Life today is fast paced. Our televisions are smart, our phones are smarter, and our computers call us by name. Forward motion can be exhausting. We’re all a little guilty of romancing the past. We all love our old movies and stories. They bring us back to a time that we never lived in, but sort of wish we did.
But maybe we shouldn’t be such Romantics. Just like we have our problems today, people had their problems back then, too. It wasn’t all one-cent chocolates, Midwestern moms holding casseroles, and showgirls dancing under the bright stage lights all the time. No. There was strife and the culture was busy transforming for a more progressive society.
So, buckle up into your Ford cabriolet and tie on your finest silk scarf. We’re going for a tour through the most offensive, outrageous, and downright most absurd retro advertisements out there.
Are you ready for these crazy retro ads? Make sure to press the ‘Start Slideshow’ button below!
The Weigh In
We’ve come a long way in the last couple years. In our society, it’s hard to escape the pressure of body image. That’s not new, it’s been happening for years. In the Victorian era into the early 1900’s, women literally removed their lower ribs so that they’d have itty-bitty waists. And if you were around back in the 70’s, you might remember rumors that Cher did the exact same thing.
This first retro ad is about the pressure to be skinny, but not for the sake of being healthy! This woman is pulling a stylish dress from the rack—a size ten—and showing it off to the readers. A heavier woman looks at her resentfully. The claim is that Post Grape-Nuts “keep you the right size.” What might be more shocking than the ad is their nonsense conclusion that a size ten is the right size!
Imagine if the two characters in the advertisement above changed places. Well, you don’t have to! Read on to see!
Body Image changed constantly throughout history. Sometimes missing ribs were in, sometimes they were out. It might be bit shocking to read an advertisement where the word ‘skinny’ is used with a negative connotation, but at some points in the 20th century it was!
For example, Marilyn Munroe was one of the fashion and pop culture icons who changed body image for a long time. The media stopped telling women to stay skinny. Instead, they urged them to eat extra or—like this advertisement—try gaining 10-25 pounds by becoming a nervous wreck and refusing to sleep! Well gosh, that sounds healthy.
The following slide focuses on giving heavy drugs to…children? Click ‘Next’ for the story!
All Drugged up
Before the government started setting restrictions, people could sell much of anything they wanted. Additionally, they could lie about what they were selling, like what ingredients were included and what effect they might have on the consumer.
Such was so with this advertisement for Cocaine Toothache Drops. They were an “instantaneous cure” for only 15 cents. In the advertisement, they show the two happy, drugged children quietly playing together outside. It’s almost comical if you ignore the fact that it’s encouraging drug abuse.
These toothache drops were the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading to learn what ad campaign had thousands of children addicted!
Ah, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. That just sounds calming, doesn’t it? Well it was. It was said to be able to soothe any child or animal with its blend of Morphine Sulfate (opiate related to heroine), alcohol, and a cleaning agent! It wasn’t healthy, but it did the trick. And despite knowing that the product contained these ingredients, it was continually marketed towards children until 1906 when the Pure Food and Drug Act prevented its sale.
But for its stint in America and the United Kingdom, it had rather disastrous effects. Many children, especially those living in orphanages, became incredibly addicted to morphine. Such addiction was widespread and surprisingly not something that the history books talk about.
These following advertisements exploit nicotine addiction for sales. Click ‘Next’ to see the most offensive advertisements yet!
Smoke and Mirrors
Before people knew that cigarettes could actually kill, they did their best to exploit the addiction to nicotine. Even today people are exploiting addiction, especially cigarette companies, but today, companies aren’t so bold with the claims they make about the benefits of cigarettes.
But not so long ago, companies were preying on the weakness and discomforts of others in this advertisement. Lucky Strike had many offensive and provocative advertisements in which they preyed on the weaknesses of both men and women. In this ad, men are told to smoke instead of overeat. These advertisements even suggest that smoking will make you a better athlete! So hold up before you call retro advertisements misogynistic—even men faced (and still face) body image pressure!
What other outlandish claims did cigarette companies make in these cringe-inducing advertisements? Keep reading for the answer!
And even before technology had revealed that throat cancer was a very real thing that could kill you, they were making the claim that cigarettes soothed the throat. Some ads claimed that they were merely easy on the throat, while others claimed that they were the best on the market for healing sore throats.
Craven’A’ wasn’t the only cigarette company to exploit women to sell their products either. In fact, we still do today, but regardless it’s inappropriate to exploit any group as a means of making money.
These next ads for stress are completely insensitive! Click ‘Next’ to reveal the following slide!
Today, we’re also fortunate enough to understand mental illnesses. While mental health can still be a taboo topic today, it was incredibly taboo for much of the 20th century. People didn’t understand it and many people didn’t even believe that it was real! In this add, an anxiety disorder is described as having “situational stress”.
What’s most interesting is the accompanying picture—the woman, so excited to be tied in yarn and the daughter, so concentrated on tying her mother in yawn that she’s forgotten she’s wearing a Native American headdress.
This next advertisement offers the craziest thing to stressed mothers! What is it? You’ll have to keep reading!
That’s right! This advertisement offers beer to stressed, new mothers! By taking up drinking, the company says that women will be healthier, have more energy and have more of an appetite. Even more irresponsible is that the woman in the ad looks as though she’s still nursing her child.
