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Poor Lois, See How Old She's Growing
January 30, 2006 8:37 AM   Subscribe

“Poor Lois, See How Old She's Growing! Too bad she’s doesn't try to remain the girl her husband fell in love with. The change is so gradual you never see it but your friends do."

Vintage Beauty Adverts at Duke University's Rare Book and Manuscript Collection.
posted by sourbrew (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Cool. Thanks!
posted by brundlefly at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2006


What a great collection. The douche ads are hilarious, but kind of sad at the same time.

There's a book called Pink Think that discusses the feminine ideal as taught by ads like these.
posted by missmerrymack at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2006


I love stuff like this ...thanks !
posted by lobstah at 8:48 AM on January 30, 2006


Holy shit, missmerrymack. That ad is depressing. I'd have guessed it was an Onion-esque spoof were it not for the source.
posted by verb at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2006


"It's downright unpatriotic to be fat."
posted by EarBucket at 8:58 AM on January 30, 2006


Verb: Here's a similar ad from back when Lysol was sold as a douche.
posted by you just lost the game at 8:58 AM on January 30, 2006


"Thus, youth is retained!"
Great stuff, thanks.
posted by brownpau at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2006


Please brundlefly, NSFW next time, okay?
posted by Peter H at 9:13 AM on January 30, 2006


Douche ads aren't that bad. Is not wanting a stanky crotch wrong? Then I don't wanna be right.
posted by jonmc at 9:14 AM on January 30, 2006


Excellent find.
Learning is fun!

(DEW instantly and completely deoderizes sanitary pads)
posted by slimepuppy at 9:26 AM on January 30, 2006


Oh my god, how racist!
posted by slogger at 9:40 AM on January 30, 2006


Uh, jon, douching is really bad for you and has nothing to do with having a stanky crotch. That can be fixed by water. Douches, by killing the good helpful bacteria, can give you stanky crotch by giving you yeast infections, that is, by making room for the bad bacteria to take over. In fact, there was recently a report on the BBC about a study that showed just wasing your vagina with soap increased the chances of contracting HIV among African women.*

A vagina is a very carefully balanced ecosystem and it is self-cleaning. Don't fuck with it by sticking chemicals in there. And encouraging women to do so by giving the impression that the normal vagina smell is "icky" (a big part of douche ads), is pretty fucked up.

*I don't know whether the meant actually washing the vagina or the vulva. They kept saying vagina, but people can be imprecise. I assume they meant vagina specifically, though.
posted by dame at 9:49 AM on January 30, 2006


Go sourbrew, dust your bath on.
posted by kosem at 9:50 AM on January 30, 2006


This is a great find, some great illustration, and '50's glamour photography (Shame some Mefites jump to the puerile feminine hygiene thing, but I'm sure we'll get over it)
posted by marvin at 9:52 AM on January 30, 2006


Oh my god, how racist!
posted by slogger at 9:40 AM PST on January 30


For those wanting a definition which seems to be appropriate in the ad...

My favorite link. And today's dentist think they've invented the idea of cosmetic dentistry.
posted by lsusd2003 at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2006


Dude, marvin, I don't think interest in the feminine hygeine thing is particularly terrible. Part of the reason old ads are interesting is the historical context. And frankly, I wouldn't have said anything except to explain why jon was mistaken. So fuck you for deciding what is the most appropriate thing to discuss. Strangely enough, people differ.

But anyway, nice post.
posted by dame at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2006


Uh, jon, douching is really bad for you and has nothing to do with having a stanky crotch.

I know. I was kidding around. Haven't tou learned to take everything I say with a grain of salt. or in this case, vinegar & water.
posted by jonmc at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2006


Feminine hygeine, puerile? Not when you spend your entire adult life dealing with it on a regular basis. I, for one, am pretty interested in finding out how my sisters dealt with things before our era of modern conveniences, and especially before they could be comfortably talked about on, say, hugely visited internet forums.

Anyway, I've bookmarked this link for use in some of our museum programs. We've got one program where we teach teenage girls to perform as historic roleplayers; they've always been colonial and victorian types in the past, but this year we're expanding to 1919, 1943, and 1955. This is a great resource for helping them to get a sense of what the ideal female image was in those times. Thanks for a cool link.
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on January 30, 2006


Oh noes!
"You see, dear, there's a grave womanly offense that's rarely discussed."
"So that's why Dick has been so cool to me."

posted by the jam at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2006


I don't think a discussion of the feminine hygiene ads is puerile in the least. Or it doesn't have to be, anyway. I actually think it's very important. These ads tell women that their refusal to wash out their vaginas with harmful chemicals (LYSOL, people, think about it!) will lead to social ostracization at best and breaking up their homes at worst. And, they warn, even if the women can't tell that their vaginas smell offensive (because, you know, they don't) everybody else can. In just a few paragraphs these ads lay the blame for most domestic disharmony on the natural state of a woman's anatomy, and say that women should not trust their own judgment about how to care for their own bodies.

