Last year, Poise tried to convince women that occasionally unleashing a little "spritz" doesn't make them decrepit with an amusing commercial in which Whoopi Goldberg portrays famous female incontinence sufferers throughout history. Now the manufacturer Kimberly-Clark is trying a new approach: Making peeing yourself feminine, not funny.
The New York Times reports that Kimberly-Clark is introducing a new pad called Poise Hourglass, which is "the only line of pads designed to fit a woman's curves." Basically, this just means they're more tapered in the middle, but supposedly that makes them fit women's bodies better than standard pads. The company is targeting heavier women in particular, with ads in Weight Watchers magazine. It claims that they're more susceptible to regular pads bunching up, and that's what usually causes leakage.
Most Poise Hourglass buyers will probably be 45 to 55, but Kimberly-Clark says that one in three adult women experience occasional incontinence — or rather, "light bladder leakage." In the sassily-narrated intro video on the Poise website that explains why it's preferable to using a period pad for urine, the problem is referred to "LBL." The company hopes that the hip acronym will make it a trendy ailment for all ages.
Aside from the new fit, Kimberly-Clark is trying the same feature with Poise Hourglass that it recently rolled out for its Kotex brand: Prettier designs. Clearly women are interested in leaking body fluids onto something attractive, so Poise Hourglass has purple paisleys around its edges. Joe Kuester, the senior brand manager at Poise, says the idea is that, "women can feel like this is not an institutional product, that, ‘I can have a feminine care product designed for me that makes me feel feminine.'"
Nancy Muller, executive director of the National Association for Continence, praised the idea, saying:
"It's brilliant in the sense that when women are leaking urine from their bladders they can feel very uncomfortable, very unclean, and they certainly don't feel sexy ... What Kimberly-Clark is trying to achieve here is that you can still feel feminine, you can still feel like a woman and every bit as pretty."
We're still not convinced that wedging something with a cute design into your crotch area can make you feel "pretty" while you're leaking pee, but there are clearly benefits to making the products feel less like diapers. Research shows that many people who have the problem are too embarrassed to buy products for incontinence or even talk about it with their doctors. Obviously Kimberly-Clark's motivation for empowering women who have the condition is to find new customers. But if they manage to destigmatize this common health problem along the way, that could wind up helping a lot of women — even those who aren't particularly interested in prettier pads.