Advertisements like this should make us thankful, if anything, that science and technology has come as far as it has in the recent years. We should be happy that we’re no longer encouraging unhealthy habits like this. While there were a lot of things right about the “good ole days”, there was also a whole lot of things wrong.
These misogynistic advertisements are just plain wrong. Click ‘Next’ to see just how bad they can get!
Women have been taking charge for as long as there’s been something worthwhile doing. Just like men, women are people first before they are genders or stereotypes. These are the advertisements that just didn’t get the message.
Companies fixing problems that don’t exist is classic. This misogynistic advertisement is funnier that it is offensive. His and her ball pens? One can only imagine how long that product line sold! Our favorite part of the advertisement: “Parker’s got the message.” Well, Parker, we don’t think you did.
You won’t believe what fast-food company made this next sexist advertisement! Keep reading for the answer!
That’s right! This next advertisement was by the famous fast-food chain Hardee’s! This advertisement is for men, reinforcing the idea that the only reason my they should marry is for a wife who can prepare food for them.
It’s hard not to get the feeling that Hardee’s was having a rough day when they wrote this ad. They basically say that if you’re a married man, then you’ve got no good reason to come eat their food. They also call their food “sloppy and hastily prepared”.
Click ‘Next’ for the most absurd beauty advertisements!
Ouch! Beauty hurts, and so does this advertisement. These weird beauty contraption looks more like a torture device. We can’t say we haven’t seen anything like it, though. It kind of looks like a retainer. It also reminds us of all of the modern beauty contraptions that people actually sell (and buy!) today.
You’ve probably heard of those waist trainers that do nothing but suffocate you and those lip plumping devices. They’re crazy! We get the feeling that the “Curves of Youth” might have made a killing just like the wacky beauty products of today.
Scandalous! Keep reading to see the beauty advertisement that has shocked viewers for decades!
Love’s Baby Soft’s inappropriate advertisement campaign never got them any outrage in their day. But this advertisement is easily one of the most offensive we’ve ever seen! Marketing your product to children would be fine, but Love’s Baby Soft is obviously not intended for an audience of children.
The child model that the advertisement on the right is supposed to show women how soft and youthful and apparently “sexy” Love’s Baby Soft can make them. This advertisement crossed a line and that’s what makes it one of the worst advertisements that the past has to offer.
We know you’ll laugh and cringe at these next food advertisements. Don’t believe us? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Even JELL-O hopped onboard to create an offensive advertisement! It’s not always easy to make sales, so sometimes you have to get a little creative. JELL-O ran a series of these advertisements in which women made mistakes and used gelatin recipes to apologize.
This advertisement operates on the stereotype that all women are bad drivers and, as a bonus, that food is the only way back into her husband’s heart. We’ll be honest, though. That does look like a good piece of pie!
What do grapefruits and nudity have in common? Read on to find out!
Sex sold in this Sunkissed advertisement! It’s almost hard to imagine that this wasn’t a joke—the optimally placed grapefruits and juice glass. We love her white jacket, but we wonder why she’s even bothered wearing it. Maybe her shoulders are cold.
Our favorite part of this over-sexualized food advertisement is the blurb at the bottom. Fruit picked “by musclebound ranchers” and brought to the market “by barefooted virgins”! This advertisement tops the charts at the funniest, but we don’t think this would sell grapefruits well in today’s world.
Click ‘Next’! These breast-related advertisements are outrageous!
While we appreciate the creative use of a comic in an advertisement, this one is just inappropriate and silly! While we might think it’s crazy that advertisements could say things like claiming that a girl only finds romance after increasing her bust measurement and that it’s socially acceptable to chastise other women based on the slope of their chest, it’s actually not that different than what we do today. We’re just not so obvious about it.
Either way, it’s completely unforgivable. There’s nothing wrong with having a flatter chest than other women. And there’s one thing that’s for sure—there’s no cream that’s going to increase your bust size by three inches.
What slimy tactics were used to sell bras in the past? Read on to find out!
This advertisement for a bra and crazy padded spanx is just as offensive. It once again plays into women’s insecurities about the size of their breasts and rear. The advertisement, just like the last one, also suggests that a woman needs to be well-endowed to receive interest from a man.
What’s even worse is the selling phrase “This is how I trapped my man!” Trapped? It’s funny how we think of the early to mid-20th century as the most romantic time, but there were so many precisely unromantic things about it.
You’ve already seen a few horrifying child advertisements, but are you prepared for these? Click ‘Next’!
Today, Lane Bryant is one of the most empowering plus-size adult fashion brands, but did you know that at one point, they were sending out advertisements like this? This little flyer offers free fall and winter catalogues for “chubbies”, or as they describe them, “teens too chubby to fit into regular sizes”. Regular? What makes those sizes regular?
If we were kids, we would feel awful if our mothers gave this to us. We’d hate everything from the big bold font to the tiny girl, standing in a cute dress. At least Lane Bryant is empowering now adays! We’re glad they got over this unruly phase.
Babies and cigarettes? Keep reading to see the next inappropriate advertisement!
Marlboro is still a very popular cigarette brand. In the past, they used this offensive advertisement to sell their product! These separate ads were part of a baby campaign Marlboro did. The babies are trying to convince their mothers to smoke and destress before the get scolded.
