Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Undigested and Unassimilated

I don't have the energy to write much tonight, but reader Simeon sent me an amusing link:I don't know if it's genuine, but it certainly looks real enough. When I was at University I did some research into New Zealand women's magazines of the 1920s and 1930s - and there was plenty of advice for the skinny. I'm not entirely certain when it would be though - I'm not very good at picking fashions by decade, and 50 cents seems to me to be a lot of money, in any of the possible decades it could be from (yes I'm geeky about history, even when I don't have the information to sustain this geekiness).

I don't wish to return to those days - I don't think that the solution is that thin people should be told to be fatter. I just think it's a useful way of showing that our ideas of health and beauty are ideas that a constructed, and ideas that apply to a very specific place and time.


  1. One only needs to compare the paintings of Rubens et al to todays "portraits of beauty" to see that body type is a fashion much like a hat or hairstyle.

  2. It says to me that if there's a dollar (or 50c) to be made out of telling something their body looks wrong, someone will jump in there whether it's making you bigger or smaller, in an unregulated market.

    I hate to think what's in it - doesn't look like they had to say. I did a quick google and it was being marketed in newspapers around 1915, back in the day when Coke had cocaine in it. This link has some context. You think the politics of nutrition are weird now?

  3. That's a fascinating article. I think it shows how much things haven't changed. Now almost exactly the same thing is happening, but no-one cares.

    I did think it would have to be pre-twenties, flapper fashions were all about being very willowy. It's just that 50c seems like quite a lot of money.

  4. You write a lot about food and body image and fat and stuff. Are you a heavy person?

  5. Yes beauty is very weird.

    In the west I'm told that my pasty skin is unhealthy and there are these various products to make my skin browner.

    In asia they try to sell me whitening products.

    Go figure.

  6. I've actually seen a lot of reference in old comics and pulp fiction in the 50s and early 60s to this. From what I gather, they seem to use "skinny" as meaning "not with boobs".