FORAGING FOR FEMALE FICTIONS
Over the past fifty years women have consumed an abundance of often conflicting stereotypical imagery about our role in the world and fragments of these mass media representations remain imprinted in each of us.
Collage becomes the perfect expression for the fragmentation we have all experienced. The art work is composed of hundreds of mass media images appropriated from sources as varied as vintage women's magazines from the 1940s-70s, vintage advertising illustration, retro romance comics, pulp fiction novels and vintage children's school-books.
view full images in galleries
GROWING UP FEMALE
Like most women growing up in the 1960s I was fed a generous serving of sugar-coated media stereotypes of happy homemakers frozen and who were as neatly packaged as the processed food they served their Cold War families.
Within a decades time these same images would be thawed out under the hot glare of a women's movement only to be joined by a heaping helping of new conflicting media-representations of how a girls life should be.
A Grim Fairy Tale
Skillfully weaving fairy tales along with the Grimm Brothers, the MAD Men of Madison Avenue spun a yarn or two themselves.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater may have put his wife in a pumpkin shell (.....And there he kept her very well ) but the Cold War media had a hand in keeping her there too.
Of all the fairy tales I grew up with the one about "Becoming A Woman" was the best fairy tale of all.
Becoming a woman in the Cold War culture of Mid Century America was the most wonderous experience once you learned the magic and miracles that awaited you.
It was a woman's world - your own wonderful world to enjoy.back to top
During the Cold War the Culture of Containment was not just a foreign policy but applied to women and their identities as much as it did to the Soviets. Women were to contain their aspirations, their appetites and their bodies.
The most envied woman in the world was the Post-War American housewife....smart...yet easy-going with never-you-mind- freedom; that was the new Mrs. America.
In her smartly tailored wrinkle-shed shirtwaist dress and Playtex Living cross-your-heart-bra, what gal wouldn't want to achieve this new ideal- a Lady Clariol Colorful Cold War World of carpools, cookouts, cream of mushroom soup casseroles, and catering to contented children and happy-go-lucky husbands.
In her spiked heeled pumps, she was walking on air on her new Easy Care linoleum flooring with the exuberance and assurance most women need to be completely at ease, confident in herself and her bright good looks!
Her life was magical, this bewitchingly new American housewife
"Mrs Housewife", advertisers boasted," your judgment and taste helped make America's standard of living the highest in the world."
"Her home is her castle. Snug within it she basks in the warmth of a good mans love, glories in the laughter of healthy children, glows with pride with every acquisition."
And she's always there." back to top
Most young women in the '50s and '60s were convinced that the basic occupation of virtually every girl was choosing a man to marry.
Visualizing marriage automatically at 21 along with voting and legal drinking, she never doubed for a moment that the sound of Mendelssohn's Wedding March would follow directly after "Pomp and Circumstances".
That degree in Sociology would tuck away safely in your Lane Cedar Hope Chest along with all your cherished keepsakes. Convinced that the basic occupation of virtually every girl was choosing a man to marry, a smart cookie had a keen sense of her market value: her looks, personality and virginity. back to top
Nuclear Family Matters
For my own mother, Betty, married in 1950, it would be over a decade before another young Jewish woman named Betty would step forward and write about "the problem that has no name." So my mother would follow in the footseps of another Betty, ol reliable Betty Crocker and become the perfect 50's homemaker. back to top
Post War Parents
The Nuclear Family was as American as the Nuclear Bomb. And in the 1950's the family's outlook had never been brighter.
McCall's Magazine even created a name for this- Togetherness.