Besides it being awful that the company used babies in a smoking ad, the company also makes light of an unhealthy home environment for the child. Why is the child getting scolded so much? Moreover, why is it okay to tell mothers to smoke around their children?
How can a soap advertisement be racist? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Racist advertisements were extremely common in the past. Funny enough, these companies never thought of nor worried about alienating their customers of color. Just like in this advertisement for Fairy Soap, a small white child asks an African American child why her mother doesn’t wash her with soap.
It’s a vicious double meaning, not just talking about why the child’s close are dirty, but asking why the child’s skin in a different color than hers. Once again. Using children’s innocence to create an inappropriate advertisement is just another way that these retro ads would never be acceptable in our modern society.
What syrup company created the next racist add? Read on—you’ll just have to see for yourself!
This Aunt Jemima’s advertisement is so offensive! This retro ad uses African American stereotypes to convince their white customers that their syrup and pancake mix is the real deal.
Luckily, Aunt Jemima isn’t an offensive character today. In the beginning, though, she used racist speech stereotypes to convey to white Americans what they thought to be authenticity. We’re past those days now in our advertisements—and better for it!
Is the idea of women in the workplace crazy? These ads certainly thought so. Click ‘Next’ to reveal them.
Get to Work
This advertisement tries to pretend that it supports women in the work place, but doesn’t. This ageist advertisement suggests that women with graying hair aren’t fit to be working. “A younger woman would work more snappily,” it says, matter-of-factly.
This advertisement is both misogynistic and ageist. It doesn’t suggest that her male counterpart might even experience a similar problem. And what’s wrong with gray hair anyway? Nothing! Grey hair is a sign of experience and if you’re confident about it, then you don’t need Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur. Who wants Sulphur on their head anyway? Yuck!
Wartime called for women to get to work in the most unusual ways. Read on to find out how!
World War II sent a rush of American women to the workplace to take over men’s jobs while they were fighting overseas. Some of the advertisements of the time were empowering like the famous Rosie the Riveter. Others were condescending.
This advertisement doesn’t account for the jobs that woman actually did do before World War II. Many women were secretaries or seamstresses. Others had jobs typing, working as maids, some even worked in entertainment as singers and actresses Most important, caring for the children was (and still is!) a full-time job!
These car advertisements will surely make you cringe! Click ‘Next’ to see if we’re right!
On the Road
This one is just like the pens specifically for women. A car? To match your lipstick? Well, gosh darn it, that’s just what the world’s been missing. Sexist car advertisements still exist today. There’s still a weird stereotype that women just don’t care about cars.
The problem with this advertisement isn’t that the car is pink. We think everyone should be in the market for a tacky pink car. The problem is that Ford was desperately trying to figure out how to increase its sales with women and this was their best idea. It’s as if they thought they’d pair something that they thought women really wouldn’t like with something they were sure they’d love and hoped the scales would balance. Well, we hate to break the news Ford, but it might be hard to find a woman who would want a Pepto-Bismol car to match some tacky Pepto-Bismol lipstick. Good luck.
People once thought this next car advertisement was appropriate. Keep reading to reveal the offensive retro ad!
This Chevrolet advertisement also tries to sell cars to women in the most offensive way! It’s a lovely car, but it’s no excuse to wolf whistle at a woman. This retro ad says that it’s okay to behave that way and that women should crave that kind of attention.
Well, it’s not! If this retro advertisement was released today, consumers would be shocked and refuse to buy the car. Nobody wants to be wolf whistled at. We can’t help but wonder if the Chevrolet even sold well to women during this decade.
If she was pregnant, she still had to cook. Click ‘Next’ to see how bad women had it!
Medicine For Pregnancy
Back before woman had more rights, if she was pregnant and feeling the effects of morning sickness, the husbands didn’t care, she still had to cook him breakfast before work. Mornidine was advertised in 1959 as a cure-all for nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy.
Mornidine was an actual prescription drug, but the way it was marketed to wives leaves a lot to be desired. It acted like the only thing that mattered was her ability to cook breakfast in the morning regardless of how sick she was.
What makes this advertisement that much darker is what would be discovered just a few years later. Mornidine was made of thalidomide, which had some devastating side effects. It caused over 10,000 birth defects and infant deaths. All so that she could cook breakfast in the morning.
Other advertisements showed that men could do things to their wives and they won’t care. Keep reading to see what!
That’s right! Men can douse their wives with the water hose and she just won’t care. Why won’t she care? Because her dress is still going to look great thanks to the type of cotton it’s made out of.
This ad was run by the Continental Oil Company and advertised resin-treated cotton. It boasted that this treated fabric was durable and wouldn’t wrinkle even under water pressure. However, the ad is quite sexist since it objectifies the woman in the ad by having her dress cling to her body, and shows off her breast.
The ad also changes direction and switches to promoting Conoco Super Motor Oil, which according to the ad is a natural product, and keeps your engine clean. It also boasts that with this oil, your engine shows no wear after 10,000 miles. And, of course, this part of the ad shows the same girl in the same dress as in the main part of the ad.
What ad showed that keeping your hands looking nice was more important than your job? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Women Need to Look Good
In the 1950s, it was always important for a woman, if she even had a job, to continue to look good. This ad for Underwood typewriters also promoted a new free bottle of their nail polish. This polish was specifically designed to not chip when you type. It’s also touted as an attractive red color.
