Mad for Vintage Ads: Health and Beauty

We have a guilty pleasure–we read old craft books and magazines for amusement rather than finding that perfect craft project.  Reading old publications does give us a better understanding of life back in the day.  We like to understand what was going on before we mock it–although that’s not a hard and fast rule.  An unexpected bonus of reading old periodicals are the advertisements.  Ads are pretty good indicators of what was on the minds of the masses.

We stumbled upon a pile of vintage The Workbasket magazines a while ago.  There were so many amusing ads that we decided we needed to do a couple of posts detailing them.

Let’s begin with a mostly harmless ad:

Who needs curlers with this shampoo April 1957What a nice idea–shampoo your hair and it curls itself!  Well, not exactly, if you read the fine print.  The shampoo contains “spray set lotion” so after you set (curl) your hair the shampoo helps the curl stay in.  Hmm, I might be asking for my dollar back.

This next series of ads are aimed at women who want to be the best wives:

Stepford Wives of the World Unite

mothers (doesn’t she look a little mature to be his mom?):

I don't think caffeine is your only problem grandma

and women:

Living the decaffeinated dreamThey could be it all with the help of Postum–yes Postum!  If your husband is cranky, the kids are driving you crazy, or you aren’t the woman you dreamed of being when you were 16, the reason is being “over-coffeed”.  Caffeinated women find:  “… too many times when the voice that you meant always to be soft and warm climbs up to a shrill, hysterical pitch–when overwrought nerves make you answer sharply, or burst into unwilling tears.”  Poor little dears just can’t take all that nasty caffeine.  “Your doctor would be the first to tell you that, for some women, one of the worst offenders against the delicate nervous system is the caffein [the ads’ spelling, not mine] in coffee or tea.”  Yeesh, just reading this ad made me want to wear a dress, heels, and pearls to do my housework!

I loved this outfit, and seriously doubt whether this model has even one varicose vein:

Betty Hutton eat your heart outThe ad cleverly shows us the outer part of her fabulous leg where it would be unusual to have varicose veins.  It would be worth it to have varicose veins if my legs looked like that.

This is a recurrent theme throughout recorded time–women concerned about their weight:

Paging all you fat girls out there  The title of the ad is a little harsh.  Politicallycorrectspeak has sensitized us to the phrase “fat girls”; “fat” is direct and descriptive, but please don’t call us “girls”.  Now if I only had faith in the effectiveness of their diet plans.  If they worked, I could really use about eight of these diets, but would probably start off with Weak Will Power Diet with a chaser of Sweet Cravers Diet.

By today’s standards, neither  of these ladies come close to needing a Lane Bryant catalog:

Stout isn't just for ales        Stout isn't just for ales2

As far as I’m concerned, I would rather be called fat than stout; what am I, a little teapot?

The page on the upper right also has an ad for an “All-in-one” which is the forerunner of our modern Spanx.  The model in the ad looks way too happy in her body girdle; my experience with such garments had me looking like one of those squeeze toys with pop-out eyes!  Slip it on and zip it up with the help of two strong men and a pair of pliers.

I love these ads for body shapers:

Save your back while you slim your booty       Hope you aren't planning on breathing

It’s all wonderful until you try to take a breath!  The gentleman in the leftmost ad must be a doctor, he’s wearing a white coat.  I love the fact that the Magic-Mold has a ruffle to offset its clinical appearance.  The Slim-Eze on the right has “free-stride gussets” and is “ventilated to keep you cool and dainty” while it gives you a reduction of 4 inches and 2 sizes!  I’m wondering where those inches and sizes go?  Most likely out the top of your Slim-Eze; my cleavage would probably be up around my ears.

Finally, if you can’t stomach a straitjacket, er body shaper, you could always go this route:

Massage your way to beauty and fitnessBy just sitting or lying on the pillow, you can spot reduce, relax muscular aches, and relieve tension?  Just what kind of tension can you relieve by sitting on a massage pillow? Hmm, I may need to invent a time machine just to go back and buy one of these babies.

This final ad made me question the medical knowledge of the 1950’s:

I've lost my faith in the medical knowledge of the 1950'sIsn’t 35 just a little bit too young to worry about the menopause?  Some of the green text is pretty funny; I put red arrows at my favorites.  I would love to ask Madeline Gray what happened to her mother!  It’s the testimonials in the right column that are so worrying:

  • “The best book on the menopause–Dr. Robert N. Rutherford, Chief Obstetrics and
    Gynecology, Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle.”
  • “It saved my sanity–Nurse, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, N.Y.”

I’m troubled by the Chief of the OB/GYN staff who thinks this is the best book on “the menopause”.  What are they teaching from in med school?  As far as the anonymous Mt. Sinai nurse goes, she must have gotten her schooling from one of those “learn nursing in 12 weeks at home” programs (I’m not kidding, see the Mad for Vintage Ads: Money post coming soon).

This book must be fairly lurid because it “cannot be fully described in a public announcement”.  Must be those “shocking facts about hormone treatments”.

Hope you enjoyed the health and beauty ads; stayed tuned for the next installment of vintage ads regarding money.

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4 Responses to Mad for Vintage Ads: Health and Beauty

  1. Terri Gold says:

    The “Large Bust Diet”? Hahahaha.

  2. Connie says:

    I think that if one followed any of these ‘diets’ they worked… a person should order the guide for the ‘Low Bulge Exercises’? After all, if you lost the ‘bulge’, you wouldn’t want some pesky old exercises to add back those bulges. 😉

    And the girdles. Oh… I remember mom wearing one, but only when she went to church. I can’t help but think that her dresses either didn’t fit without the girdle or she wanted the ladies of the church to believe that she was slimmer than she really was?

    • kathydeb says:

      We agree that the titles are the best part of the diets and exercises! I pity your poor Mother sitting for the whole church service wearing a girdle–the price of beauty!

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