Every magazine you flipped through painted the same glowing picture of the American family, emphatic in their belief that the family was the center of your living and if it isn't you've gone astray...or you're a Communist. Why some even went so far as to imply that a woman's failure to bear children was a quasi perversion and just plain unnatural! back to top
Mid- Century Mother
Nothing was more patriotic than having children. And in the 1950's American women were top-notch breeders. Like the steel industry, mothering was running at close to 100% capacity. back to top
Push Button Age Pregnancy
Having a baby in that push button age of jet-propulsion was a snap. The 1950's womb was not unlike the popular automatic ovens - set it and forget it. Modern Mid-Century childbirth was a miracle of conveniences. Drugs to deaden pain and erase memory. Half the effort, half the time.
Natural childbirth was primitive and Un-American. Maybe for some poor Soviet woman shackled by Communism who had spent her pregnancy laying bricks, who had to give birth in a potato field and then head back to her job in the factory, but not for American Moms. back to top
The Weaker Sex
For the up-to-date Mid Century American housewife and helpmate, pretty and perky. dressed in a festive apron and a fresh coat of pretty-in-pink lipstick, it was a life of comfort and convenience, flameless, frostfree, touch-tone, push-button ease.
With everything so automatic, no wonder she looked to a Man to be in control. Despite this life of ease, she seemed often to be a damsel in distress waiting to be rescued by Dudley Do-Right.
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Brains and Brawn
For a successful marriage, it was important that the proper Cold War corporate wife, understand the tensions of her husband's job as breadwinner.
When it came to who was in the driver's seat, there was no question who was in charge. An advertisement for Mercury automobile offered up perfect Post- War matrimonial advice: "Dollars to donuts the man of the house takes the wheel especially if it's a Mercury. It gives his ego a gentle boost... it feeds his need for a sense of power...it lets him know he's in control. It's just one of the little things that makes a marriage easy to live with." back to top
By the late 1960's, Happy Housewives with their smiling glowing faces shining with pink pancake make-up in harmonized shades keyed to match their appliances, were, like those same retro-appliances, replaced for a newer model.
Now they were to harmonize with the world in off- beat peasant shirts in tempo with what's real. back to top
With the bewitching speed and ease of Samantha Stephens' twitching her nose, the job a generation of women had trained for was suddenly obsolete by the 1970's. Along with their bras, women's libber's threw out the American Housewife and June Cleaver got kicked to the curb. Traditional womans work was no longer relevant. back to top
Nuclear Family Meltdown
The single gal exploded on the scene knocking the married housewife off her pedestal. Ad's proclaimed "It's your time to shine baby and we don't mean pots and pans!"
The nuclear family detonated along with our notion of Marriage and Motherhood. As if hit by a strong dose of radiation, the familiar 50's nuclear family in the media had mutated into monstrous families, as June and Ward Cleaver were replaced by Lilli and Herman Munster.
Parenting and partnering were not a priority for the newly liberated lady.
What with concerns over the population explosion, having children was plain socially irresponsible.
An article written by Betty Rollins published in 1970 in Look Magazine said it all: "Motherhood:Who Needs It?"
Earth Mothers were "in", 50's suburban mothers were "out."
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The End of Camelot
In suburban finished basements from coast to Cold War coast, young girls put aside their fairy tale books, layed down their Betsy Wetsy dolls and began playing The Game of Life.
Choosing a path between Business or College, you pushed your game piece, a little plastic car, along the 3 dimensional game board, continuously filling up the brightly colored car with pink and blue "people pegs" (representing husbands and children) as the player got married and had children.
In the best Capitalist tradition, besides money, you accumulated insurance policies -car, homeowners and life- as well as stock certificates. Once you reached "the day of reckoning" you would end up either in "Millionaires Row" or a sad-sack resident of "The Poor Farm." There was no Prince Charming or Fairy God Mother to help along the way. The Game of Life was a lot tougher than the Cinderella books.
Coinciding with the New Frontier, the game of Life burst on the scene in 1960. Ironically the Kennedy years of Camelot came to a crashing halt and turned out to be just one more fairy tale. It wasn't long before the spell was broken and we realized not everyone would live happily ever after like Cinderella.