The ad shows a woman leaning over a typewriter, showing off her red nails, holding the nail polish bottle. The wording for the ad tells readers that the Underwood typewriters are sleek and has many features that make work easier. It also says that Underwood as a company helps to keep a secretary’s hands and fingernails “lovely to look at, lovely to touch!”
The newest Underwood 150 typewriter has exclusive half-moon keys so that a secretary’s fingernails never actually touch the keys, keeping them looking nice. The ad also touts that this new typewriter has “kitten-soft” keys so that your hands aren’t roughened up. All in the name of keeping a woman’s hands nice to look at, because obviously that’s the only things that matters.
This vintage ad claims she didn’t get the job because of gray hair. Read on to find out which one!
In this ad, they don’t even try and hide it. This poor girl didn’t get the job because she has some gray hairs. Apparently, having gray hair automatically means that you are too old for the job, and that you are slow and not well-suited for the job you are applying for.
The ad is promoting the product, Wyeth’s Sage & Sulphur, which was a green tea and Sulphur mixture that helped to restore your hair to its original color, completely getting rid of the gray. According to the ad, all you had to do was add some of the product to your comb or brush and then run it through your hair. Two or three passes would completely change your hair back to its original color.
Money saved from this product should be used to buy a girdle that would make you uncomfortable. Click ‘Next!’
Women in Girdles
Listerine toothpaste had an ad for their newly released double pack, where you got two tubes of toothpaste for a lower price. The ad told women that the money they could save within a year of buying the double pack instead of individual tubes would be enough to buy a new girdle.
The ad, of course, shows a woman modeling this sleek new girdle that the women seeing this ad could buy with their savings. Completely disregarding that there are other things a family could use the $3.00 savings on. And, yes, you read right, $3.00 savings in a year.
The ad goes on to describe the Listerine toothpaste two-pack. There is enough toothpaste included to last the average family an entire month. The ad also states that the average person would have 60% less tooth decay when using this toothpaste.
This ad says that women should get out of the stone age and get a bone-crushing girdle. Read to see!
This particular ad is for Warner’s, which sold bras, girdles, and corselettes. It is for the new STA-FLAT, which promised to replace your pokey bones with circular springlets, because who wants pokey bones, right?
The ad shows a man dressed in a caveman outfit, dragging a woman by her hair as she smiles up at him. She is holding onto a phone and dressed in only a bra and a girdle. This type of ad definitely wouldn’t fly today.
You are promised that if you wear this new girdle, you will change your pokey, boney body into a more curvy, less-boney one. This type of shaping would have to be very painful, but you will be smiling while you wear it apparently.
Click ‘Next’ for the racist ads against African Americans you’ve seen yet!
In the past, ads could be quite racist when it came to African Americans. They were often depicted horribly. In this ad for Pears’ Soap, it shows two children, one white, and the other black. The white child is giving the black child a bath using Pears’ Soap.
The black child comes out of the bath with white skin, and a still black face. After looking in a mirror, the black child appears happy to have lighter skin, as if this is supposed to be better.
The tag line for the ad states that Pears’ Soap can’t be beat when it comes to cleaning your face and hands. It can also supposedly turn a black child white. It is quite the demeaning advertisement.
To see another whitewashing ad that sells paint, keep reading!
This particular ad is even worse when it comes to depicting blacks wanting to be white. It is for a type of paint called Elliot’s White Veneer. The ad shows a black child painting another black child with the white paint.
The tag line for this ad says that this white veneer paint can easily cover up black. While this might be true, the fact that they show this by covering up a child’s black skin is quite demeaning. It tells African Americans that they should want to cover up their black skin.
It is quite amazing to see what advertising agencies were able to get away with throughout history. It is actually shocking that this was tolerated by the masses.
Click ‘Next’ to discover how sexist these vintage food ads could be!
Social attitudes toward women have been around for a long time, especially when it comes to needing to keep a trim figure. However, it seems body shamming your teenage daughter has been around just as long.
This ad shows a woman with her teenage daughter. They are dressed exactly alike and they are both tightening the belts of their dresses to give themselves a trim figure. The tag line for the ad spouts that Post Grape-Nuts is a protein cereal that will help keep you the same size. It tells women and girls that it is important not to gain weight.
It’s amazing how early body shamming started, especially in regards to teenage girls. This ad just shows the importance of staying slim, and how being a little bit heavier is seen as unattractive.
What cereal ad says women have to work hard in the kitchen to look cute? Keep reading to find out!
The makers of Kellogg’s PEP cereal decided to run this 1930s ad that proudly declared that the harder a woman works the cuter she looks! This insinuates that a woman is only attractive to her husband if she slaves all day cleaning and cooking.
In the second part of the ad, the husband comes in from work and tells his wife it seems she thrives on cleaning and cooking. He’s tired from work, yet she is still raring to go. He wants to know her secret. She tells him it’s all because of vitamins.
Kellogg’s PEP cereal was one of the first cereals to have B and D vitamins in it. It was one of the cereals to start the craze on fortified cereals.
There are vintage ads that glorify physical violence against your spouse. Click ‘Next’ to see these ads!
