When beauty ideals are involved, a lot of people will do a lot of weird things in order to fit the standards society wants to shove on them. But when you put a couple of decades between you and the semi-crazy act, looking back can be hilarious. When you peak at old fashioned beauty ads, that's exactly what you'll likely experience. Back in the day, ankle corsets might have seemed absolutely necessary in order to not look in the mirror and shudder, or bras that mimicked hard nipples underneath shirts possibly seemed like a good investment of your hard-earned money. Nowadays, these things probably seem like nothing short of bad judgment calls.
But while we can get a good chuckle over these semi-desperate, semi-comical acts of trying to attain beauty, these ads lead to an important question about our own culture: What perplexing things are we doing in order to achieve the limited beauty standards dished out to us? Are we really any different than the folks who bought soap that was supposed to wash their fat away, or who air-pumped their bras? Probably not.
Just as we're guilty of our own rush towards beauty, below are 11 bonkers old fashioned ads that will leave you scratching your head.
1. The Maternity Corset
Not only did these babies help women conceal nine months of pregnancy so they could stay looking svelte and boyish, but they also came with a free styling book. What a deal.
2. Skinny Soap
You could be as slim as you wished with this bar of soap. All you had to do was keep on suds-ing and your "ungainly ankles and unbecoming wrists" would shrink in size. Just don't go overboard and disappear on us, guys.
3. Ankle Corsets
Oh yes, you read that right. These were corsets. For your ankles. I know that our contemporary society has an issue with negative body image, but I can't imagine convincing myself that my ankles are so hideous that they need to be shoved into babydoll-sized corsets.
4. Butt Falsies
Are you not blessed with a fanny that will make men kneel? It's OK: You can always wiggle into your curvaceous butt pads to give yourself that extra oomph. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how weird these would be to take off and let crumple on the floor before crawling into bed someone? I mean... talk about a surprise.
5. Suntanning Lamps
Ah finally, a lamp you could pop your baby underneath to give them that George Hamilton glow.
6. Amphetamine Diet Pills
You know what makes housecleaning and taking inches off of your waistline more fun? Amphetamines. According to the ad, "the magic powder" even gives you "enough energy to carry on working throughout the night." Oh, I have no doubt of that Betty. I have no doubt of that.
7. Killing Yourself Over A Bad Hair Day
Hey, we've all been there. When my hair is acting unruly and frizzy, I gather the poison lying around my house, too.
8. Blow Up Your Boobs
These suckers took bullet bras to a whole other level. But the best part of them was that at any given time, you could just casually poke a straw out from the collar of your blouse and pump your cleavage up a cup or two. You know, if the mood hit.
9. Wildly Fun Blow-Dryers
Yep, that was a casual cancer joke. If you can believe it, the ad became even more bizarre, proceeding to compare the dryer to your old stuffed animals, claiming it's "a nice replacement for your teddy bear." What? Don Draper clearly did not spearhead this one.
10. The Nipple Bra
Or, um, you know, you can just not wear a bra. I'm just spit balling here. The best part is, "The look is so provocative, no one would believe you're actually wearing a bra."
11. Hair Tape
There's so much going on here. Not only was there a decapitated woman on a pillar selling tape you put in your hair to keep curlers in place, but the text read, "When you were a little girl, receiving a Christmas doll was very important. Now being one is."
From soap that melted your fat away to ankle corsets that could keep your shins looking super slim, we had a lot of bonkers ads that reflected beauty ideals throughout the 20th century. I cannot help but wonder what people will be saying about our ads when they look back.
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Images: Lane Bryant (1); La-Mar (1); Ank-l-Korset Company (1); Luv Lur (1); Du Pont Polyester Film (1); Charles Antell (1); Fredricks of Hollywood (1); Panasonic (1); The Nipple Bra (1); Scotch (1)