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September 7, 2021

1950s Lysol Feminine Hygiene Ad: She Was the “Perfect Wife” ... Except for One Neglect

Again with the onslaught of ads for “perfect wifey”. Too bad this lady had everything going for her. She never even nagged or wept! But she was careless about feminine hygiene, and that ruined everything...


In the 1950s, the standards set for wives were largely unattainable. This Lysol advertisement elucidates some of these standards through keywords: “lovely,” “affectionate,” “cheerful,” “efficient,” and “economical” are all used to describe the “perfect wife.”

Yet, despite all of these kindly attributes, lurks the all too real danger of falling just short of the mark of perfection. While the ad here frames this danger with the peril of unsightly feminine hygiene, this was a constant concern for all wives, towards whom this ad is targeted. Indeed, the “one neglect” in this case is feminine hygiene, however, it could be applied to a wide variety of possible home-front failures (from hygiene to cleaning to demeanor).


This ad equally makes it abundantly clear that this “one neglect” is “a fault that may kill a man’s love, even when everything else is perfect,” a fatal failure for the marriage. It plays on the fear of “‘[having] everything,’ except for the love of her husband.” Consequently, the perfection of ones’ wife is not dependent on her gifts or attributes, but determined by the existence and number of her flaws.




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