I came across this picture of a vintage weight GAIN ad in a Tumblr post and it immediately reminded me of my public issue of eating disorders. This ad was released in the ’40s by a company called Wate-On, whose slogan was “True Beauty Includes a Full Figure”. Today, consumers would most likely be shocked to come across an ad such as this. We would probably assume that the editor made a mistake and accidentally switched the skinny figure as the “before” photo.
However, today we have gone from drinking 6.5 oz sodas to 42 oz sodas and the average American now weighs 26 pounds more than they did when this ad was released (The Washington Post). This issue has shaped our society into a culture of weight-loss pills, liposuctions, and runway models that weigh less than the average 12 year old and there is no longer any market for weight gain. But perhaps in emitting this idea that curves are attractive has caused media attitudes to push too far in the other direction.
One of the leading causes of eating disorders in our country is the media’s portrayal of what is considered attractive. We have models like Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr, and Kate Moss to serve as constant reminders to impressionable girls that they need to lose weight. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, about 70 percent of girls (grades 5-12) said magazine images influence their ideals of a perfect body.
Maybe if we as a society strove to appear like the model on the right in the Wate-On ad rather than the super thin model there wouldn’t be such a stigma in America that EVERYONE needs to lose weight. Advertisers today will only show consumers glamorous, naturally tiny models to breed and feed off low self-esteem and get them to pay for something they will never have. Maybe if today’s magazines showed bodies like Marylin Monroe’s rather than the size-nothing models there wouldn’t be so many girls starving themselves to death in America. I think it’s time to break the mold… and make it something we can fit into.