The only shining white knight coming to the housewive's rescue, would be the Ajax White Knight galloping into her suburban neighborhood destroyng dirt in his path with his magic lance.
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Of course no one wanted to end up a spinster in the 50's and 60's, but smart single gals knew a job could be a Space Age launching pad for snaring a husband. So until Prince Charming came along, the glamorous world of "Gal Friday's" that was the 1960's career girls, beckoned.
Eagerly she would pursue the want ads, which, like public restrooms, were still squarely divided between Male and Female. Separate but very unequal. But the choices were thrilling. back to top
Swimming In The Secretarial Pool
Learn shorthand in 6 weeks and you too could step into an exciting, glamorous high paid secretarial job.
The day's most sought after top-salaried girl was a Nancy Taylor Secretarial School graduate, trained for an exciting career as a poised and confident high skill secretary.
Imagine the thrill! A gal on the go, going places. In your new freedom loving lycra girdle slimming you from every view, you're a smashingly smooth success, racing amongst the bustle of N.Y.C. hurrying to work in your tight pencil skirt.
Making the scene, swinging down the crowded Avenue lined with skyscrapers and smart shops, you rush to that glitzy secretarial job to fetch coffee, type 60 words a minute on your IBM electric and devotedly take dictation from a handsome account executive in the hopes he would leave his wife for you and your cool, assured, finishing school looks.
Or, with a perky starched cap on your head you could be an angel of mercy. Who wouldn't want to be a beautiful young registered nurse in a great Metropolitan hospital playing second fiddle to a pulse-quickening handsome young doctor, who would write a prescription for real love- the kind you couldn't find in a Medical Journal! back to top
Stewardess- Coffee Tea or Me
When it came to exciting Jet Age jobs, the sky was the limit - literally! No job in the Space Age equalled the glamour of a high- flying stewardess. "I'm Cheryl" a pretty stewardess cooed from the pages of magazines for National Airlines."Fly me."
Stewardesses were the height of sophistication, serving her passengers as the jet whisked those lucky travel-now-pay- later tourists away on their Roman holiday tours.
Chicly dressed in special designer uniforms straight off the runways of Paris, passengers were treated to the best fashion show on earth- in the air.
The handsome pilots were the high- flying answers to any girls dream, ready to make some lucky pilot a wonderful co-pilot. She would be ready for takeoff: Destination: Matrimony. back to top
Ms. Career Girl
By the 1970s the women's movement had liberated women's pent up ambition. Magically, doors would swing open for these swingin' single gals and they wouldn't need a male chauvinist to hold it open for them!
Color these liberated career girls...wild! They were on the go-in-the-know letting their-now-young looks show. With frosted lips and frosted hair, these go-getters were anything but "sugar frosted". Dressed in Bobbie Brooks groovy-go-togethers fashioned from Arnel, they were taking dictation by day, yeah,yeah,yeah, making the scene by night frugging the evening away at their favorite discotheque. back to top
Girls Who Want To Go Places
Even as the 50's housewife receded, to be replaced by the new career girl, doors may have opened but they were more of a trap door instead.
She could turn the world on with her smile but a college degree didn't automatically mean a smart Ms. could step into the job of her dreams.
To open the right door what was needed was business skills. Forget that MBA, it was more important for a girl to have skills a boss could really use-like shorthand.
Then just close your eyes and picture the welcome smiles you'd get from personnel managers and the doors that would swing open in exciting fields when you came armed with all the skillls you needed- steno, typing and a talent with the transcriber.
Now you were on the move to a career, social advancement and a brighter future. She's gonna make it after all! back to top
To believe all the advertisements no one was the beneficiary of the Cold War Culture of casual carefree living more than the housewife of the 1950s and 60s.
All manner of unparalled ease from cleaning products to appliances, promised the happy homemaker a life transformed, a life so carefree you could-do-as-you please. So undemanding, it was a world of childs play; so easy it turned routine into fun. back to top
A Wash n' Wear World
There was a fashionable young buoyant air about the Mid-century housewife.
