Friday, April 18, 2014

Mixed Message Mesmer

This collection of vintage beauty ads is a morbidly interesting study in the many messages women get about their bodies - you're too thin! - you're too fat! - your hands are not lily-white!  No matter the delivery, "You are nothing but the object of someone else's gaze" is the point.

It's all meant in depthless, breathless fun, but the fact is, the archaeological/anthropological breadth in this collection is fascinating from a scientific standpoint, creating an incredibly clear gauge for anyone interested in analyzing the fashion for curves versus uber-thin, boyish bodies (WEAR OUR AMAZING RUBBER GARMENTS SO YOU TOO CAN BE BOSOM-FREE ... "medicated" no less, some of these ...).  I actually had an aunt who took the weight-gain tablets in the fifties.  And even in the 80s I knew a girl who intentionally took up smoking to lose weight, per the now-outrageous come-ons in the Lucky advertisement (though she used Marlboros - it was something of a rule, given we literally lived in Marlboro country ... on a side note - there was a smoking area at my high school; for the *students*).

Possibly the creepiest of a thoroughly creepy lot is the "Chubbettes" ad, which appears to be shilling girdle control garments to a grade school girl, so she can look "yummy" ...

"The heartbreak of dishpan hands" was a real, actual thing, kids.  I remember seeing stuff like that when I was a kid, and the line spawned lots of jokes - though none of those was particularly enlightened.

But the easy winner for offensive sexism is "I suffered from menstrual cramps" (image 25 of 26) - with the picture of the sneering (middle-aged) MAN bitching about how awful it is for husbands whose wives' tribulations apparently turn them into creased-foreheaded, over-the-shoulder-griping grossly wrinkle-necked whinge machines with more opinions than they could possibly have been worth enduring even in the 1950s.  What.  A.  Prize.  Schmuck.

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