20th century, although the first appearance of other signs of sexual maturity, such as breast growth and pubic hair, is still declining, possibly as a result of obesity and estrogen in the environment – for example, from discarded birth control pills.

Please send me good sources for estimates; I want to put well-documented ones for different cultures on this page. I’m putting the contributions I’ve received or found most recently, at top.

See booklets for menarcheal girls and their parents that companies (Kotex, Tampax, etc.) published.


Below: Excerpt from Medical News, June 22, 1901, about the proceedings of the 26th meeting of the American Gynecological Society, May 30 – June 1, 1901.


May 25, 2006: The online edition of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reports that German girls and boys continue the trend of earlier first menstruation and first ejaculation.

Emeritus Professor Norbert Kluge of the Universität Koblenz-Landau wrote in the Internet publication “Beiträge zur Sexualwissenschaft und Sexualpädagogik” that girls in 1992 had their first period on average at 12.2 years old and in 2010 will have it around 10 or 11 years of age.

Researchers noted the trend 140 years ago. In 1860 the average menarche happened at 16.6 years, in 1920 at 14.6, in 1950 at 13.1 and 1980, 12.5 years.

Kluge (by the way, klug means smart in German) attributed the early maturation mostly to obesity caused by fast food. Lack of fat can also stop menstruation, which is what happens with anorexia.

Read the story (in German) – oops, the magazine took the story off its site.

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