Women Tried Vintage Period Belts & Gave Us Mad Respect For Our Foremothers — VIDEO
Period technology may not be perfect, but when compared to what women went through a mere 40 years ago, it seems we are living the good life. To see just how far our modern-day pads have come, four women tried vintage period belts for BuzzFeed’s bi-weekly webseries Ladylike. And after watching the video, you will feel mad respect for our fore-mothers, 'cause wearing these torture contraptions every month must have been awful.
While getting your period may be part of nature's miracle of reproduction, the everyday reality is a total pain. Everything from the cramps, the mess, to the mood swings makes this monthly visitor an unwelcome guest, but at least today we have options for how to handle it. The cup, self-adhesive pads of varying sizes and materials, tampons, and absorbent reusable panties are all readily available, and give us menstruating ladies a modicum of control.
Before disposable pads hit the scene, women wore heavy rubberized aprons that would hold the absorbent cloth. The belted sanitary napkins rose in popularity after World War I, with Kotex introducing a form of disposable pad that became commercially successful. These pads were held in place with an elastic belt worn around the waist, like a girdle, and was a preferred method of period protection through the early 1980s.
If you feel like sleeping in an overnight pad is like wearing a diaper now, the bulky version from the 1970s were even worse — as one tester said, "I feel like I have a third butt." Enjoy this nostalgic journey, and let the feelings of appreciation for our modern period protection wash over you.
The women of BuzzFeed procured an unopened box of 40-year-old "Modess" brand pads, and a variety of elastic belts to attach them to. Unlike today's pads which adhere to our underwear, these pads would hang from the belt — imagine a loincloth thong, or something similar to a bulky mawashi (the traditional sumo belt). Underwear would be worn over the whole contraption, but that didn't mean it would cooperate and stay in place during any type of physical activity. Why do you think in tampon commercials always feature women jumping over fences and diving into a pool?
The elastic belt is supposed to give the wearer the feel of lingerie, but no matter how lacy the belt's material, all sex appeal vanished when the pad was attached. The belt certainly did not protect against "telltale bulges" — hello three to seven days of long flowy skirts!
After trying the vintage products, the women concluded that they were not only uncomfortable, but difficult to attach, and probably would not protect entirely from leaks (yay pads with wings!). As one lady said, “I don’t like this, but I respect anyone who had to use this.”
Check out the entire video here and prepare to laugh and cry at the same time (Thanks PMS!):
Though our pads may not be perfect today, at least we don't have to wear something that one tester described as "a jock strap with a little tuft at the end." Excuse me, I need to go eat an entire bar of chocolate.