Beguilingly feminine and Riviera radiant in her cascading stay-fresh bouffant dress of Havana vivid hues nipped to a tiny waist, she went about her household tasks smiling as if she hadn't a care in this trouble-free world. And why not?
It was to be a life of self-polishing ease, of no rubbing no scrubbing no waxing no buffing with twice the shine in half the time; a wash and wear world of no stretching no stooping no bending and absolutely....no complaining! back to top
Despite the promises of effortless ease, it was simultaneously a constant state of war, a contest of nerve and will between the lady of the house versus dirt and disorder.
With the same zeal that Cold Warriors chased Communists, housewives were convinced that there were hidden microbes and germs lurking in every corner. Glasses could no longer just be clean they had to be close-up-clean, everything had to shine like new and be cleaner than ever thought possible. back to top
All across the country while peace loving Americans lay awake night after night , their nerves taut worrying about attacks from ICBMs and UFO's, the American housewife lost sleep fretting over an invasion already in progress, one that threatened every man woman and child:
The millions of dangerous invisible impurities that lurked undetected in every American town, threatening to turn all that lay behind the white picket fences of the suburban American home a tattle tale gray.
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Maid In America
Just as the fighting in Vietnam escalated, so did the never ending battle over dirt and disorder, both with no end in sight.
You could never let up, not for an hour nor a day, not for a moment. Not if you wanted a home you could be proud of, a home where the air seemed sunshine-fresh and the sinks sun-shine brite; a house so fresh, so clean you'll wonder how you could have ever been satisfied before.
So even in this easy-does it, fully-automatic, long-lasting beauty at the touch of a finger world, filled with magical detergents and miracle fibers, mid -century women were still slaves to their homes filled with never ending repetitive tasks. back to top
New Frontier Fantasy
A breath of fresh air swept in with the New Frontier when President John F. Kennedy challenged all Americans.
A timely booklet appeared endorsed by him explaining that "the news was making it clear that these were testing times for Americans and we were all challenged....each of us had a part to play" urging us all "to excel, to stand up, and stand out."
Though the atmosphere was one of infinite challenges, women were still chained to their Electrolux vacuum cleaners chasing dirt, debating the well-worn topic of ring around the collar and exchanging the latest busy day Jell-O recipes, while men joined the Peace Corps to save the world.
While others were out marching for Civil Rights in the 60s, fighting to break the color barriers, hermetically sealed housewives were cheerfully living in a colorfast world obsessed with getting their wash n' wear laundry not just white but whiter than white, a white to unequal others. We shall overcome dirt. back to top
A Spotless Space Age
The Space Age was in full swing, but housewives were left back on earth to clean it.
And if we did make it to the moon, Lestoil assured us, it would be women who would clean it, boldly predicting in one ad: "Women of the Future will make the moon a cleaner place to live". back to top
Waxy Yellow Build Up
With their gleaming, new- formula Ipana smiles, bright with bacteria destroyer WD-9, happy homemakers asked nothing more of others than to refrain from scuffing up the shine on her freshly Glo-Coated floor.
In a world rampant with wars, rioting, and male entitlement, these happy housewives may have been smiling, but more than likely they were numb from Miltown or Valium.
Like underground nuclear testing, anger was to be buried beneath the surface, but the fall-out was soon to appear. Before the decade was out, women would become as agiated as their miracle 2 agitator washers. back to top
The Feminine Mistake
As discrepancies began to appear, the New Frontier would pave the way for Feminism as housewives were discovering how happy and carefree they really could be.
In beauty parlors across the nation, while captive under their pink-missile shaped hair dryers, these women of containment shared secrets.
In between eyebrows being plucked, lips waxed, scalps tortured with clips and curlers, the problem that had no name could be spoken of.
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By 1970 everyone was rapping about the new liberated woman and her newly raised consciousness.
