Hyderabad: An image has been doing the rounds of Instagram with the claim that Mary Beatrice Kenner, "the woman who invented sanitary pads for women", has helped billions of women and children "to get rid of various diseases".
This post is also being circulated on several other social networking sites. Find the links to the posts here:
The claim is false because Mary Beatrice Kenner did not invent sanitary pads. She invented sanitary belts.
Mary Beatrice Kenner was born on 17 May 1912 and died in 2006. She was an African-American inventor most noted for her invention of the sanitary belt.
Mary wasn't even born when sanitary pads were invented in 1888.
We also searched using keywords and came across an article published by Black Past on the invention of the sanitary belt.
According to the article, "Kenner's first patent was in 1957 for the sanitary belt. While she originally invented the sanitary belt in the 1920s, she couldn't afford a patent. Over time she improved her earlier version and other versions that were patented before hers. The sanitary belt aimed to prevent the leakage of menstrual blood on clothing, which was a common problem for women at the time."
We found another article by DiversityInc that said her sanitary belt was "a precursor to the maxi pad".
DiversityInc listed some of her other inventions, "Her most notable inventions include the sanitary belt, a precursor to the maxi pad; a serving tray and soft pocket that attached to a walker; a back washer that attached to a shower wall; and a toilet paper holder that ensured the loose end of the paper was always reachable."
NewsMeter then researched the history of sanitary pads and came across an article by the Quint.
According to the article, before the invention of sanitary pads, women experimented with rags, papyrus soaked in water, period aprons, and yes, the sanitary belt. "The first echoes of sanitary pads could be heard in all of these products. Attempts at commercialising them were also made in 1888 with a product called the Southall pad. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson also developed something called Lister's Towel: Sanitary Towels for Ladies in the 1890s. However, they made their way to India a little later than its western counterparts," the article states.
"The closest prototype to contemporary sanitary pads came in 1921 when Kotex pads entered the US markets. This also became the first commercially available, disposable pad in mainstream, popular history. It owes its origin to the First World War when nurses realised that the super-absorbent bandages with a cotton-acrylic blend used for wounded soldiers, can also help them tackle their menstrual flow. The same material was later introduced as Kotex, named after its 'cotton-texture' or 'cot-tex'," it further explains.
Meanwhile, an article by the Indian Express claims that sanitary napkins were first made for men. "Though most men may shirk away when it comes to the 'period talk', ironically, sanitary napkins were initially made for them. These disposable pads were developed by nurses in France to control the bleeding of the soldiers injured during battle. Made from materials that were easily available on the battlefield like wood pulp bandages, these were very absorbent and cheap enough to throw away later," it claims.
Hence, the claim that Mary Beatrice Kenner invented sanitary pads is false. She invented sanitary belts.