1940s-1970s: Weight Gain Ads

Image 6 scanned by Jacque Nodell (Sequential Crush)

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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

50 Responses

  1. kp

    Yeah, and when they say “flesh,” what they mean is “boobs.” Now we’ve got plastic substitutes.

    • Rhyan

      They didn’t mean boobs, they meant what they said “flesh”. A healthy body. Not a sack of bones.

  2. Pepp


    Remember this was the age of Marilyn Monroe. They meant boobs AND hips. The Hourglass figure was the ideal.

    Although in the black community you’ll still get passed over for being a beanpole gal.

  3. Sarah

    If those women want to gain weight, all they have to do is go on a diet, then go off, then go on, then go off. That made ME gain weight. :)

  4. okaydokay

    Western society still values that largely unattainable (for most women) hourglass figure (which by pounds/flesh they meatn boobs and hips, small waist). There are simply more overweight people nowadays as opposed to undernourished. Telling the majority they are unacceptable and should strive for the rare to feel better has been a guaranteed money making strategy since advertising began.

  5. Jen

    All I’m seeing in these ads are boobs. The message should have been, “stop being skinny, just learn how to gain weight in your bust and ass.” So easy! Right?!

  6. Oy

    I’m kind of glad ads are a lot more subtle and devious about telling you how pathetic you are nowadays. Back then they really just bludgeoned you in the face with it, didn’t they? “YOU LOOK LIKE A HIDEOUS MONSTER AND CERTAINLY WILL DIE ALONE UNLESS YOU EAT THIS YEAST PILL”

  7. SnigePippi

    It’s a funny thing…
    I have a more estethic one in a book, but scanners dead and I can’t fin it online.

    We are so well of someplaces that fatty-startchy food is for the poor, and rich people live on fresh rough vegetables… Other places hunger is still the same O_o

    I don’t know what to do. We’re a pack animal following the treand and subscribeable to urges from our brain too.

    When are boobs to small and when are they too big?
    Whe don’t know anymore!
    Long lives evolution!

  8. Lisamarie

    Will it never stop? From being too skinny to being too fat. Why do we women put up with this crap? BE HEALTHY!!! REJOICE in the fact that we live in a country where we are free to get an education, vote, and choose whether or not we shall marry, bear children, and the like!

    What would happen if all the women STOPPED BUYING INTO FASHION?

  9. jimmy

    I don´t care how women looks like, I think women are the most beautyfull creation of our Lord, no matter how they are, are pretty and that´s all.

  10. Erica Helm

    Wow, I wish I could find this today! I used to have curves then I lost 4 kilos and have been trying and trying for years literally to gain it back but with no luck.

  11. Suzanne

    How times have changed! Although advertising is still trying to convince people that their popularity and worth as a human is based on what they look like. How harmful are these messages!

  12. Josiane

    Wow… Brewer’s ale yeast is now advertised to LOSE weight… What a load of crap. Though I prefer these ads to those we have today. *sigh*

  13. LaryOly

    It just goes to show how advertisers can convince anyone that they’re flawed, and can only be made perfect if they buy the products being advertised.

    Of course, what’s even more ridiculous is that yesterday’s “too skinny” is today’s “sexy”. Last night, I attended a regional beauty pageant on the Miss Universe circuit. All of the contestants were so skinny that they looked ill—or would have, if they hadn’t been so heavily spray-tanned and made-up—and they all had hair extensions. Beauty pageants are such a joke! If they wanted to gain even a shred of credibility, they should treat hair extensions, cosmetic surgery, and spray tans the same way as athletic competitions treat steroids.

  14. Mrs.Smith

    Just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed all these comments! Let’s all just be happy with and take good care of the bodies God’s given us – what you are inside is infinitely more important than how you look outside.

  15. Charlie

    I don’t understand how these ads would be considered any better or promoting a “healthier” way to live..girls used to have to have curves but now they need to be super skinny.. Girls should just live to be healthy and proud of their bodies no matter what they look like. I love my body with my curves but I also enjoy working out to stay healthy, not to lose weight. Most guys want a girl that looks healthy anyway, not one that looks anorexic. Most importantly, though, if a guy doesn’t want you for how you look, he isn’t right for you anyway and is probably a jerk. These ads are just as unhealthy and aid in promoting self-objectification as ads are today..just love your body for what it is.

  16. ham

    ARe the girls in the above photos supposed to represent after they gained the extra 10 pounds to catch a man? Because from I see, they ARE skinny in those photos and our ads today that encourage women to lose weight want them to look like the above photos. Many women who need to lose weight are 200 pounds or above and these girls are nowhere near that. I find these ads stupid. Bottom line, who wants to be fat? and justifying your holiday weight gain with these ads is making no one feel better but the person reading it.

  17. christine

    Back then I would have been attractive! Now because of my boobs and wide hips i’m fat! They don’t make clothing that comes even close to fitting me correctly, a woman with actual curves, everything is made for stick figures now days! And just so a bunch of people don’t say I’m fat, my measurements are, 40,28,40. My hips may be 42 or so.. and my cup size is 36G. so, yeah, Super ugly and fay by today’s standards.

    • kris

      My measurements are pretty much exactly the same, 40-28-41, and I have the same problem with clothes. You’re still considered attractive now though, not just back in the day…I don’t think anymore that we should buy into the crazy idea that “sticks” are all that’s attractive. Look at America Ferrara, Sofia Vergara, the Kardashians, Christina Hendricks…Those women are beautiful and the U.S. can hardly get enough of them! You’re far from “super ugly and fat by today’s standards,” you actually have a coveted body shape. Embrace that.

  18. Johanna

    I mean, if they’re going to gain weight so quickly.. that’s what happened to me.

  19. Thorby

    That guy in 5 needs some wate-on.

