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.
Because let’s face it, if you haven’t been proposed to yet it’s probably because you are too sweaty.
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.
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?
Or your hair?
Or your eyes?
Or your skin?
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.
You should definitely start worrying about what you will feed the baby before it’s born.
You can worry about wind and nappy rash later.
(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.
Avoid creasing at all costs. We all know how embarrassing that could be.
The 1965 edition of Pins and Needles contained many craft adverts, but also a good selection of others.
In the 1960s we are still worrying about being fat.
And our children’s health.
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.
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.
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.
Blemishes on our skin.
Our shampoo has become so important that we’re willing to hide it from customs officers.
We can buy magic bras now.
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.
There’s probably poison in your drinking water.
Does your “personal membrane” itch? We can fix that.
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.
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.
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.