Fourteen years after Wendi Aarons wrote a humorous letter to Proctor & Gamble about their maxi pads, it was featured at Letters Live in London, an event co-produced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Drawing from the company’s “Have a Happy Period” campaign, Wendi’s playful critique highlights the absurdity of suggesting that maxi pads can make monthly cycles fun, referencing exaggerated activities like salsa dancing and beach runs.
Wendi Aarons, a 55-year-old freelance writer from Texas, wrote a memorable letter to James Thatcher, Proctor & Gamble’s brand manager at the time, humorously commenting on their ‘Always’ maxi pads.
In her letter, she said, “I have been a loyal user of your ‘Always’ maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.”
In her playful yet pointed letter to Thatcher, Wendi Aarons quips, “Ever experienced a menstrual cycle, Mr. Thatcher? I doubt it. As I write this, I can feel my hormones ramping up. Soon, I’ll turn into what my husband playfully describes as ‘an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.’” It’s a humorous nod to the challenges many women face monthly, including cramps, bloating, fatigue, and mood swings. Those familiar with these struggles, whether they experience them firsthand or through living with someone who does, can undoubtedly relate to Wendi’s witty take on the matter.
Wendi Aarons humorously questioned James Thatcher’s understanding of menstruation, asking, “Have you ever had a menstrual cycle, Mr. Thatcher” She vividly described her experiences, mentioning the hormonal changes she feels and jokingly referring to herself as “an inbred hillbilly with knife skills,” a nickname from her husband. For many women, periods come with various challenges such as cramps, bloating, fatigue, and significant mood swings.
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Wendi Aarons, addressing the man responsible for the campaign, pointedly remarked about the challenges women face during their periods. She humorously stated, “You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants…Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’” on an Always maxi-pad. Wendi sarcastically suggested more relevant phrases like “Put down the Hammer” or “Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong.” She concluded her letter declaring she would switch brands, firmly stating she won’t miss their “condescending approach.”
Wendi, who later authored the book “I’m Wearing Tunics Now,” promoting the idea of a menopause party, revealed on the “Today” show that her cheeky letter to Proctor & Gamble in her 20s was her career’s launching point. She said, “The ‘Have a Happy Period’ message on an Always maxi-pad prompted me to voice out in a humorous, satirical manner, and it resonated with many, going viral.” Emphasizing the power of humor, she remarked, “Don’t get mad, get funny.” The letter recently resurfaced, read by Scottish writer and director, Dawn O’Porter, at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the Live Letters series, where it was met with laughter and applause.
The Live Letters event showcases renowned performers reading notable letters. Among its notable presenters is Benedict Cumberbatch, best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes. Wendi’s letter’s recent rendition by a Scottish personality was a hit, prompting global fans to share their reactions.
One fan commented on their initial reaction to the “Have a happy period” message, saying, ‘What idiot thought that was a good idea? And can I rip his intestines out through his mouth and use them for shoelaces?’ Because of course this had to be from a man. Surely no woman was that stupid.” Another online user, frustrated with the ad campaign, remarked, “I’ve spent the last two decades or so watching the adverts and thinking, ‘Who the feck are these aimed at?!’ Horse riding? Tennis? Artistic gymnastics FFS?! …bloody tossers!”
In response to the “Have a Happy Period” tagline, reactions from around the globe vary widely. An Australian woman humorously points out that in her country, menstrual pads feature trivia facts, jesting, “In Australia the protective sticky cover on pads lists multiple trivia facts. Now when a woman comes out of the loo telling you random information you know she’s menstruating.” A man offers a lighthearted take, noting that during his wife’s period, he knows to tread lightly. Wendi Aarons’ wit has truly struck a chord, echoing the sentiment that humor can be a potent tool in addressing contentious issues.
Remembering the first time Wendi’s letter made headlines? Share your thoughts on its lasting impact.