We’re used to thinking of people “way back when” as being so polite — but if these negative magazine advertisements from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s are any indication of what people were really thinking, there was so much more going on under the surface than many of us realized.
All of these old-fashioned marketing pitches have a theme: the judgments are harsh, and nobody is worried about subtlety. Whether it’s badmouthing someone’s breath, making a cheeky remark about a girl’s skin blemishes or raising a stink about how a person smelled, these mean vintage ads epitomize the messages sent to America’s youth during those decades.
If you have ever wondered why your grandparents and great-grandparents were so concerned about keeping up appearances — from having a picture-perfect hat on her head to a brilliant shine on his shoes — maybe this will help explain. After being constantly bombarded by messages like the ones shown below, it’s a wonder that teens in generations past went out in public at all.
Take a look back at these mean vintage ads, and pretty soon, you’ll probably want to go brush your teeth again and put on some more deodorant. Just in case.
“Let the tide take her out… I WON’T!” (1951)
What a damning thing to say about a pretty girl out to make the most of her holiday! Attracted by her good looks, men dated her once, but never took her out for a second time. And for a very good reason.* So the vacation that could have been so gay and exciting became a dull and dreary flop.
Unfortunately, you can be guilty of halitosis (unpleasant breath) without realizing it. Rather than guess about this condition or run a foolish risk, why not get into the habit of using Listerine antiseptic?
“Go out with him? Don’t make me laugh!” (1955)
Gwen was still laughing when she hung up the receiver. Jane looked on incredulously. “But he has a car, good looks, a good job,” she protested. “So what?” Gwen sneered. “He’s got something else, too… something that nullifies every charm.” Jane still looked blank. “I mean, honeybun,” Gwen said seriously, “that is breath is that way*.”
You simply don’t get by when you’re guilty of *halitosis (bad breath).
“Pardon us, Sally! We all have dates with ANOTHER girl” (1940s)
You can’t offend with underarm odor and still win out with men.
She’s doomed to unpopularity right from the start — the girl with underarm odor! When there’s a dance, she’ll probably stay at home. Men will be introduced to her — but it’s the other girl that they’ll take out. Why should they want to be near a girl who isn’t really sweet?