February 26, 2006

Have You Seen It? Oh, You've Got to See It! It's Got Wings!

On the subject of Margaret and her incredible disappearing belt, the Powell's Book Blog features this comment by the author of this essay:

At least Judy Blume's classic wasn't updated to reflect the brand consciousness that has taken hold. With names like "Tampax Ultra Glide" and "Always With Wings" you can imagine the increased horror the next generation would have...
Again, I am reaching way back into my creaky memory banks (if banks can be said to creak when you reach into them) and I seem to recall a product from that book called "Little Softies." (Good band name, that.) No idea if that was a real product, or made-up...

UPDATE: The Bookish Girl and her circle of knitters and readers are not amused...

UPDATE II: our Angie (of Dark Blogules) recently tried to leave a comment to this item and was stymied by the spam filter, which denied the comment on the basis of "questionable content." After some trial and error, I discovered the offending character-string: it was the word "archive," which occurred in the link to the "Molly Grows Up" clip. I'm putting it here because until I locate the Blacklisted "archive" entry, even I can't post this word in the comments.

UPDATE III: Eureka. I have found it. Now anyone who wants to use the word "archive" or "archive.org" in a comment can do it without getting filtered. Seriously, knock yourselves out.

Posted by Dr. Frank at February 26, 2006 09:17 PM | TrackBack

I can see a whole industry starting up along these lines. We'll call it "product placement in literature." Jack Daniels could buy space in the reprints of Hemingway novels, Ruger can sponsor Mike Hammer, and R.J. Reynolds can have "The Great Gatsby" all to itself. What a sap we've been not to cash in on this already!!!

Posted by: Don at February 27, 2006 02:05 AM

There was a band called the Softies, it's one of my favourites. It was Rose Melberg of Go Sailor + Jen Sbragia. Always loved the name, too.

Posted by: sara at February 27, 2006 09:32 AM

As a man, I feel quite uncomfortable with the discussion of feminine hygiene products. I don't even go down THAT isle in the supermarket. I find it strange, you're fascination with these things. I guess we all have our quirks, eh?

Posted by: Zaphod at February 27, 2006 02:42 PM

It's not the period stuff per se that fascinates: it's the position of this book as an icon of popular culture and the various passions it evokes. I'd heard about altering the text of literary works before, of course, but never before have I encountered such widespread approval of it as in this case. I'm still trying to get my mind around that.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 27, 2006 03:01 PM

Sara, there was a previous Softies to that, a British punk band c. 1977. Their "Suicide Pilot" 7" is one of my favorite singles of the, uh, period.

I'm not aware of a Little Softies, though.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 27, 2006 03:34 PM

It's true,Frank,I always ran into them when I was looking for Softies CDs on ebay, I've always wondered if they were any good! But what were they called softies for is the real question here...

Posted by: sara at February 27, 2006 03:54 PM

Teen Softies. I re-read the book this weekend.

(There was also mention of the 'Private Lady' brand, but Margaret specifically didn't want those, because a lady from the company was the one who ran the info session at her school and she thought it was "like one big commerical. I made a mental note never to buy Private Lady things when and if I ever needed them.")

Ha. I had forgotten how funny it was.

Posted by: Leila at February 28, 2006 12:53 PM

"As a man, I feel quite uncomfortable with the discussion of feminine hygiene products."

Don't feel bad, Zaphod. Apparently Frank's software does too. I wanted to post something interesting in reply to Leila's comment, but the content filter won't let me! I've tried mangling any potentially naughty words (which were not actually naughty), and it still balks.

It took me forever to type, too, with the book on my lap, and now I'm grumpy.

(Basically, education film producers wouldn't touch the subject, so the product makers commissioned their own films.)

Posted by: Angie Schultz at February 28, 2006 04:13 PM

Sorry about that, Angie.

I doubt it was naughty words that filtered your text out. There are terms that turn up in spam that end up getting added to the blacklist, like, well, I can't type it: the place where people go to gamble, like in Las Vegas. Recently, the word "Texas" was blocked, because of a certain card game that is sometimes called Texas *expletive deleted*.

I try to locate and delete stuff like that from the list, but it's a hunt and peck situation, and sometimes I fail.

So sorry you lost your text. If you want to try again and email it, I'll figure it out and make it work, I promise.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 28, 2006 05:02 PM

Female plumbing is fascinating. Especially all of the little doodads for repairing and preventing leaks.

Walking through the feminine hygiene aisle to get to the toothpaste isn't half as creepy as walking through the Barbie section to get to the video games.

Posted by: Tim at February 28, 2006 10:37 PM


In all seriousness, don't you think that the general approval of the revision comes from the fact that it is "just a young adult novel" and not a real work of art?

Posted by: josh at February 28, 2006 10:44 PM

Ooh, burn!

Posted by: Tim at March 1, 2006 06:27 PM

(Here's Angie's comment (the one that was screened out for "questionable content." See the UPDATE to the main post for an explanation. - Dr. Frank)

"...like one big commerical."

According to Ken Smith's book on old classroom films,
_Mental Hygiene_, no American producer of educational
films would touch the subject:

"...which left the field open to manufacturers of
tampons and sanitary napkins. Kotex was first into
the fray with _The Story of Menstruation_ (1946);
Modess responded with _Molly Grows Up_ (1953) and
_It's Wonderful Being a Girl_ (1960). Booklets
describing each manufacturer's products were
distributed during each film, transforming personal
hygiene education into a sales pitch. Product
placement in the films helped things along as well."

You can find _Molly Grows Up_ at the Prelinger films
archive here:

[see link in UPDATE on main post]

Do a search on "menstruation" (IF YOU DARE!), and you
get three films. Only _Molly_ is mentioned in _Mental
Hygiene_, though. Too bad, since _The Story of
Menstruation_ was apparently an animation done by
Disney. The frames from it in _Mental Hygiene_ are a

Zaphod, I'm not comfortable talking about this stuff
either, despite being a girly. But I like talking
about old classroom films, hence this comment.

Posted by: Angie at March 1, 2006 06:31 PM

Don't look now, but the Forbidden Word of Dooooom is on your front page, right under the search feature.

Thanks, Frank, and thanks for the link to my poor, languishing blog.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at March 1, 2006 11:01 PM