She was the first real-life woman appearing in a commercial for sanitary towels: Elizabeth ‘Lee’ Miller (1907-1977). In the twenties she was a successful model in New York. When photographer Edward Steichen sold a stock image of her to Kotex in 1928, that picture was then used for an advertisement in a magazine.
Miller wasn’t amused – she’d be known as the Kotex Girl for a long time – but there was nothing she could do as she had signed a contract. A lot of Americans were upset: how could a decent woman even consider being linked to sanitary towels in public? Kotex sanitary towels already existed since 1921, but magazines would often refuse advertisements of the product. If they’d agree to them, the ads weren’t very specific.
Later Lee Miller claimed that she was happy to have broken a taboo. End 1928 she left for Paris and became Man Ray’s muse. After that she gained fame as a photographer herself; during the Second World War she was a war correspondent for Vogue.
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