Sex Roles

, Volume 68, Issue 1–2, pp 32–40 | Cite as

Distancing Through Objectification? Depictions of Women’s Bodies in Menstrual Product Advertisements

  • Mindy J. ErchullEmail author
Original Article


Terror Management Theory has led to suggestions that humans may distance themselves from menstruation in order to avoid reminders of their own corporeality and mortality, and the objectification of women has received empirical support as one means to do so. A content analysis of 240 menstrual product advertisements published in Seventeen and Cosmopolitan over 12 years was undertaken to look for evidence of objectification. Idealized images of women were common, lending support to the idea that these tactics can be used to provide distance from reminders of our own mortality, but overtly sexualized images were less common. The fact that nearly half of the advertisements did not include images of women may provide even stronger support for this idea. This indicated that a sanitized female body is not just being paired with reminders of menstruation, we are, literally, removing the female body entirely in many instances.


Advertising Menstrual products Content analysis Objectification Sexualization Menstruation Terror Management Theory Mortality salience Creatureliness 



An earlier version of this study was presented as a paper at the biennial meeting of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research in Spokane, WA in June 2009.

This work was supported by a Faculty Advisor Research Grant from Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology.

I would like to thank Gwen Paulson for her work refining the coding scheme and coding advertisements; this project benefitted from her interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Mary WashingtonFredericksburgUSA

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