chapter  7
19 Pages

Women under control

Advertising and the business of female health, 1890–1950
WithMarina Frid, Everardo Rocha

This chapter discusses the relationship between advertising representations and the social regulation of women – their bodies, behaviors, intimacy and public life – from a cultural-historical perspective. It examines ads for two brands of women’s medicines, one from the United States and another from Brazil, that circulated between the 1870s and the 1950s. Advertising was an important strategy for disseminating Lydia E. Pinkham's vegetable compound and other late nineteenth-century nostrums in the US market. Analysis of the Lydia E. Pinkham and Regulador Gesteira cases shows the relationship between the scientific discourse on nervousness in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth and growth of women’s medicine market in the United States and Brazil. The external factor that disrupted advertising and generated revenue losses was the rigor of federal government control. Advertising and sales of ‘patent medicines’ constituted one of the threats to medical authority that federal legislation in the United States sought to contain in the early twentieth century.