Last weekend, I found myself in an antique store, and came across a stack of old McCall’s magazines from 1949. I had completely forgotten that this magazine even existed, and since I wasn’t interested in sewing when they stopped publishing it over 10 years ago I never connected the dots between the magazine and the pattern company.
I decided to buy one, and thought it would be fun to peruse the pages of what your average housewife would read for funsies 64 years ago.
My how times have changed. THANK GOD!
First off, that iconic ad image of the 1950’s woman that has become almost a cliche at this point- the huge bright smile, wide eyes, giant full skirt- it must have started sometime in the 40’s because this thing was so full of that it was almost unreal. I had a few “is this real life?” moments because while I knew that character must have been used, for whatever reason I didn’t expect to see it on almost every page. It was very surreal.
Also- there are NO makeup ads, but if you take a modern women’s magazine, and replace every makeup ad with an ad for deodorant, you’ll have a sense of how weirdly prevalent those types of ads were. Apparently late 1940’s/early 1950’s women were naturally gorgeous, but they smelled REALLY bad (or, at least, that’s what advertisers wanted them to believe). Kind of makes you wonder about the things they advertise in those magazines today.
As I flipped through the pages of brightly smiling, malodorous women, I became more and more glad I am in my 30’s today, not 60 years ago. Because as beautiful and fun as some of those outfits were, there’s a lot from back then that I have absolutely no desire to remake as “vintage modern”.
Presenting…. The 7 most awful and horrifying things I saw in the September 1949 McCalls (or- why I feel sorry for my grandmothers)
#1 Crisco- it’s digestable!
#2 Green food coloring = instant pistachio!
#3 You’re a bad mom if you don’t buy our product!
#4- You can never be too clean!
#5 You are getting sleepy….
#6 I’m not even going to try to make this one entertaining. It’s that awful.
#7 The woman today is as bright as a toilet
Really, McCall’s? REALLY? Let’s compare our readers to a toilet! That’s a great idea!
This is the one that really infuriates me. This is 1949. Only a few years ago, the women that were reading this magazine were keeping calm and carrying on. They were making do and mending. They were planting victory gardens to feed their family, and hoarding their rations so they could be lucky enough to buy one of those brand new sewing machines that you charmingly advertise in this magazine!
They were Rosie the Riveter, and you just made a buck on an advertiser that compared them to a toilet!? REALLY???
Fucking hell, it sucked to be a woman back then….