Compare these ads to the more subtle ads today for deodorant tampons or pads or feminine hygiene sprays or powders or douches that are still, after all these years, sending the same message to women: Your body parts are unclean, the source of unhappiness for you and those around you, and you cannot be trusted to decide for yourself what is socially acceptable about your own body. And that can be extrapolated to the messages women get about their personal general and reproductive health: Women's perceptions and opinions are not to be trusted - that chest pain is just indigestion and you really do want to have that baby even if you don't realize it just yet.
posted by jennyb at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2006


jennyb: obviously women's health is a real and serious issue. I think marvin's just saying that jokes like mine will inevitably be made, and that they are admittedly puerile.

*puts on dunce cap, sits in corner*
posted by jonmc at 10:32 AM on January 30, 2006


I think marvin's just saying that jokes like mine will inevitably be made

Yep, that's what I got from it too.

*gets out Bedazzler and decorates jonmc's dunce cap*
posted by iconomy at 10:39 AM on January 30, 2006


heh. Oddly, back when I had a blog, I once got a search hit for "Sims Hygeine Objects." I guess they wanted Simpax. or VagiSim. Or even Simmer's Eve. In any case, I was fresh out.
posted by jonmc at 10:42 AM on January 30, 2006


Douching is hilarious (especially with Lysol...), so I would never suggest people not joke about it. I just started some non-puerile conversation on the feminine hygeine ads.
posted by jennyb at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2006


Great post, and thanks for the highlights, everybody.
posted by Gator at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2006


There's an old book by Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, that's filled with these sorts of ads with an essay accompanying each one. One of the creepiest ads was for a halitosis cure-- in frightening letters the advertisment warned "EVEN YOUR BEST FRIENDS WON'T TELL YOU" if you have bad breath. Paranoia sells. We're all a bunch of schizos at heart.
posted by mowglisambo at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2006


Douching is hilarious (especially with Lysol...), so I would never suggest people not joke about it.

It also gave us the term "douchebag," a popular all-purpose insult back in high school, so it's legacy isn't entirely bad.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2006




Simmer's Eve

Hah I laughed out loud.

Cool links, too, by the way. I thought the obsession with youth and staying youthful-looking was something that started late in the 20th century, but apparently not.
posted by iconomy at 10:50 AM on January 30, 2006


Well, ico, the drive towards 'youth,' may be somewhat innate, but like a lot of things the rise of media (and especially advertising) saturation kicked it into cartoonish overdrive.
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on January 30, 2006


I think one of the most impressive things to note from these ads is how the copy strikes up an intelligent dialogue with the reader.
DEW is offered at all drug and department stores in a beautiful, spill-proof dressing table flask. Three sizes: 25 cents, 50 cents, and the large, economy size, $1.00.
And now, we just have ridiculous spinning animated gifs and flashing and 25c buy now!!!111

It makes me kind of sad. I suppose the argument could be made that modern ads target a wider audience, but I wish we as a society aimed just a little higher.

(or, in summary: lol paragraphs lol attention spans)
posted by blacklite at 11:18 AM on January 30, 2006


Gay Gifts for Christmas The World Around in that single thread of Fragrance Gemey 1937
posted by hortense at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2006


A vagina is a very carefully balanced ecosystem

Now that's a derail. Time for triple shifts at the Pun factory.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:36 AM on January 30, 2006


I'm with blacklite. The first thing that struck me about these ads is how text-heavy they are. And very well-written, too, with elegant and unusual sentence structure, etc. Imagine trying to sell anything with four paragraphs of carefully constructed text today.
posted by piers at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2006


Old ads promote Lysol douching?!?!? previously on MeFi.

Just like last time, let's remember that Lysol of the time was a surgical antiseptic, not the household cleaner it is today.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:36 PM on January 30, 2006


That said, though, I love the typography.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:36 PM on January 30, 2006


"It's downright unpatriotic to be fat."
posted by EarBucket at 10:58 AM CST on January 30 [!]

Only if you're a chick.

/joking

I too am very surprised at the frankness douching was discussed with back then. From today's ads, you might not even know what the product does.

I mean, you have an aerosol can, and it says "FPS. The right choice".

It could be anything from deodorant (well it is, but you know what I mean) to hairspray to air freshener (again... well you know).
posted by Ynoxas at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2006


just don't mix it up with the Binaca, whatever you do.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on January 30, 2006


These ads read like Chick tracts, and are just as weirdly addictive.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:35 PM on January 30, 2006


It was a different time back then, anyways...
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:37 PM on January 30, 2006


Most men ask "Is she pretty?" not "Is she clever?"

Wow.

Also, you just lost the game's username is downright evil.
posted by Lush at 4:01 PM on January 30, 2006


For those wanting a definition which seems to be appropriate in the ad [...]
posted by lsusd2003 at 10:01 AM PST on January 30


I think/hope slogger was talking about the text that implies only fair people are beautiful, rather than the presence of the word "niggardly"
posted by pantsrobot at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2006


I think/hope slogger was talking about the text that implies only fair people are beautiful, rather than the presence of the word "niggardly" posted by pantsrobot at 5:28 PM PST on January 30 [!]

I looked at it from that angle but the word 'racist' was used...
Granted, I did not know of the word until this happened; however, it seems they were saying REALLY fair people were jipped by mother nature and tan was in...it WAS different times, though...
posted by lsusd2003 at 8:28 PM on January 30, 2006


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