Taming the shame: Policing excretions and body fluids in advertisements for hygiene products

Amit Kama, Sigal Barak-Brandes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite recent burgeoning interest in the body as a culturally constructed project, little research attention is paid to bodily excretions (sweat, urine, faeces, menstrual blood, saliva, mucus, skin oil) and their social implications. The present study addresses this lacuna. Since advertising for hygiene products reflects prevailing ideas regarding the body and the regulation of its excretions, this research focused on two questions: what messages are conveyed by advertisements for products that regulate excretions, and how is shame constituted? The study analysed 159 adverts published in Israeli newspapers. The results indicate that shame or regulation of the body's orifices and waste do not constitute a frame for promoting hygiene products: cleaning one's body for hygienic purposes is covert, and adverts reflect a hedonistic cult of the self. This apotheosis of the body implies that pampering oneself requires constant investment, including the purchase of products that serve a hygienic purpose only incidentally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-597
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Advertising
  • Israel
  • body
  • excretions
  • hygiene
  • shame


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