This ad for Chase and Sandborn coffee uses their ad to make light of physical violence. Man, still in his work clothes, taking his wife over his knee and spanking her all because she didn’t buy the right kind of coffee. This is absolutely absurd.
This ad basically says that it’s okay for a man to hit his wife for something as crazy as not buying the right grocery item. It’s saying that domestic violence is okay in certain circumstances.
Interestingly though, the ad also shows that there new can of coffee allows for you to test if the coffee is fresh before you buy it. Not sure how long it lasted after you tested it though.
What astonishing ad shows a man stepping on a lady’s head? Keep reading to find out!
This ad for Mr. Leggs dress pants so a mad wearing a nice shirt, tie, and black dress pants, stepping on the head of a woman, whose head is attached to a tiger skin rug. His pose is like he is proudly showing off his catch.
The tag line for this ad says that it’s nice to have a girl around the house. It also says that he looks so nice in his new dress pants that she is willing to let him walk all over her. This ad is from 1970, and this kind of ad from this time period is odd seeing as it was when women started standing up for themselves more.
These next ads show that apparently all women want for a gift is a new household appliance! Click ‘Next!’
There a huge number of ads that get shown over the Christmas holiday. Usually they are for toys and other things for children. However, there were some that showcased gifts for the women in your life. However, they often portrayed women only wanting household appliances as gifts. This, of course, insinuates that cleaning is only for the women.
As an example, this Hoover ad showed a woman being excited to get a new Hoover vacuum as a gift for Christmas. The ad claimed that she would only be happy if she got a Hoover as a gift on Christmas morning.
This next ad encourages women to cry if their husband doesn’t give her what she wants. Keep reading!
This ad for Dormeyer Appliances tells women that she should pick out the items she wants from the ad and show it to her husband. Then it tells them that if he won’t buy the items for her, she should start to cry. Not a lot, mind you, but just a little. Just enough to get him to cave.
Also in the ad is a paragraph for the husbands, telling them that they should get the women what they want or else they may cry.
This type of insinuates that all women want are appliances to help them do their daily tasks, and also that they cry whenever they don’t get their way. It also sinuates that men don’t like to see women cry, and will cave when they do.
Vintage ads can’t often make up their minds if a woman can cook or not. Click ‘Next’ to see them!
Cook or Not Cook
This ad for the Wear-Ever pressure cooker shows that if a woman wants to get a man, she needs to be able to cook a good meal. This ad says that she can do this with this product. It claims that it can cook things in fractions of the time.
The top of the ad shows a man and a woman looking like they are about to kiss. The tag line asks if you have a man in your life. This insinuates that a woman needs a man in her life, and that if she doesn’t she needs to catch him by cooking.
This next ad shows what can happen if she can’t cook. Keep reading to see it!
This ad for Schlitg beer shows a woman tearfully looking up at her husband after she apparently burned dinner. He is hugging her saying that at least she didn’t burn the beer, indicating that the beer is more important than her dinner that she tried to make.
Considering some of the violent ads of the same time period, it makes you wonder what he would have done had she burned the beer as well as dinner. All in all, it is a pretty sexist advertisement with the wife playing a happy servant, and the husband drinking his beer with dinner.
Even credit cards have some odd ads that can be sexist. Click ‘Next’ to see it!
Credit Card Ads
This ad for Master Charge shows a smiling man holding his wife, who looks quite sad and depressed. The tag line states that marine Midland has a credit card that is so safe even your wife isn’t able to use it. This insinuates that a woman is too incompetent to use a credit card effectively. Also insinuates that she would spend all his money if she were to use it.
The credit card has the customer’s face on the face of it, so that the store employee will know if the right person is using the card. Definitely a safe card to have, but what a sexist way to advertise it.
Here is an ad where a man earned extra money at his job and gives it to his wife. Keep reading!
Here is an ad where a man earned extra money at his job thanks to his wife encouraging him to study more to get promoted. He kept his promotion a secret from her until payday. He gives her the extra $50 as a reward for her suggestion. His wife has her hands together all happy that she is being rewarded, kind of like a puppy being rewarded with a treat.
The tag line for the ad says that she can have this $50 because he’s making real money now. It insinuates that she wasn’t worth that amount before, and that the $50 no longer matters since he is making more.
In these vintage soap ads, women are only meant to be beautiful. Click ‘Next’ to read them!
Vintage Soap Ads
This ad for Palmolive soap shows an older woman dressed in a sexy outfit, sitting at her makeup mirror, and looking over her shoulder. The tag lines reads that men only ask if she is pretty, never asking if she is clever. This ad insinuates that a woman’s looks is the only thing that matters and not her mind or how clever she is.
The ad states that by using this soap, a woman can keep herself looking beautiful enough to catch any guy she wants and keep them interested. It also proudly states that it is only 10 cents a bar.
This is another vintage soap ad that insinuates that women are only attractive when they are young. Keep reading!
This ad for Palmolive soap has a lot going on. It shows a woman on the side of the ad with a big bubble stating that a wife can blame herself if her man leaves her because she let herself get middle-aged skin. Like she should blame herself for aging. How dare she!
There is also a cartoon comic strip in the ad where two women are talking, a mother and daughter. The daughter complains that her husband never takes her out, and the mother says that it could be her complexion that is driving him away. This ad insinuates that the only thing a man is interested in is his wife’s appearance.
