13 Vintage Cosmo ads highlighting socially created norms
I recently helped my grandmother begin the process of cleaning through her closet to prepare for moving. When I say closet, what I really mean is a walk-in oasis of clothes, shoes, and jewelry spanning some seriously dapper times. Truly the stuff your childhood “let’s play dress-up” fantasies are made of! This experience, however, was as real as they come – sorting through clothes with your grandmother is like sorting through lifetime memories (all while suddenly acquiring a closet full of clothes in the process yourself). I hadn’t found anything other than said gems in my grandmother’s closet until the point where I lifted out an array of perfectly folded shirts (which I always fail to replicate despite my minor dip in the retail sales associate pool in high school – thanks for the deep discount Ralph Lauren, I actually found one of my old Oxfords in said closet on this day). That’s when I spotted this literary classic, no, not a Dickens novel, but it did include a short story of his – Cosmopolitan Magazine circa 1933, totally intact! Beyond the actual content, I knew I had to do a little cultural anthropological digging in order to highlight socially created norms, which still affect us as womyn of 2015.
Come turn the pages of time with me below:
Here we are already getting a colorful glimpse at the connections being drawn between health and weight – targeting mere children no less and luring them with the ever-nutrious entity of…canned soup!
Golly gee 1933, if you could only see how far we’ve come, you might just get a dizzy spell and faint – the future holds black nailpolish with neon glitter, paired with…pants (*gasp*)!
How does one “break into society,” you may ask: why, abandon personal joy for social niceties of course!
Girl, you have the Patriarchy breathing down your back literally citing here that a womyn can’t really know her own emotions -being the frail, confused, little creatures we are! And yes, I’d live my life in fear if dudes were still trying to get us to put Lysol not just on our doorknobs but our vaginas!?
Oh how times have…not changed? Using the male gaze to sell womyn products may seem like old news already, but truly this could just as easily be womyn of today huddled around someone’s smartphone uploading to Instagram!
Fat Phobia already alive and well – this seems like it could have led to some undocumented vintage bath salts craziness.
Jean Harlow gives a makeup tutorial that will really knock those argyle socks right out of those saddle shoes!
They weren’t lying people – and I’m sure if you’re grandparents did make this insane investment, your whole family could pay for all the honeymoons ever with it! (If only I could hop in a Deloran with some serious jiggawatts to get me back there!)
According to the multiple ads for teeth and breath in Cosmo – hygiene shaming was as pervasive as cigarette smoking most likely causing the root problems!
I think I saw more soap ads than I knew possible flipping through this issue – people of 1933 were seemingly convinced of all the beauty secrets one bar could hold! Who knows, maybe it really is still that simple…or maybe mass advertising can target any insecurity they see fit and capitalize off of it!
Womyn, now you can worry all you want – just don’t look that way when you’re husband comes home from work and you serve him a hot meal!
SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID: “Please go get a mint if you plan on necking tonight!”
Whew, what a journey back in time to somehow bring us back full circle to the heterosexism of today, still alive and well. How far do you think we’ve come? Comment below – & by all means if you have any vintage magazines in your possession that you think need a Feminist review, please snap photos and send them my way for future article use: firstname.lastname@example.org
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