    Anyone else noticed that most advertising directed at woman is really derogatory. Feminine odor, smooth legs and pits, white teeth, hair products, skin care products, etc.

    On the other hand, most male advertising is affirming, except for maybe shaving creams/razors. Guys get beer, tools, cars, and viagra.

  20. Antimidation

    This of course is no better then telling women they need to lose weight. There’s so many products, magazines, t.v. commercials, ads, telling women they need to lose weight that women WITH hour glass figures actually think they are fat when they are not. The lines have blurred between what is physically pleasing in general society…when does a woman become too fat or too skinny? The same could be said for men as well. Ironically mainstream society thinks we are somehow better than animals when in fact these ads prove we are not….our instincts tell us that women with large breasts and wide hips have the highest probability of birthing healthy offspring, these physical traits are ingrained in our instincts as males of our species. As are the attraction of broad shoulders and muscle to females of our species (generally, not all)Modern society dictates trends which is sad but true, however, people have learned to rise above general instincts and care about personality over physical traits, i’ve seen couples that are all kinds of body shapes and it really doesn’t matter to them what their partners body looks like which is good. Personally I do not mind a woman with a little meat on her bones, the bottom line is we still have a lot of our pack animal instincts that tell us (generally) what looks attractive and what does not, society (advertisement/money making) may pull the scale back and forth though.

  21. Juliemadblogger

    I have anorexia. I developed it in 1980. At the time, I was very naive and isolated, and had never seen a fashion magazine and didn’t know they existed. I don’t think that the media played a part in what caused my condition, but there were many, many other factors involved. I’d say that these factors include my upbringing, heredity, what it was like for me as a schoolgirl, my personality, certain bad things that happened to me, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and plain ole bad luck. But now, I seem to suffer from more body dysmorphia than I ever have. I think this is because I am bombarded so much by these online articles I read. I try to do research on weight issues, but even these articles that are supposed to be body-friendly are all about LOSING weight and they assume that this is the life goal, that losing and thinness is what health is all about.

  22. Sara

    My mom used to tell me it was in to be curvy, and that she got made fun of in high school for being skinny. I went to high school during the heroin-chic 90s and have always struggled with my weight (trying to keep it off, that is), so I had a really hard time believing any woman could ever be considered too skinny.

    The bottom line: God forbid we should accept ourselves as we are, broaden our range of what’s considered attractive, and just be as healthy as possible. It’s much more profitable for manufacturers of products like these (or the zillion-billion diet pills and plans out there now) if we all hate ourselves, or worse–project our self-hatred and harsh judgments onto others so they can feel bad too. Would it really be so bad to spread love and self-acceptance instead?

  23. Colorado Personal Injury Lawyers

    That’s actually really, really amazing. It’s incredible how much has changed since then. Women shouldn’t be worried about their figure, they should be worrying about being healthy. Curves are beautiful, embrace them!

  24. Thermal Paper

    Wow this is crazy, So much had changed since back the. Curves are attractive. Guys want something to cuddle not skin and bone! Great stuff!!

  25. tim

    that is hillarious when compared to todays ads which are trying to get every woman to lose weight no matter how skinny she is. I bet those women were a lot happier since it is a lot easier to put on weight than to keep it of.

  26. Pam

    All my life I was “skinny”, made fun of, called flatty patty and all kinds of other names. It hurts.
    There are always these stupid ads on how to lose weight but no one ever takes into consideration us thin people can’t gain the weight you are trying to lose. (and some of you really need to lose it more than I need to gain it!!!). So, thanks for the yeast, I am 53 years old now ~ still thin and apparently a good thing! So, it took years to get over the self conscious, nagging thoughts I had/have of myself…I guess it never goes away…people were cruel. Now they can look in the mirror and decide which way they want to go…less is more or too much more !

  27. Gigi

    BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA BAAAAAAAAAAAAA Follow like sheep, whatever they tell us is in, well that’s what’s in. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  28. luna

    I have an Hourglass figure, but my relatives keep telling me I’ve got too much ass. But back in those period they’d be considered skinny monsters.
    Definitely, no matter how much time passes, people still different and beauty canons always discriminate some parts.

  29. Nicholas Charles

    Celebrate the positive in yourself and others and let’s cast out the negatives together!

  30. HollyH

    If the guy in the second to last ad put on a pair of skinny girl jeans and grew sideburns, he’d be the height of hipster chic. Which is not actually a compliment.

  31. Kennes

    The women in the past. They want to gain weight to make the curves. But if they try to gain weight in present, I think they will be obesity more than looking good. But someone that I met, she also over slim. something that be over and become to unbalance state will be bad. I like a woman that make her curves by exercise regularly. She will be good looking woman that have the perfect curve.

    Thank you for many beautiful pictures. I feel so funny since the first picture. :D

  32. Luke S

    What’s the difference between these ads and modern ones? Replace “skinny” with “overweight” and it’s exactly the same bullshit. “You’re ugly if you’re ______.”

    Long story short? Advertisers are assholes.

  33. Reality

    All those women are skinnier than 99% of American women today. While I wholly agree with the sentiment implied, I would be careful to not use advertising aimed towards harder working and less nourished people as an excuse to eat more. We are fat enough already.

  34. John P

    Ok lets bring some context.

    Back at this time malnourishment was still endemic, kids still had bow legs and ricketts.

    As you can see by the pictures the these fattened up women are still not fat. The tide has changed the other way because of the obscenely decadent foods and lifestyles which allows people to pile on weight like never before possible.

    The key has always been to look healthy. Why women would ever care what a group of woman hatting gay fashion designers think they should look like I’ll never know.

  35. Jen

    Wow! How times have changed, but then saying that it’s advertisers still putting pressure on women to change the way they look!


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