Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner was born in North Carolina in 1912. Her father, Sidney Nathaniel Davidson, encouraged Mary and her sister to discover things, and both grew up to be inventors.
Mary is known for her invention of the sanitary belt with a “moisture-proof napkin pocket” around 1926. Tampons were considered indecent, so the belt offered an alternative to cloth or a rag (which was often unsanitary and also sounds like a horror frankly). The inconvenience of the cloths or rags often meant that women were confined indoors at their homes during their menstrual cycle. Sanitary belts would enable women to leave home and more easily manage their periods.
Sadly, RACIST ASSHOLES prevented its use for 30 years. The company that was initially interested in the sanitary belt passed on it when they learned that she was an African American woman. BASTARDS. So, for 30 years, women went without a better menstrual product.
She received five patents between 1956 and 1987 for items like a mounted back washer for the shower, a carrier attachment for a walker, and a bathroom tissue holder. She is most well-known for the tissue holder that allowed the loose end of the roll to be accessible at all times.
I wish our bathroom had this…
Unfortunately, there is not much information on Mary, but it is clear that she was a talented woman. She was a professional floral arranger and even had her own business in Washington D.C. Mary passed away in 2006 at age 94.