These vintage ads show that at one time, women were more attractive when they are curvy. Click ‘Next!’
Curvy and Not Skinny
Advertising can never make up their mind when it comes to women. Do they want to be skinny or curvy? It is no wonder that women are so self-conscious about their appearance. This vintage ad shows a curvy woman in a bathing suit. She proudly states that if men arne’t looking at you, should be reading this advertisement.
The ad starts off by having two men running, one says to the other that they should leave because a skinny girl is approaching, and she is skin and bones and not healthy. The same skinny woman is then seen looking at the ad, saying that now she sees why men ignore her.
The ad then states that skinny women should use ironized yeast to gain weight. The ad then shows a woman being eyed up by a man, saying she looks gorgeous now that she has gained weight.
Here is another vintage ad weight-shamming women into gaining weight. Keep reading!
Here is another ad showing a curvy woman in a bathing suit. She is saying that men wouldn’t look at her when she was skinny. She continues saying that things are different now that she gained 10 pounds. This ad insinuates that you aren’t good enough for men unless you are a certain weight.
Women can never catch a break, either they are too skinny or they are too fat when it comes to these kind of advertisements. There is never a happy medium.
Fat shamed by an American classic! Click ‘Next’!
Tuck and Roll
Ouch, Jell-O’s got us again. In all of the vintage advertisements, I don’t think anyone throws shade better than Jell-O does when they fearlessly go forth and not only pick on our abilities to touch our toes, but they also find a sneaky way to say that we can’t wear crop tops either.
Well I’ve got news for you Jell-O, if I had no teeth, I’d like you an awful lot, but you’re not helping anyone lose weight. And in the end, Jell-O jiggles more than anyone possibly can, so it’s safe to say that this gelatinous snack is just jealous.
Is murder illegal? This retro ad asks the necessary questions. Click ‘Next’!
This man is asking the tough questions. Is it always illegal to kill a woman? There must be some exceptions to being human trash. Like maybe on Tuesdays at 3:00 for approximately ten minutes and only if it’s raining, it’s okay, but its frowned upon. You know, like that movie The Purge, except without the anonymous masks.
You know how women can be so ignorant about postage meters these days. And you must know how that can just drive men up the wall. So let’s all get out our letters and write to the officials about that Tuesday at 3:00 time and how convenient it would be for all of us. Then run your letter through the postage meter and…oh.
Do you suffer from chronic Gap-osis? The following retro ad can tell you, so Click ‘Next’!
Gap-osis and Other Small Tragedies
And speaking of men, you know just how focused they are when it comes to the little things. This poor guy can hardly keep his sandwich down because his lady friend has an unsettling case of Gap-osis. In other words, that dress ain’t holding for much longer, honey. Head for shelter.
Oh no! What could possibly be running through this guy’s head? Her seamstress must be lazy, certainly. Her dress is skin tight, like that’s attractive. And what could be worse? She’s probably naked under those clothes! Unbelievable. This poor guy. He’s just on the worst date of his life.
Click ‘Next’ to see the company that won’t stop targeting people’s insecurities.
Three Strikes and You’re Out
Lucky Strike Cigarettes does it again! This brand’s major selling point in the 20th century was that it was an appetite suppressant. And since it’s just so hard to sell with integrity, they ran with that ball like a bunch of hungry dogs (ironically).
And sadly, that kind of marketing stuck with cigarettes until today. Plenty of people would rather smoke to suppress their appetite and deal with the consequences than just accept themselves or go on a diet. Perhaps my favorite line of this is, “It’s toasted”. Yeah, it’s toasted just like your teeth. And your lungs. And your esophagus. Lucky Strike, indeed.
Jell-O is back with its most offensive ad yet! Click ‘Next’ to see this crazy advertisement!
Women? Understanding politics? That’s a laugh. What does the assistant vice president do, dear? It’s not like he could possibly assist the vice president, right? That’s just a bit too easy. A bit too obvious. I’m a woman and I need Jell-O to explain common sense to me.
And Jell-O graciously gives us the answer. Pudding. Just pudding. Actually, get your husband pudding. Actually, get him pudding now. He doesn’t have time for your questions or interest in his work. He’s a real man, and real men eat like little boys; so get him his pudding, woman.
You won’t believe what this product encourages its customers to do! You’ll be shocked when you Click ‘Next’!
This after shave company, Jade East, has an interesting selling point. They’re not making any promises about whether the after shave will get you a hot date. Now way, they can’t make crazy promises like that. That’s false marketing and that’s sleazy.
But Jade East doesn’t think you should just give up. No way. If she’s not “giving it to you, then get it yourself!” This retro advertisement glorifying rape culture is just one of the many terrible ways women were (and still are) marginalized. Bad on you, Jade East. We don’t want you or your woman-sized bottle of after shave.
This offensive comic advertisement is so stupid and offensive, you might even laugh. Click ‘Next’!
In this retro advertisement, a woman is chastised for being too skinny. That’s right, back before #thinspiration, it was better to be a bit bigger. The thin girls were the target of humiliation. They were the dreaded beanpoles, so “Let’s vamoose”.
So, what do you do when you’re a string bean in a world full of plump edamame? Ironized yeast, apparently. It doesn’t sound delicious, but it sounds kind of metal. Apparently, you’ll be the queen of the beach and you’ll gain three cup sizes, too. That’s a pretty tall tale for some yeast.