I am woman hear me roar.
Nonetheless, in the midst of a kaleidoscope of serious issues and upheaval that swirled around her, nothing seemed more pressing to the emancipated women in the media than the battle over hem lengths -up with the mini -down with the maxi! Right on Sister! back to top
COLD WAR KITCHEN
No-where was the American ideal of fool-proof freedom more boldly and proudly expressed than in the Post- War kitchen, a rousing red, white and blue world of no fuss, no muss, no waiting.
Naturally, the Cold Warrior still expected a hot home-cooked meal from his happy housewife but now these meal-time adventures were more likely to come from the freezer, a package, a can or a mix. The idea of a home-cooked meal had shifted but not the expectations of the wife as sole server and preparer. back to top
Just Heat and Serve
But now it was easier than ever to create man- pampering meals that wouldn't keep you cooped up in the kitchen.
Thanks to a magical, never before universe where everything was instant, powdered, concentrated and freeze dried it was a chow- hounds delight where you simply couldn't miss. Food fit for George Jetson but with old-fashioned farm flavor sealed in. back to top
Operation: June Cleaver
When WWII was won and Operation: June Cleaver was fully in place, women went eagerly racing back to the kitchen, exchanging Rosie the Riveter overalls for a dainty new apron. What they found was a new wonderful world of leisure being lauded in all the Women's magazines.
The new dream kitchen was chock full of time saving ease, work eliminating conveniences, magically taking the effort out of every kitchen chore guaranteeing fool-proof results. Why linger over a stove longer than you had to? Ther new automatic stove had cooking under control. Go on a shopping spree...Join Dad on the Fairway...live the life you like. back to top
No Fuss No Muss
These same periodicals brimming with lush pages of colorful food recipes and advertisements, gave their solemm Post-War Promise to the American wife, offering her "the take it easy program".
"The time you spend in your kitchen will be brighter, easier and fewer. This is going to be fun! As of now," they vowed "the whole business of providing your family with cheery fare are taking on a new exhilarating atmosphere. A simple, take it easy, modern atmosphere." back to top
A Frost Free Future
Long hours of food fixin' were out.
Enter a bright new frost free future for every homemaker, with easier ways to cook than ever dreamed possible, with modern appliances and modern products to produce foods of such old- fashioned goodness, you'd have to pinch yourself from thinking you were back on Grandma's farm.
While Dad relaxed in his Colonial style TV recliner, you, Swansons and Betty Crocker could prepare a meal in a jiffy, the kind of meal that would make a man smile and say, "That's what I call a meal!" back to top
Home Made Goodness
Nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven and now it was a cinch to turn out home- made goodness the modern way.
The turquoise- colored wall oven with "miracle controls" would turn out your turkey TV dinner neither over-cooked nor undercooked, but cooked to old- fashioned perfection, worthy of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.
Baking was a piece of cake especially if it was from a mix fresh from the kitchens of Betty Crocker. And with your new magic Hotpoint range equipped with "burners with a brain" you could be sure preparing Chef Boy Ar Dee 's meal in a minute would be a cinch, and a downright no -brainer. back to top
While the Lady of the house was determined to serve up man pleasing menus, wrestling with the age old problem "how do you handle a hungry man?" it was her own appetite she was wrestling with. Once again, America was setting a torrid pace in pioneering new developments for the housewife. Dieting.
