“From forlorn fattie to fashion model” and other 1950s-era sage advice
While looking for an old paper yesterday, I stumbled across some notes I made while researching women’s magazines in the 1950s for articles and advertisements related to women, food and body image. I thought I’d share a few snippets here from the notes I made. Many of these would be hilariously funny if they weren’t the same kinds of things we still see in magazines and the media today.
Ladies Home Journal Jan. 1957
“The Diet That Turned Me into a Model”
As told to Dawn Crowell Norman
“Every time I see a young girl who is overweight, I want to tap her on the shoulder and say, ‘Let me tell you about my own life as a fatty – let me help! …Roy, my husband, would never have looked twice at the old 175-pound Linda… When I am occasionally tempted to eat more than I should, it’s Roy who puts his foot down! ‘Don’t forget,’ he teases, ‘you were once a fatty!’”
Ladies Home Journal May, 1957
“Is College Education Wasted on Women?”
“Psychology and psychiatry have contributed their share to the notion that the best way for a girl to show that she is healthy, wholesome, mature, well-adjusted and the like is to get married and have children.”
Good Housekeeping Aug., 1958
“How to Bring Up Perfect Little Ladies with the help of Wash and Wear”
“Being a lady is a life’s work, and the sooner your daughter begins mastering the tricks of the trade, the better. Once she has discovered the sorcery of a smile and the magic of ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ she’s ready to go on to the next lesson: the gentle art of looking like a million bucks.
Good Housekeeping Aug, 1958
“The Date Line: Facts and Fancies for the Girl in School”
“’Calorie wisors’ are new defense weapons developed by some N. Carolina boys to protect their wallets at drive-in restaurants… the boys attach a mirror to the back of the car’s right-hand sun visor; put next to it a list of calorie values of typical items on the menu – hamburger with ten french fries, 450; banana split, 530; Coke, 75; etc. – and slyly suggest girls check their makeup before ordering!”
In his Husband and Wife Diet Cookbook (1955), Dr. P.W. Punnett suggests one way for women to shed pounds is to simply stop “constantly nibbling candy and nuts and cake and cookies between meals and in addition to their regular meals.” Whereas, he continued, a woman most often gains weight simply because she eats “twice as much as she really needs” – primarily, “foods like pie, cake, ice cream, candy, nuts, mayonnaise, and sweet desserts” – overweight husbands ought not to “be ashamed if the pounds have sneaked up on you.” He attributed men’s weight gain to extra-fatty meats, gravies, alcohol and inactivity due to work-related advancements.