Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

by: Stephanie Horton

My very dear friend Katy is well aware that I have a magazine addiction. So when she was at a flee market this summer and saw three Cosmopolitan Magazines from 1939, she instantly bought them and delivered them to me as a gift (yes, Katy is incredible). I cannot stop flipping through these magazines! Every page is an awesome experience. From news about Hitler's supposed downfall to Pabst Blue Ribbon and Camel Advertisements to relationship advice to ads about gaining weight in order to become more attractive, these publications seem foreign compared to today's women's mags. One article titled, "What America is Thinking: War, Unemployment, Politics," is the only article I read that could maybe resemble one from today.

However, there is a message that is consistent in both 1939's and today's women's mags: how we, as woman, can perfect our looks and our lives with 'these simple tips.' Now, I'm not saying that magazines are all bad. In fact, I will admit that I read most of them on a regular basis. Some magazines, like Good Housekeeping and Self Magazine, empower women and produce quality articles with excellent advice. But it's no secret that magazines today (and apparently from 1939) are peppered with images that infest our brains and cause us to compare and contrast ourselves on a daily basis to airbrushed models. The purpose of this post is to not only to entertain, but to remind ourselves that this message isn't new. People have been under "perfect pressure" for years. Take a look at some of these photos. I think they speak for themselves!

"The Cosmopolitan Girl is in the early twenties, is five feet six, and weighs one hundred and twenty; she has blue eyes, golden-brown hair and beautiful teeth. She is a member of a small family; her parents are living, and her father is a businessman. She has college training. She loves dancing, and next to it horseback riding and swimming. And she works, or expects to work." -Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1939

Pretty interesting, no? Share your thoughts and perspective on this. We always love hearing from you!


  1. this was so interesting! I can't believe that they have 1 single image of beauty and the perfect cosmo girl! as much as i love my blonde sisters, i sure know many drop-dead-gorgeous brunettes! the one redeeming quality of that description though was that she was educated and working (or planning on working).
    cosmo is such an interesting creature. On one hand it can be a place for women to be empowered about their beauty and sexuality, and on the other-hand it perpetuates this notion of perfection and negative body image.
    Great reflection!

  2. Wow...the excerpt at the beginning is ridiculous--not that we don't still get the basic message that we need to conform to a certain ideal, but it's amazing and laughable that the ideal "Cosmopolitan Girl" was so blatantly and two-dimensionally described. Take a minute and imagine the world as it would be if everyone was like this...uh, boring.