More Or Less
Cheerfully loading up her cupboards with sugar-frosted, candy-coated-make you happy to eat jolly-snacks for her growing children, the Modern mid century woman stocked her avacado green, free-o-frost Stor-Mor-Amana Food Freezer and her side by side Foodarama refrigerator with enough food to satisfy any man-sized appetite. She, however, was left to nibble on some celery stalks and melba toast. back to top
Cold War Cravings
Her Cold power freezer could store months worth of food but the cold facts were in this Atomic Age of abundance, in this land of good n' plenty-try- it you'll-like it-betcha'- can't- eat- just- one- culture, the one place American abundance was frowned upon was m' ladys waistline. Hopping on and off her Detecto bathroom scale she watched her weight as carefully as her husband watched the fluctuation of the Dow Jones. back to top
With each year there grew an increasing intolerance of fat and flab but in the 1950's if a lady was a wee bit stout she could easily correct any unsightly tummy bulges with a flattering, feminine girdle. The containment policy was strictly enforced by these wives of the Cold War especially when it came to being constrained by their Playtex Living Girdle. Gals breathed a collective sigh of relief at the introduction of miracle Lycra Spandex. No other girdle whittled away so many calorie curves offering peace of mind and social security. Like women's ambition, women's bodies were to stay precisely where they belonged. back to top
Calorie Blast Off
With the dawning of the Space Age women were busy with their own countdown- calorie counting.The long, lean lines America was loving, buying, wanting, in their car designs and trim-line phones was now the new body ideal.
From coast to coast women were counting on Counselor, the scale that tells the truth and everybody needed a Detecto to detect even the slightest weight variation.
You owed it to yourself to drink Metrecal, why put up with less-modern ways when you can have the easiest most automatic weight loss possible, but only with Slender do you not miss anything except a lot of calories, but hey, don't cut down on sweets. Have it it your way. Eat the sweets you like and need for quick energy and stop worrying about unnecessary cavities with New Ipana. Sugar is a handy picker upper, it's safe, effective, doctor-approved and you're rewarded in a jiffy.
Yes ma'm, isn't it time to do more than wish for the lovely figure you lost- fun is waiting everywhere when you're slender, so drink that one crazy calorie Tab, but sip Sego, what have you got to lose? The news is big because it's about a wonderfully different way for you to be small.
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I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing
Women were swallowing it all, whole, undigested. But they weren't the only ones ingesting these messages.
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The same sugar and spice and everything nice little girls who learned their ABC's with Post Sugar Sparkled Alphabits, soon began worrying if Barbie would still be alluring to Ken after all those dates to the Malt shop.
Even though there was always room for Jell-O, baby boom daughters who watched their dieting mothers opting for D-Zerta instead, started slowly absorbing all the negative qualities associated with fatness. back to top
This is the Age of Automatic Contro l
Before long, girls who not long before would munch munch munch a bunch of Fritos, Corn Chips, were joining their dieting mothers in the Metrecal for lunch bunch.back to top
One Size Fits All
Women lost weight and a realistic view of themselves.
Teenage girls envying Seventeen Magazine models, never felt thin enough. No matter how much Tab they drank, they still could never get themselves to look like Twiggy, but at least that one crazy calorie helped them from looking like Little Lotta.
Next to articles asking "Am I Normal" were ads for modeling schools posing their own question: "Why not you You have it. Turn it on- and start turning heads! "A weigh...we go.. back to top
Take it Off...Take It All Off
By the liberated 70's we could let it all hang out, just not on our bodies
As bodies became more liberated the pressure to keep them
thinner grew stricter. There was tighter security than ever when it came to unsightly bulges. By tossing out their bras and girdles, women could no longer count on those miracle magic control panels to mold, hold, and control to give them flattering figure perfection. If you wanted to be the kind of girl girl watches watch in your swingin low hip huggers, along with Diet Pepsi you had to rely on strenuous exercise as well as dieting.
To cope with cravings, nothing helped soothe frazzled nerves like a soothing cigarette. But no fat, male, cigarettes for this slenderella! Just in time for her new svelte figure was Virginia Slims, the new slimmer cigarette tailored for the more feminine hand.
But if you were looking for real body control, then the rise of anorexia and bulimia was right for you. Here was was the magic you've been wanting to make you look wonderful, feel wonderful in a swim suit...an exclusive technique for creating lovely curves in all the right places. back to top
A Post-War Pubetry
The sexual revolution was in full swing just as I reached puberty. Romance and motherhood were so passe.
