Magazine Adverts – Making Women Feel Insecure Since Forever

It is a human instinct to try to prevent bad things from happening. We can predict a potential unpleasant future and do something about it. It is not a new idea that adverts capitalize on this. I took a quick look at some adverts from three women’s magazines from my shop stock. One from 1939, one from 1965 and one from 1988.

The June 1939 edition of Modern Woman was rammed with opportunities to throw money at problems that probably aren’t problems.

Vintage 1930s Modern Woman Magazine cover

Because let’s face it, if you haven’t been proposed to yet it’s probably because you are too sweaty.

Vintage Advert for Odo-Ro-No Deodorant headlined "To the girl who has never had a proposal".

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Kleinert's Dress Shields headlined "10 minutes on a warm day is enough to ruin a frock".

Or hairy.

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Helen Lawrence Hair removal headlined "Can you look your best with a growth of hair? Or Feel your best?".

1930s Vintage Magazine Advert for Venida Parisian Plaques headlined "Simplest way to remove unwanted hair - just a rub - and it's off!"

Or freckly.

Vintage 1930s Magazine advert for Tilson's Double Strength Freckle Cream headlined "End Freckles".

Or fat.

1930s Vintage Magazine Advert for SILF Co Ltd Brand Obesity Tablets headlined "Reduced Bust - 8ins, Reduced Hips - 6 ins, Reduced Waist - 9 ins".

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Fynnon Salt headlined "Slim the healthy Way".

Vintage 1930s Magazine Advert for milk headlined "It's not luck - it's milk".

If you’re not fat yet, don’t worry, this corset will stop that ever happening. You should probably buy it now. Before you get fat.

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Aldrex corstry that says "No matter how perfect your figure may be you still need a perfect fitting corset to retain that figure charm for the years to come".

Once you’re done worrying about your hairy, fat, sweaty, freckly body as a whole you should worry about individual body parts. I mean, can you be sure of your teeth?

Vintage 1930s Magazine Advert for Tek Toothbrushes headlined "Are your teeth worth 3d Each?"

Or your hair?

Vintage 1930s Magazine Advert for Danderine hair product headlined "Sixpence a week - is that a big price to be SURE of you hair?"

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Ladye Jayne Slumber helmet headlined "My Word! I never dreamt a Ladye Jayne Slumber Helmet would guard one's hair like this".


Or your eyes?

Vintage 1930s Magazine advert for Optrex eye lotion headlined "If you do this" (showing a woman squinting at the sun) "You must do this" (showing a woman using an eye bath).

Or your skin?

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Phillips' magnesia texture cream and cleansing cream headlined "A remarkable new treatment for "acid skin"".

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Yeast Pac headlined "Yeast - Pac Brings Beauty Back".

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Potter and Moore's powder-cream headlined "Prepare for holiday loveliness now... Surface beauty is not enough".

Once your skin is perfect, you will not only get a husband but a Hollywood contract too. But you won’t be able to accept it because you’ll be pregnant and your life is perfect. Make sure you wash that baby with the same soap now.

1930s vintage magazine advert for Knight's Castile Soap entitled "Exciting news for Humphrey" featuring illustrations of a glamorous woman turning down a hollywood contract because she is pregnant and promising the baby will always follow after her and be washed with Knight's Castile soap.

You should definitely start worrying about what you will feed the baby before it’s born.

1930s vintage magazine advert for Allenburys Foods headlined "Before baby comes is the time to choose baby's food".

You can worry about wind and nappy rash later.

Vintage 1930s magazine advert for Dinneford's pure fluid magnesia headlined "For baby's delicate stomach always give pure fluid magnesia".

1930s vintage magazine advert for Cuticura talcum powder for baby headlined "Bathing alone only aggravates that hot inflamed skin".

(When I first saw the advert above I thought it was suggesting you should stick another baby in the bath to keep them company.)

And you shouldn’t let your dress sense go. Make sure your breasts are in two defined lumps.

1930s vintage magazine advert for Maiden Form Variation brassieres headlined "Glorifies the natural line-of-separation".

Avoid creasing at all costs. We all know how embarrassing that could be.

1930s vintage magazine advert for Tootal crease-resisting fabrics headlined "I'll never forget that first weekend with Jim's people" featuring a story about a woman who is embarrassed because her clothes are creased when she goes to visit her new sister in law's who tell her all about crease resistant fabrics.

The 1965 edition of Pins and Needles contained many craft adverts, but also a good selection of others.

