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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

There are so many reasons I am glad I was not born in the 1950s, including the ads of the time. It is hard to believe that some of these were actually published with serious intent. Racism and sexism were not undertones in ads: they were the main message. It is important to keep in mind that these ads were very real, very serious, and unfortunately, not that long ago.

Today, this ad reads as a joke, but 70 years ago it was the peak of advertising. Let’s start with the woman: the white woman, without a hair out of place, her perfectly red lips an innocent “O”, her minimally made-up eyes feigning surprise, her manicured fingers gracefully posed. She was who every woman wanted to be in the 50s, who everyone wanted to look like.

Going down to the text, viewers’ eyes are immediately drawn to “You mean a woman can open it?” If that doesn’t make you roll your eyes, the following sentences will: “Easily — without a knife, a bottle opener, or even a husband! All it takes is a dainty grasp, an easy, two-finger twist — and the [ketchup] is ready to pour.” After I read this for the first time, so many things went through my head. First, “dainty” is definitely not the word I would use when describing someone opening a ketchup bottle, but I wasn’t alive in the 50s, so what do I know? Second, if you can’t open a ketchup bottle yourself, the only three other options are a knife, a bottle opener, or a husband? HUH? What happened to the good old tap-tap or using a rag or your dad or your mom or running the bottle under warm water or even a boyfriend? You had to be married to the chap for him to open your bottle of ketchup? The 50s were so weird.

Sexism was not the only confusing advertising tactic of the 50s though. Body positive clothing is a great thing; in fact, we need more of it. I was surprised to find a body-positive adjacent ad from the 50s, but adjacent may be too nice of a word. The main text of the ad: “She can have a tummy/…and still look yummy!” is incredibly off-putting. The picture paired with it makes it worse. That girl is fit, slim, and not “on the plump side” as the rest of the ad suggests. I’m pretty sure this ad had some sort of positive intentions; however, it is incredibly offensive and almost certainly had the opposite effect. Not to mention, the ad suggests that just because a girl is on the heavier side means that she usually doesn’t look good in clothes, which is not true at all! On top of all of this, the name of this brand is Chubbbettes, which would not make me want to buy it. The name Chubbettes feels immature and like a mockery of their target audience.

We all knew that the 50s had some shady business going on, and these two ads really show just how true that was. Now, in 2022, we have come a long way with our advertisements, but we still have a lot of room for improvement.

Jordan is a member of Kenyon's class of 2026. Originally from NYC, she loves soft things, dogs, and anything chocolate. She likes to do makeup and has embraced her curly hair and can spend too long talking about both. She can usually be spotted in a pair of cute pants and platform sneakers, and will try almost anything once.