This next vintage advertisement knows just why men get grumpy, and I bet it’ll make you cringe! Click ‘Next’ to see if I’m right!
The Way to a Man’s Disposition
This vintage ad is here to tell you that your husband is basically a child. If he’s not getting his chicken nuggets, then it’s totally acceptable for him to act like an unforgivable wretch. It’s your fault in fact, because if you’re a woman, get back in the kitchen.
Where is the Jell-O? Don’t ask me about my job. Pudding. Now. We’ve heard the story before; this isn’t new. The way to a man’s disposition is through his stomach. You’ll never get to his heart. Advertisements like this make the 21st century seem so much more romantic.
This next vintage ad knows what makes a man sexy and you won’t believe it! Click ‘Next’!
Breaking news: women are shallow and conceited. Men are judged by the socks they wear. The redder the socks, the sexier they are. The taller the socks, the more attractive his personality is. If you can fit your entire body into a sock, then you’ll be a chick-magnet.
There are ten reasons why guys like girls, because they’re not conceited. It was really difficult to come up with a tenth reason of how a man could possibly find a woman attractive (since personalities don’t count, obviously) so, they just gave up and said, “They’re not boys.” Touché, red sock company, touché.
Pears are bad, says this next underwear ad. You’ll have to Click ‘Next’ to find out the offensive reason why!
This Pear of Underwear
This is no shape for a girl. Because having women resemble fruit offends me, just like it offends me when different colored foods are on the same plate. Or at least that’s what the Warner’s company executive is saying as he pushes his glasses back onto his nose and tries not to wheeze.
And before Warner’s says anything else to embarrass himself, let me remind him of the classics by Sir Mix-a-Lot and others by Nicki Minaj that prove that being well-endowed in the hips is an advantage and not a curse.
This next retro ad is so racist, you’ll be enraged! Click ‘Next’!
On the Grayscale
Sometimes your only reaction to something is a vacant “what?” It’s just like the one you hear echoing in your head when your child draws you a strange picture and on the outside you’re trying to be supportive, but on the inside, you’re just like, “what?”
This retro advertisement tells us how colors work. White is the good color and everything that gets darker gets progressively worse. This Native American has the pure heart of a white man. You know, the pure heart of the man who pillaged and burned his land and then forced him onto reservations and into poverty? Yeah, that white guy!
How can an offensive ad be so funny? Click ‘Next’!
Gender Roles by Budweiser
If these people didn’t have faces, how would we know what gender they are? Well, the person on the left is pouring a beer for someone and wearing pink. Obviously, it’s a woman. The person on the right is holding a hammer for no apparent reason. If you said he’s a man, you get a A+!
Budweiser knows their gender roles. And gender roles mean that self-expression takes a backseat to rightly identifying as your gender. If you are a man, hold your hammer. Cuddle with your hammer at night and never let it go. If you are a woman, I want to see that make up, a shopping bag and something pink. Please don’t disappoint me.
This next ad knows what silly thing your husband admires when you’re not looking. Click ‘Next’!
Run like Pantyhose
Are you keeping an eye on your stockings? Your husband is. He’s got a good eye on them and every time he sees a little pull in them, he sighs and buries his head in his hands like a disappointed judge on Project Runway. For God’s Sake, woman, you were supposed to make it work.
Let’s be honest though, this is the most depressing way I’ve seen anyone try to sell stockings. If my husband didn’t remember our anniversary until the day after, he’s not going to notice the tear in my stockings until my once in a lifetime shot at being on Project Runway is yanked away from me.
Why are this father and son hiding? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Mom and her “Nerves”
Gosh, Mom, quit being so “moody”. I only didn’t take out the trash and maybe I lit my carpet on fire and broke your favorite decoration, but your “nerves” are out of control lately. You’re such a killjoy, mom.
Yeah, that’s “nerves” for you. It’s always the mother’s fault. But here’s a great question; Why ruin the evening? Why not just wash up your filthy attitude with some soap? Because soap is great for making you forget about how your husband treated you like a peasant and how your child broke the window.
This next retro advertisement will actually give you nightmares. I dare you to Click ‘Next’!
These Completely Safe Seeds
Yes, these seed are 100% safe. I swear that a giant carrot man will not sprout in your garden and try to sell you life insurance. Like I said, these are safe and contain no traces of human DNA, just seeds. They are great, I promise.
If this retro seed advertisement doesn’t give you nightmares tonight about giant carrot men and purchasing life insurance (which is scarier?), then you are the bravest of the brave, because J. A. Simmers’ plan for selling these seeds was bad and downright terrifying.
This advertisement sympathizes with all of those poor racists. Click ‘Next’ and prepare to roll your eyes!
If you were wondering what “The White Man’s Burden” actually means, it was a concept devised by one of your favorite childhood authors, Rudyard Kipling (who wrote The Jungle Book!). This poem was hit in Imperialist England where it became everyone’s favorite excuse to invade other countries.
If you’re confused, then you heard right. They believed it was the white man’s burden to “civilize” people of color by invading their land. Which is why soap, the retro symbol of racism and misogyny, was a perfect product. Thanks, Kipling!
This bizarre ad actually sold millions of this product! Click ‘Next’!