Cover of Pins and Needles vintage craft 1965 magazine no 154 November

In the 1960s we are still worrying about being fat.

Vintage magazine advert 1960s for Compresso Belt headlined "Now flatten your tummy as much as 4 inches with amazingly different Compresso belt".

Vintage magazine advert 1960s for Slimswift treatment headlined "Slimming astonishing results reported".

Vintage 1960s magazine advert for Wafex slimming wafer headlined "Now from America! So good - so new and differerent it has been granted a U.S. Government patent. Lose ugly fat without dieting hunger. No Biscuits. No garments. No exercise".

And sweaty.

1960s vintage magazine advert for Kleinert's dress shields headlined "No deodorant or anti-perspirant can fully protect your clothes from perspiration damage".

And our children’s health.

Vintage 1965 magazine advert for Virtue and Co Ltd Health in the Home book headlined "For the best of health own Health in the Home. Your children's health and happiness are YOUR responsibility!"

But there is something new that wasn’t around in the 1939 magazine. We’re now supposed to worry that our breasts might not be big enough. But obviously, there’s a product that can fix that.

Vintage 1960s magazine advert for Pro Forma tablets by Lamora Laboratories headlined "Now YOU can have a beautiful bust".

Several, actually.

Vintage 1960s magazine advert for Harley Pills by Harley Laboratories headlined "Dramatic new bust beauty. Important news to those who wish for 39-33-35 figure".

Vintage 1960s magazine advert for Kurvon Tablets by Kurvon Laboratories headlined "Important news to those who wish for a 40-22-35 figure. Those vital statistics where do you fail?"

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that even Marilyn Monroe’s famous hourglass figure was 36-24-34. But we should be aiming to beat that, obviously.

Let’s fast forward to 1988. New Woman.

Vintage magazine cover of New Woman magazine November 1988 with cover stories "When one of you loves the other more (it can work), Maternal instincts Do they really make you a good mother, Platonic friends or Potential Lovers: Which are you?, Why sulking is making a comeback, The other woman speaks out: A frank (guiltless) account, De-tox diet: A fast fix for feeling fit, The day your ex remarries (and how it can tie you up in knots), How Safe are you... at home, at work, on the streets?, Could you run your own business? Try our Be-Your-Own-Boss-Quiz, Jeffrey Archer's Intriguing new tale of love and murder.

That title reminds me of something… Just the cover headlines make me feel insecure. Oh no, I set up a new business but I didn’t take the quiz first!

Some familiar nagging worries return. Our teeth.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Mentadent P Toothpaste headlined "Read this and you could be crunching apples when you're ninety."

Blemishes on our skin.

Vintage 1980s advert for Fade-Out headlined "Age marks needn't be a give-away".

Our shampoo has become so important that we’re willing to hide it from customs officers.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Natural Silk Shampoo headlined "How easily an indulgence becomes a necessity" showing a woman's bag being searched through by a customs official while she hides the shampoo bottle behind her back.

We can buy magic bras now.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Magic Lingerie headlined "Do you believe in magic?"

But there are some new worries we should be having, just to mix it up.

There are germs everywhere. I think Emmett Brown brought them back from the Victorian era.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Vortex Cleaner headlined "The proven longer lasting germ killer".

There’s probably poison in your drinking water.

Vintage 1980s advert for Spong water filters headlined "You need water to cleanse the body, but shouldn't you first cleanse the water?"

Does your “personal membrane” itch? We can fix that.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Lanacane cream headlined "Stop Itching Fast! Even personal membrane itching".

And some new solutions to old worries.

Not married yet? Back in the 1930s we were relying on deodorant to get us hitched. Now “you too can find love” with the help of a computer.

Vintage 1980s magazine advert for Dateline Online dating service headlined "You too can find love".

Previously, if your breasts were too small or not separated enough, you could get a brassiere or lots of tablets to sort that. Now there’s a new option. It only costs £1,350.

Vintage magazine advert 1980s for The surgical advisory service headlined "Cosmetic Surgery: 5 easy steps to an attractive new profile".

While you’re at it you may as well let “him” sort out your nose, ears, face and suck out all your fat.

We’ve come a long way.

2 Comment

  1. Martin Doherty says: Reply

    Excellent material here for a class I’m about to give on the 1930s. Many thanks!

    1. Caroline says: Reply

      Yay! I’m glad it is useful Martin!

Leave a Reply