There was no place for virginal Sleeping Beauties. Wake up sister, there was a whole new world out there. Gone was the "bad girl" the one who went all the way and wrecked her whole life. Suddenly it seemed it was a Cold War world of Cosmo Girls ready to shake your world. back to top
Have It Your Way
Finally there really was something to cheer about. In a complete about face, fast girls were "in" and everything else was "out" so get uninhibited and go-go get completely Mad!
Shedding their inhibitions as quickly as they shed their clothes, the pressure was no longer "should you" or "shouldn't you", but "could you?" back to top
You've Come A Long Way Baby
Making the scene in groovy go-go togethers, their eyes smudged as if with crayolas in irridescent jewel tones of turquoise and sea green, their Yardley slickered lips were wet and wild.
Uninhibited, stepping out in a leggy little Mary Quant slick and shiny vinyl miniskirts these chicks were girdle-free-garter-free-free-to-be-you-and-me; they were part of the new Freedom generation a beltless, pinless fussless, generation. Hopping on their Hondas to Modsville or wherever the action was, their fresh Londonberry hair swung in the wind like Jean Shrimpton. back to top
From Now on... No More Waiting
Puffing on her pretty as a picture New Eve cigarettes, (cancer made specially for the ladies), she lit her own cigarettes and opened her own doors.
On the go, these Sensuous women had no time for pregnancy and no time for cramps. With their birth control pills in one hand their Midol in the other, these grooving chicks in eye- catching-EZ- care- Quiana polyester in get-him- and- keep- him colors were ready for anything in their quest looking for Mr Goodbar.
You've come a long way baby....and babies were definitely not in the picture. back to top
Busting out of her cocoon, and swinging in a butterfly- sleeved A- lined mini skirt, the newly liberated Cosmo Girl could come on strong! But not too strong. Sexual freedom came at a price.
In the 1970's being confidently close was never nicer. "It 's a freer, more natural, more out in the open world and we're on your side," the makers of new Feminine Hygiene sprays assured women."We know its a rough race. And we want you to win!"
The age old "intimate embarrasing odor problems" once faced only by married women whose husbands wanted their wife to be feminine....in every sense of the word,was now the liberated ladie's dilemma, too.
This was the dawning of the age of FDS. A welcome new addition to the world of feminine freshness, was this personal deodorant for the ultimate social security.
"Today's young woman... committed to total femininity, was entitled to total confidence." the ads stated boldly. "With the creation of FDS a whole new era of feminine confidence begins" ...because you were the very air he breathes.
Make this your passport to popularity back to top
KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL
Was it true Blondes had more fun? In this land of red, white and blonde the answer was a resounding yes. In the great cultural cauldron of Cold-War America there was only one basic ingredient to being an American Beauty- blonde.
Your hair could be too oily, too dry, too straight, too curly or too limp; it could frizz, snag and snarl, but if you were blonde, doors opened for you, traffic stopped for blondes, men adore you, do more for you, life was tops for blondes.
It didn't matter what kind of blonde and besides which only your hairdresser knew for sure, but she was sure blonde was a way of life -a happy expression of femininity.
Uncle Sam and Lady Clairol had no trouble convincing me that "if I've only one life to live let me live it as a blonde!" back to top
Face the Facts
Despite our great democracy the pop culture landscape of Cold War America was populated by one type of American beauty. The great American melting pot had not spilled over into the antiseptically clean and white mass media.
In a consumer culture filled with an abundance of choices the choices were pretty black and white. back to top
The Wild Side of Beauty
There was little advertising featuring ethnicities but there was equal opportunity for stereotyping them. When they wanted to add spice to the great American melting pot, they were almost always Caucasians exotically made up to look like an Asian Geisha Girl or a Hispanic Senorita.
