The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Because. Modess.

Luanne wrote about her encounter with delegates to a Comicon event and wondered if she would have more fun if she nurtured her inner Geek and played dress-up more often. She asked, “Are you a geek or are you cool?”

See? Bee bonnet worn backwards, cardboard bee cutout, fake fleur. Courtesy the dollar store.

See? Bee bonnet worn backwards, cardboard bee cutout, fake fleur. Courtesy the dollar store.

In my comment to her, I said that I’m a lukewarm geek. I have to be in the right mood to dress up in costume. Even then, my effort is minimal: a token item or two – a hat and some other prop. Example: for a morale-boosting event at Bell Canada, I dressed as a spaghetti western. I wore a cowboy hat and carried a fistful of pasta. When I walked, I made spur noises, slow and menacing-like. “Ka-CHING. Ka-CHING.”

It annoyed the hell out of my co-workers.

Like Luanne, as a child I loved to play dress-up. The clothing I played with, however, was not from my mother’s closet. I turned up my  nose at Mom’s sensible shoes and her floral skirt and gingham print robe. I was drawn to the costumes from my friend Lisa’s dress-up trunk. Inside were her mother’s cast-offs: clothing every colour of the rainbow, complete with sequins and lace and yards and yards of tulle.

The slender mermaid silhouette with squared bias godet center rear hem, strapless bodice with extravagant iridescent green silk taffeta stole affixed at left, draped across bust to free fall through self knot and down right, a pair of pinch pleats at waistline, emerald green silk faille lining, matching velvet formal gloves, size 4, labeled: Marcel Rochas/Paris/4325. Sold to a New York bidder for $3,300 Do I have exquisite taste, or what?

I ask you: Do I have exquisite taste, or what? The slender mermaid silhouette with squared bias godet center rear hem, strapless bodice with extravagant iridescent green silk taffeta stole affixed at left, draped across bust to free fall through self knot and down right, a pair of pinch pleats at waistline, emerald-green silk faille lining, matching velvet formal gloves, size 4, labeled: Marcel Rochas/Paris/4325.
Sold to a New York bidder for $3,300

Lisa shared most of her play clothes, but she refused to let me wear one particular cocktail dress. It was gorgeous. A shade of emerald-green to make you weep. Every time we played together, I asked to wear the green gown. Lisa was steadfast. Nope, not happening.

My dreams were dashed. What dreams, you ask? Ah. The dreams to dress like a model found on the cover of a Tampax carton.

You see, I was smitten by the mid-century models found in magazine ads and on the packaging of sanitary napkins. Whenever the family went grocery shopping I wandered away to the toiletries aisle. There I stood, transfixed. I stared at the exquisite creatures on the Modess packages until Mom finally dragged me away. It was a good day when she needed to replenish her supply, because I got to carry the box home.

Oh, how desperately I wanted whatever it was those models had. It was something beyond words, but something that the marketing execs from Madison Ave knew only too well. Wearing that green cocktail dress would fulfill that want.

Lisa’s answer never changed. If there were temper tantrums or threats of “breaking up”, I don’t recall. I think I simply grew bored with asking. Besides, I got to wear a cute turquoise number as consolation.

But I’ve never forgotten that emerald dress.

The last time I saw Lisa, she was as glamorous as her mom. I, too, take after my mother – mend and make do. The phrase, “Maggie Wilson as fashion plate” will only ever appear in this very sentence. Unlike my  mom, however, I steer clear of fashion magazines and tune out advertising.

As regards monthly toiletries, if you really want to know the outcome in THAT department, I suggest you read the first several comments on this post.

Who are they kidding? All of those models  wearing WHITE?

“Modess… because.” Who are they kidding, all of those models wearing WHITE? Click for source: a cool fashion site.

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Categories: Personal Growth

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49 replies

  1. All those beautiful gowns make me rue the day I became menopausal . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea Modess had a line of glamour ads for sanitary napkins. How strange but clever. Normally one can’t stroll through that aisle in the store quickly enough. But amidst those lovely gowns one would naturally want to linger. 🙂

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    • This was in the early late 50’s early 60’s Carrie – I wager before your time. Before wings, before slim sized, and before peel and stick. Everything was packaged in cardboard and took up considerable retail real estate. The boxes made for perfect billboards.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ummm – I’m really confused. Is it because I’ve never heard of Modess?

    I never played make-believe dress-up – it just wasn’t something we did. Even Hallowe’en was kind of ‘meh’. I seem to be missing that gene 😉

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    • We rarely miss a connection, you and I. This is one of them, eh Joanne?
      Now, to confess, I cannot claim with 100% certainty that the boxes I stared at were Modess – the brand may have been Kotex or Tampax. But when I was googling for images,I felt a twinge of recognition for the Modess ads. Plus, because their slogan was Modess… because I could not resist a turn of phrase for my title. Because. Literary device.

      Like

  4. I enjoy dressing up and always like holidays where costumes are involved! I enjoyed this post and definitely am a NERD! I was in high school band, went to Girl Scouts and was in Science Club! ha ha! Geek or nerd or ?

