2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

So Fresh and So Clean!: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Taboo Negotiation in Menstrual Product Advertisements
Dana L. Kuhnline♦
Dr. Mary Shapiro, Faculty Mentor

This project examines how the linguistic taboos which surround menstruation might affect girls’ negotiation of the experience itself, especially during adolescence, which is often defined in sociocultural research as a period of crisis, where girls struggle to define a space for themselves within society and within their own bodies. I have examined the text and images of advertisements for menstrual products appearing in three years of Seventeen, America’s most popular teen magazine. The most common techniques for negotiating the linguistic taboos involve using humor; a youthful, friendly tone; and specific code words. Overall, these ads appear to refute the assertion made by many researchers that such media implicitly and explicitly makes negative and harmful judgments about menstruation, although several problematic aspects, such as racial representation, raise questions for further research.

Keywords: advertisements, linguistics, sociolinguistics, adolescence, menstruation, magazine, teen girls, taboo

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 20-1
Location: VH 1304
Time: 9:45

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♦ Indicates Truman Graduate Student
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