We could come across to the wild side of beauty as long as it was a white girl who led us there. Even Revlonsville, glamour capital to the world invited us to go South of the Border with their Mexican Mouth lipstick worn by, naturally, a white girl. "Fashion says: Pale lips, no! Spicy bright lips, si'! Cross the border to the brighter side of fashion".back to top
Don't Be A Pale-Face
African Americans could make the scene as long as they improved their appearances with straightened hair and European features, with skin the healthy glow of a Coppertone tan.
No wonder women bemoaned, "If I've only one life to live let me live it as a blonde!"
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Femininity Rates Applause
Every gal wanted to be popular-especially when it came to the opposite sex.
Modern women may have been swingin to a new beat, but it was the same old love song.
Lucky for her there was no shortage of practical advice and quizzes on getting a man and keeping him.
The one essentail attribute all Cold War Warriors sought and admired in their Space Age Sweetie was femininity. Because no one wanted to be a hitchhiker on the highway of love, m' lady had to learn what qualities every Atomic Age Adam looks for in his Eve and use this to help you become a more appealling female.
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Breasts For Success
The successful female was one who applied all her talents to pleasing her most important audience- her man!
While hips were subdued, waists whitled and tummies tightly kept in check, bosoms were lavishly displayed, generously arranged, poised like missiles for take off in their specially engineered bras. back to top
Always Ask A Man
According to Arlene Dahl the internationally-famed motion picture television and stage star and writer of a syndicated beauty column in the mid 60's:
A feminine woman makes a man feel important. She works at pleasing him, and heaven knows she never lets her career get in the way of womens real work
Screen star and Hollywood Man about town, George Hamilton explained it: "She can get whatever she wants not by being forceful but by being femininie. A woman is often like a strip of film-obliterated, insignificant-until a man puts the light behind her."
"Let a man know that you think he's wonderful". Arlene gushes in a chirpy tone. When you tell a man you like his tie, rave about his rhumba, or praise his putting he is bound to recognize you as a woman of rare taste charm and discernment.
Most important of all "Never let your competence compete with your femininity!" back to top
The Bare Truth
The battle of the sexes heated up during the Cold War and confident carefree girls were to do battle with an arsenal of never before beauty products.
With products as wonderfuly different as all the new imperfectons she never knew she had, the unblemished truth was it cost so little to be loveable. And it was never too early to start. back to top
With products filled with promises of fun things to come in every bottle, he'll be helpless in your hands,
With honest-to- you-lets- me- be me-make up to take you from dull to dazzzling your husband will say you never looked lovelier. You could turn your husband into putty with skin he loves to touch leaving you the way nature intended and the confidence to know you're the woman your husband wants you to be.
You'll both be tickled pink! back to top
A Mad Mad MAD Men World of Frustrated Females and Angry Women
Life was a whirl for girls who embraced the effortless ease of femininity.
Unless you were a saucy feminist like Germaine Greer, the media noted, a libber that even men liked with her easy charm that distinguished her from her militant sisters, you had a lonely road ahead.
The media mockingly stereotyped women libbers as angry, make-up less unattractive and unable to attract a man. Even if the no make up look was sweeping the scene, a gal needed a hush of blush to stay attractive.
Men want their women well-groomed, sweet-smelling, soft-voiced and attentive. back to top
I Enjoy Being a grlllll!
Successfully mixing ambition and romance was a tricky mix, but being a beautifully illogical female was the main part of the recipe.
Warnings were issued with the alarm of a nuclear attack: "You may be ambitious but don't show it girls! A girl should act like a girl and not like the head of a corporation even if she is one!"
"If you don't give a man a chance to look after you, he'll soon give up and let you look after yourself! Don't keep trying to prove how self sufficient you are." back to top
Women's Media Center A non profit womens organization founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem in 2005, the organization "works to ensure women are powerfully and visibly represented in the media" and "to diversify the media in its content and sources so that the stories and perspectives of women and girls are more accurately portrayed."
Feminist Art Project Rutgers University