The Pig Pen
As offensive as this might seem, this advertisement is actually just telling the truth about this product’s selling point. This bizarre pig-child is the spokes-baby for a liquid quinine which helps prevent malaria, which is why soldiers often used it.
But the children mentioned? Parents would feed it to their kids as way to fatten them up a little and keep them healthy. And this tonic was completely safe unlike other retro medicines. The only thing dangerous about it was its so called “tasteless” taste. It was so bitter that people had to add lemon and sugar to it before it was marginally palatable.
Women can’t win in this vicious hand cream ad! Click ‘Next’!
Put a Ring on it
As women, we have to make sure the dishes are done, but we also have to be drop-dead gorgeous. So, don’t feel bad for our past-selves. Shame us into the old, “you look terrible and you should feel terrible” thing. Great. Self-loathing sells.
Is this vintage ad for a hand cream that will make your hands look less like you spent a week in the tub or is it for a ring that’s prettier than you? If you are forced to do dishes 24/7, then you should welcome your transition into marine life with open arms.
Would you eat this to lose weight? I wouldn’t! Click ‘Next’!
You know why she’s wearing a sweatshirt. This girl, who is very small and has tiny legs like her friends, well guess what? You know what. She’s not a little chilly. She’s not wearing an ugly batting suit. She didn’t have a mishap and loose her top in the water. Implausible. This skinny girl is obviously fat.
And guess what Shape wants to do about that? Liquid diet. Because you need to stop eating, you cold sweatshirt-wearing girl. Eating leads to bad habits like healthiness and energy. Stay in shape with chocolate-flavored fatigue powder. Because all secretly-fat sweatshirt-wearing beach girls love chocolate.
You won’t believe the outlandish claim that this vintage cream makes! Click ‘Next’!
You Missed a Spot
I honestly can’t get enough of vintage cream ads. They can make your breasts grow fifty times larger, they can dry out your hands and make rings look uglier, and now they can make freckles disappear! The 21st century is so lame. We only use moisturizers to like, I don’t know, moisturize.
When I was just a tyke, I wished I had freckles all over my face. They’re beautiful, or so I’ve thought. Get Stillman’s Freckle Cream. I have no idea what harmful chemicals are in this, but they’ll burn your skin off right away. No skin=no problems.
Why did this man leave his family? Click ‘Next’ to see this horrible retro ad!
When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss
Feminine hygiene? I guess it is a man’s problem. I guess everything’s a man’s problem. It must suck to be a man with your jaunty red knee-high socks and your feminine hygiene problems. So awful. What a world we live in.
And this man is sick of it, so he packs up and leaves the wife and child. This marriage is “incompatible” and it’s all your fault, little Mary and it’s your mom’s fault also. I would’ve gotten away with this too if it wasn’t for her and her feminine hygiene problems.
Click ‘Next’ to see the retro ad that thinks dead babies are cute.
Warning Label Needed
And in Exhibit A we have this stork from hell delivering a child wrapped in cellophane…wait, hold on…someone just told me that that’s dangerous? That maybe you shouldn’t wrap children in cellophane? That maybe you shouldn’t wrap anything that needs oxygen in cellophane?
Huh. I guess Du Pont Cellophane didn’t get that memo. This “cute” advertisement just got more gruesome than the third season of Downton Abbey and maybe it’s just me but that terrifying painted stork is not helping. At all.
What accessory can your horse and your wife share? This retro ad knows, so Click ‘Next’ to find out.
When the horse is away, the wives will play. Actually, they won’t. They’ll be wearing blinders so that they don’t get spooked. You know how wives are. Those “nerves”. When you see anything in the corner of your eyes the headaches start and then there’s a blue flash of light and suddenly you’re crying. Hold on, let me put on my blinders; I’m getting a bit nervous.
Anyway, it’s a great way to train your wife. Keep her focused on the dinner. Keep her focused on the laundry. No other stimuli. She’ll just run off and that’s no good for training. Barn and hay bale not included.
Click ‘Next’; you won’t believe what beverage this mom insists on feeding her child in this retro ad!
Share a Coke with Baby
Forget about that lame Gerber grow-up plan. Like that’s going to do your baby any good. Education? How about an ice cold soda? If you don’t want your child to get addicted to sugar, then you’ve got to start paying attention now. Get them acclimated. Dip their toes in the water. Kill a few brain cells.
And baby knows what’s up, too. Baby needs another hit of that pop. And look at mom. She thinks it’s all a big joke. She thinks it’s hilarious, but soon her kid is going to be the spokes-kid for Shape diet meals. So, how soon is too soon? I ask myself everyday if I should have started drinking soda at a younger age. We all need a better start in life.
I bet you can’t guess the appalling reason why this man is moping in the next ad. Click ‘Next’ to find out!
This poor fellow is the face of woman’s suffering. All those periods that had you weeping on the couch into a tub of ice cream, fainting from the pain, then hospitalized? Pshhh, he’s seen worse. He doesn’t just experience the worst of menstrual pain, he is menstrual pain.
Poor thing. The worst days of his life could all be attributed to one irritable woman whose uterus just wouldn’t give her a break. Do you hear that, you mad lads? Get Femicin. Fast relief for your wife and even faster relief for you. Because the only people that sell menstrual pain medications faster than woman are the men that feel that harsh second-hand burn.