9 Creepy Fashion & Beauty Ads From The '90s — PHOTOS
When flipping through magazines in the '90s, many of us were exposed to a plethora of ads. Some were cheeky, some were funny, and a select few were downright disturbing. These creepy fashion and beauty ads from the '90s all varied in content and delivery, but our general reactions to them were generally the same: Confusion and a slow page flip that was accompanied by a "what in the H was that?" side-eye. As pre-teens raised on MTV and "Teen Spirit," we weren't what you'd call naive. We had a fair amount of edge to us, but some ads completely missed the mark in the likes of our J-14's and Seventeen's.
Whether makeup poked fun at sexual harassment, nail polishes hyper-sexualized teenagers in their bedrooms, or designer ads made addiction look like something that was #trending, there were a couple of print ads that were hard to forget, and all for the weirdest reasons. From commentary on no meaning yes to perfume bottles facing a landslide of condoms, the '90s took some risky liberties when it came to selling us products.
So let's flip back to our pre-teen years and look at those iconic and weird advertisements. Below are 11 creepy fashion and beauty ads from the '90s that might have made you reach for a wet wipe.
1. Steve Madden Meets Bratz Dolls
I remember flipping through my copies of J-14 and Seventeen and being completely at a loss with these ads. What was Steve trying to sell me? Was this a new beauty standard we were tinkering with? Was he just trying to show us he understood teens? Her phone was pretty cute, sure. But wait, what news did this chick just get on the phone? I hope she's OK. She's not even wearing shoes. I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
2. Candie's Giving Our Grandparents A Makeover
I'm pretty sure I'm going to follow in the sartorial footsteps of Iris Apfel or Sally Field in Hello, My Name Is Doris when I'm older, so I'm all for mature individuals refusing to blend into the background. But this Candie's ad felt like a bad acid trip you just couldn't rein in. It had this creepy Mad House carnival feel to it; and to confuse us even more, Brandy made a guest appearance out of nowhere. This ad right here. This ad is my anti-drug.
3. Heroin Chic Aesthetics
The '90s were famous for their brief dabblement in the provocative "heroin chic" aesthetic. Seemingly meant to give an edgy backdrop to designer looks, the fashion world gave many of its already-thin models sweaty, mid-high, or withdrawal-esque aesthetics, smudging their makeup, messing up their hair, and giving the outfits a soiled, strung-out-all-night look. Making addiction chic and exciting? Creepy to the max.
4. Steve Madden's Bobble Heads
Playing off of the pre-teen love for the "99 percent angel" craze, this ad has haunted me for over 10 years. You just can't get those vacant eyes out of your head.
5. This "Perfume" Ad
Candie's could be trying to sell me a sandwich here for all I know. There's no way I will ever get past the aggressive amount of condoms to ever really find out, though Like, this looks like Alyssa Milano upended a whole Costco crate of protection into her bathroom cabinet.
How can one body handle so much verb-age?
6. Hard Candy's Suggestive As Hell Ad
Raise your hand if, during your teen years, you ever painted your nails in this position. Anyone? No? But it seems so practical.
7. This Pro-Bullying Ad
Listen, Sun-In knows you hate those girls who make you eat lunch in a bathroom stall, but this is your chance to look like them. Maybe if you had a couple of choice highlights, you wouldn't be such an outcast. Don't fight the hierarchy, baby child. Join it.
8. This Consent-less Perfume Ad
Uh... a perfume bottle you clip into your cleavage — one that will mean he "can smell the scent as you shake your head 'no.'" Is anyone else reaching for their pepper spray just reading this?
9. And One More Rape-y Ad For Good Measure
Bonne Bell making light of sexual harassment to sell us some no-shine products? LOLZ. I'd like a Roman numeral outline of the thought process in that marketing meeting.
From highlights to nail polish, the '90s took some risks with its ads. While these are definitely chuckle worthy because of the years that have passed, you have to admit — it's not like ads have gotten much better.
Images: Bonne Bell (1); Fetish (1); Sun-In (1); Hard Candy (1); Candie's (2); Prada (1); Steve Madden (2)