Menovulography / Anna Oravecz / Part II




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Carrying pails, north of Detroit, 1920s

L-toR: Anna Oravec; unidentified




Moving to boomtown Detroit in the early 1920s, the Oravecz family left behind a way of life – and the ‘z’ at the end of their last name.



The now Anna Oravec, with new ‘bobbed’ hairstyle, found herself a job in a pill factory – Parke Davis Pharmaceuticals – with enough time off to spend a day in the country with friends.













Picking blueberries, north of Detroit, 1920s

L-to-R: Anna Oravec; unidentified friend




“...oh Susan, she cried

you’ve stained your new waist.

sweet taste –

and the sweet blue running

out of my mouth all the way to Darmiscotta...”




In the above lines from “Old,” poet Anne Sexton describes the dream of an 80-year-old woman – that of being much younger, and picking blueberries with her sister.


In the photo to the left, it’s hard to get a sense of the “sweet blue” Sexton describes in her poem. Harder still, perhaps, is to understand “sweet blue” as a metaphor for menstruation. What do you think?







Imagine that in the 1920s, “Queen of the Blueberry Festival” was slang for a menstruating woman.


Now imagine that Kotex was bought by another company in 1922, and that this company wanted a new name for its sanitary napkin –finally settling on “Tiara,” a sly reference to “Queen of the Blueberry Festival.” Thus, Kotex’s small white cross was replaced by a small white tiara.


How do you think Anna Oravec would have responded to the ad at right, if it had been for Tiara, instead of  Kotex?




Kotex magazine advertisement, 1922, Graphics only









In the 1920s, Kotex was made of Cellucotton. To the right, a piece of Cellucotton dyed with blueberry juice.


Note that blueberry juice is actually dark purple!


In the above ad, you were asked to imagine that the advertised product was Tiara. Now imagine that Tiara boxes are dark purple, not dark blue.


Does dark purple evoke the qualities of  “hygienic,” “sanitary” and “medical,” as effectively as dark blue? Or does it evoke other qualities, when it comes to menstruation?




Cellucotton absorbent wadding

Dyed with blueberry juice, 2004








Anna as “Stick-Up Woman” with friends, early 1920s



Here’s Anna with her friends  again – she’s the one pretending to be a stick-up man, her left arm outstretched.


Look back at the Kotex ad. It looks a lot like Anna Oravec’s dressing table, at least in the 1960s, when I was her granddaughter visiting.


Look at the “queenly” figurine to the left in the Kotex ad. Think of Anna coming home and tossing the cap onto it, as a memento of her day in the country.  What would you have kept as a memento – the cap, the bandana or the gun?









Families from all over the United States and the world were moving to Detroit, at the same time as the Oravecz family from Portage, Pennsylvania. How would the above exhibit have to be rewritten, for a woman belonging to a family of a different ethnicity and/or religion?




Using food coloring, dye pads or tampons various colors. Then create a brand name and an advertising campaign for the dyed pad and/or tampon whose color(s) you liked the best. Brainstorm a little, as to what qualities of menstruation your chosen color evokes.



Mission Statement / Critique of the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health:
Why do we need another museum of this kind?



Art, Poetry, Film and Music

of the Menovulatory Lifetime

From Protection to Expression: The Future of Menstrual Advertising

Menstrual Monday

Broken Tampon Memorial Fountain


Menovulography:  the years from puberty to menopause, told as a story with pictures


Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock



Menstrual Synchrony, Suppression and Globalization

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