How 'crotch sweat' became the new enemy

Last updated 13:54 12/07/2013

U by Kotex - Don't Sweat It advertisement.

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As a woman there's plenty to be self-conscious about.

At what point do laugh lines turn into wrinkles? How much upper-lip hair actually constitutes a 'mo'? And is there anything in which one's bum doesn't look big?

But these are such trivial matters for the modern woman when compared to the anxiety induced by questions of feminine hygiene.

Tampon ads have tapped into women's insecurities for decades with products that prevent 'leakage'. And a whole industry has spawned from women's fear of being smelly down there.

But the feminine hygiene business hit new lows this week with the introduction of a product where (dare I say it?) blood or unseemly smells are not the enemy, but sweat is.

No. I am not joking.

U by Kotex Sport Liners are designed to stop women experiencing unsightly sweat patches around their crotch while exercising.

For most women I know, their only concern while wearing Lycra is whether they've stretched enough to avoid injury. But of course, with the introduction of these sport liners and the ad - full of unsightly, sweaty crotches - there's another thing for women to be insecure about.

I feel like I'm missing something here. Surely men sweat in their nether regions while exercising. Where are the ads for their pads?

But heaven forbid a lady look like she's actually worked hard at the gym.

It reminds me of this 1974 tampon ad: "Be the you he likes. Good to be around, any day of the month." It's all about what the man might think of us.

Or could this product be just another example of the euphemistic blue liquid? Is the 'sweat' in this scenario something else that, like blood, we aren't allowed to refer to?

It doesn't appear so. According to Kimberly-Clark which owns the U by Kotex brand, it's all about the sweat. The company's research suggests, "89 per cent of girls think sweat is good but 81 per cent think sweat patches are not".

Marketing Manager Kimberly-Clark Feminine Care, Margaret Cheung, says: "We understand that Australian girls like to stay active, however one thing they worry about is experiencing embarrassing sweat patches when exercising."

But why should it be embarrassing? And are that many women actually concerned about such matters?

It's one thing to use the old marketing chestnut, "We're only giving the customer what they want."

But if you tell women they should be embarrassed about something that isn't an issue when it comes to men, what sort of message does that send?

It says we're heading back to the dark ages.

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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