I came across this advertisement a few years ago in a Thai newspaper from the 1930s. It shows a woman “administering help” to her child.

The child is unable to defecate, so his mom is inserting a “laxative tablet” into his anus.

Thai

When I first saw this advertisement, what I liked about it was the contrast we can see here between the “traditional” and the “modern.” The woman in the picture is a “modern” Thai woman. She is wearing Western-style clothes, and has a fashionable hair style. She also does not seem to be pleased about the fact that she has to stick her finger into her child’s anus.

Contrast that woman with the woman on the box. This laxative was made by a Chinese company (although I don’t know where the company was based, so it could have been established by ethnic Chinese who were living in Southeast Asia).

On the box we see a “traditional” Chinese woman, and she is matter-of-factly inserting her finger into her child’s anus. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for her.

Again, I originally liked this advertisement for the contrast it seems to show between the “traditional” and the “modern,” but now I’m no longer sure if that is indeed what we see here.

Sing

Because the other day I came across another advertisement for this same product, and again from the 1930s. This time, however, it was in a newspaper from Singapore, which was in Chinese (and therefore being advertised to ethnic Chinese people), and the attitude that it seemed to demonstrate about “administering” this product was not the same as what we see in the Thai-language advertisement for this product.

01

In this advertisement there is a story in comic book style. It starts with a guy who is trying hard to defecate.

02

Unable to do so, he tries to think of what kind of remedy there might be for his problem.

03

He looks down at the newspaper, and there is the answer right there before his eyes – “laxative tablets.”

04

We then see the man a half hour later after he has returned home from having gone to purchase some laxative tablets. He proceeds to insert a tablet into his anus, and then. . .

05

. . . shortly after that, and just as advertised, . . . “kaboom”!!!

06

In fact, the advertisement says that the laxative tablet will do its job in just ten minutes. All you need to do is just to dip it into water to soften it up a bit, insert it into the anus, and then prepare for takeoff.

conclusion

So in observing how “explicit” this advertisement is, and how “matter-of-fact” the woman on the box is, I’m now starting to think that the expression of displeasure on the Thai woman’s face is not necessarily (or simply) because she is “modern,” but perhaps it is because she is Thai (too). . .