The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Incorporating Charm

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on November 13, 2010

Magazines used to be a wonderful source of Rules. They were written in an authoritative word-of-God style that was incredibly reassuring. Do what the editors say, and you will be “in style.”

My girlfriends and I spent hours poring over stacks of Glamours, Mademoiselles (incorporating Charm!), and Vogues.

The Stewardess Diet! (Half-grapefruit and black coffee for breakfast and steak and plain boiled vegetables with more black coffee for lunch and dinner.)

Lane cedar chests! How I wanted a Lane cedar chest as featured in the pages of Seventeen. (Seventeen also had ads for department stores I’d never heard of like Bon Marche in mysterious places I’d never heard of like King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Tysons Corners, Virginia.)

Magazines stopped being authoritative and started being “empowering” which is like telling me, “Anything goes! Wear what you like!”

Argh. Chaos ‘n’ anarchy.

I find reading old magazines strangely comforting. The other day the kids were in school and my car was being serviced by the mechanic, who is only a few blocks from Old Town. I am normally not an “antiquer” but decided on a whim to pop into one of Old Town Temecula’s many antique shops.

I love this Redbook (“The Magazine for YOUNG ADULTS”) from 1952. My favorite part are the ads, like this one for Mums deodorant:

I remember wanting to drink Knox gelatin (gelatine?) for pretty nails:

I take Redbook’s “magazine for young adults” tagline to mean it’s for women in their early 20s or possibly even late teens who are married. The articles focus on things like whether to choose a canister or upright vacuum cleaner, and the short stories are light comic tales of young wives burning the meal the night the boss is coming to dinner.

But looking at this sequence of ads (for denture adhesive, Anacin, and a Dr Scholls corn remedy), either older women were reading Redbook too, or young women had “old” problems back in 1952. I guess once you get married it really is all over.

Grandma would have been on the slightly old end of Redbook’s demographic but she would have liked this ashtray ad. She told me that when you’d go to the doctor, they’d offer you a cigarette. (For relaxation.) And my mother-in-law told me doctors told women smoking would help keep the baby small for an easy delivery.

When I was in high school the back pages of Cosmo were filled with ads for “pep pills.” This 50s cold remedy looks like it has plenty of ephedrine in it. The name (“Tabacin”) is straight out of The Simpsons:

Sometimes at garage sales I get lucky and find a stack of old Erle Stanley Gardner mysteries like these. I love the titles – very salacious:

Many of the “career college” ads say “qualifies for Veteran’s programs” but not this one for United Airlines. Must be under 135 pounds, between 5’2″ and 5’7″, and attractive, please!

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  1. […] the Stewardess Diet? You might enjoy this post on my other blog. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← The […]


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