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  5. I remember the product, but not those elegant ads. Love your dress up pic. ☺ Van

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  6. Haha! What a fun post! You certainly know how to turn a phrase, Maggie. “Lukewarm geek” is great. Toilet paper ads used to feature stunningly dressed ladies too. Menstruation, using the “facilities,” all so very glamorous! That green dress is to die for. But how does it stay up?? As you can surmise, I’ve never had such a dress.

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  7. ‘Maggie Wilson Fashion Plate’ might be a phrase I’ll never hear again but ‘Modess …Because’ is a phrase I NEVER WANTED to hear again! It’s a good thing I finished my V-8 juice before firing up my WordPress Reader. What’s that new trend in campus about people not using words that might ‘bother’ someone else. You bothered me, Mags 😎😅😓

    I do not remember anything remotely resembling fashion on any napkin ot tampon boxes. Perhaps it was Canadian haute couture 💥

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  8. PS will Dan pretend he missed this post?!?

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  9. I think the most popular product when I was younger was Kotex. They had ‘that’ booklet that my mom gave to me to read so, you know, I’d know everything I needed to know. “Kotex…..Growing Up and Liking It.” Yeah, dressing in all white?! Who are they kidding!

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  10. Maggie, what a delightful, different post. I’m coming back to see if Dan does read it and comment. I don’t remember any fashion plate models on sanitary napkin boxes! Not in the US east coast anyway. As for dress up as a kid, yep, there was a truck full of frills & hats in the attic. But that’s it, no fashion parade down the street. I was in coverall play clothes most of the time. High school was a different story, fancy gowns with layers of crinolines for school dances! What fun memories! Christine

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  11. I was determined to say something, maybe “I got nothin” but you ladies aren’t the first to drag me down that asile. Those pictures are stunning. I don’t know what the connection is, but I can’t get through an evening without seeing ads for wings and things. I think I would prefer those gowns.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan’s here, gals! 😀
      There’s a recent social justice movement to increase awareness of the need for these products for women on welfare, or in shelters, or on the street. It’s important and I support it. But. Even I would rather see the pretty gals than the frank wording and images found on online campaigns these days. I don’t know what that says about me, but there you go.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Okay, so I think I gather that Modess is a brand of sanitary napkin. Now it all makes sense. Sort of.

    Why on earth are they advertising fashion???

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  13. “You see, I was smitten by the mid-century models found in magazine ads and on the packaging of sanitary napkins. Whenever the family went grocery shopping I wandered away to the toiletries aisle. There I stood, transfixed. I stared at the exquisite creatures on the Modess packages until Mom finally dragged me away.”

    Controlling the influences in a child’s life is critical, you never know what they might pick up in the grocery store. That is why we must helicopter into their most intimate moments and structure their every aspiration. My God, think of what might have happened had you fixated on an image in the detergent aisle!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A beautiful green dress. I loved the days when I still sewed. I could have whipped that baby up in no time if I had the material. It probably weighed a ton with all that velvet.

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  15. “The Last Time I Saw Lisa” was a great movie. Oh, that was “The Last Time I Saw Paris” with Elizabeth Taylor, based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, “Babylon Revisited”. But maybe there should be a “The Last Time I Saw Lisa”. It kind of makes me sad thinking the thought.

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  16. Wow. I had no idea how fancy tampon packaging usta be! lol
    That is fascinating.
    I never cared for dress-up. Wore costumes as required, Halloween, plays, dance recitals…I do remember wanting my mother’s enormous high heel clogs tho.

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  17. I don’t remember women being on the packages, either. Perhaps it WAS only in Canada.

    I, too, loved emerald. I owned as a little girl an emerald satin dress with a crinoline underskirt, and, as a teen, a long high-waisted crushed velvet emerald green skirt I wore at Christmas.

    (I own nothing that fancy any longer–no need.)

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  18. I have never and will never aspire to wear such things. Not in my dna. Once or twice I have glammed it up but usually either as a dare or just to shock people. Geeky dress ups on the other hand….

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  19. Modess? I’ve never seen those images before. They are lovely. About as far as you can get from the term “on the rag” and what it conjures. Who coined that anyway? Srsly.

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    • I’m starting to doubt myself – all of my North American blogger pals do not remember the packaging. Of course, that’s only a half dozen who were all likely otherwise engaged at the grocery store or with mums’ toiletries, but…

      Madison Ave had nothing to do with the “on the rag” term, that much I know!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Seriously?!! Those were ads for sanitary products?!! They’re amazing! No wonder you were transfixed by them. Those ads put modern ads to shame, although I’m doubtful of the realism that women feel so glamorous while using their products, lol!

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  21. Had I seen those gowns, I would have fallen in love with them too. Unfortunately, what sticks in my mind from childhood were those inscrutable ‘Summer’s Eve’ commercials. I had absolutely no idea what they were promoting, except that I knew it was something that happened in a field full of flowers somewhere and it would make you terribly happy. Commercial television totally warped my expectations.

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  22. I had to google the video. Yup, I remember these. The product that no doubt introduced the term “douche” into common, everyday usage!

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