75 Shocking Vintage Ads

By Kassidy Brown, Amber Healy and Jay Moon - October 04, 2018
Credits: The basic message her? Our product is good but made even better because women can open the bottle themselves.

Looking back at print advertisements from the birth of the basic idea that putting an image in front of a consumer will act like a dangling golden carrot enticing their eyes and wallets, you’ll see that messages and visuals can become dated extremely quickly.

Sexism, racism, general awkwardness and a healthy dose of overall, “What were they thinking?” abound in these ads from yesteryear, when political correctness had yet to be invented and an era’s view of the world could be summed up in what was being hawked in the pages of a magazine.

It’s hard to believe these ads were ever given approval for use, but we live in different times. Mostly. We hope.

75. The Projection of a Perfect Life

Credits: If your eyes make it past the engineering feat that is this model's bra, you'll find there's actually an ad from Bell & Howell here.

In the 1950s, home slide shows were all the rage after vacations.

Families would invite friends and relatives over for refreshments and some small talk, then dim the lights and pull out the projector to relive the blurry, out-of-focus glory of their trip to the Adirondacks or California coast.

This ad, for the Bell & Howell Headliner Color Slide Projector, features a woman in what can only be described as a torpedo bra. It’s hard to imagine her audience looking at anything but her cone-shaped chest extruding outward – it defies the laws of physics, really.

Sabrina, as the model is called, was at least given the courtesy of facing the same direction as the images she was shining onto a wall, but the star of the ad is her chest. It was 1959 and the bra burning days were still ahead for her.

Amber Healy

74. Pants With an Action Zone

Credits: Even the poodle is smitten with this dapper fella.

The advice to learn something new every day is good: there’s a big world out there and so much information to acquire. For starters, in the 1960s or so, men’s pants referred to the front zipper area between legs as a snack sack! Who knew?

At Shempley’s Department Store in Paterson, New Jersey, they were ready to accommodate all those men of action who needed more room in their groin area for all that movin’ and shakin’ they were doing.

After all, did any man want to be the kind of guy who needed only an average-sized “snack sack”? Who wouldn’t want a reinforced crotch zone?! “A man of action needs pants of action!”

Oh yeah, this man was on the go and didn’t want his appendage to get left behind. Thank goodness for Sansabelt and their Action Pants.

Amber Healy

73. Ads That are Wrong on Every Level

Credits: Making children look like adults in order to sell cosmetics is never a good thing.

There was a very controversial ad for Calvin Klein Jeans in 1980 staring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields in which she told the world that nothing came between her and the jeans.

But Calvin Klein was far from the only company to suggest the sexualization of young women.

Look at this ad for Love’s Baby Soft perfume. It’s hard to tell how old the girl is in this photo, whether she’s a teenager or over the age of 18, but they’re clearly going for a very young look, between the rounded cheeks, the baby curls, the pouty mouth, the teddy bear and the tagline: “Because innocence is sexier than you think.”

This ad would never be approved today for the sheer reason that it kind of promotes a number of awful things: Pedophilia, underage sex, preying on especially young girls, etc. The rest of the ad copy isn’t much better, saying the perfume is “that irresistible, clean-baby smell, grown-up enough to be sexy.” It’s about seven kinds of creepy is more like it.

Amber Healy

72. Hypersexualization of Teenagers

Credits: If a teenaged Brooke Shields didn't mind sticking her tush out while doing up her shirt, why would anyone?

When the 1980s rolled around, child model and actress was stampeding into print and television ads, hundreds of print publications and the dreams of young folk around the globe.

Her pouting image was inescapable, and so was the clothing line she was seen both wearing and occasionally removing as a 15-year-old: Calvin Klein.

The photo seen here was part of a massive ad campaign for Calvin Klein, and it had its fair share of controversy surrounding it.

Television networks like CBS refused to air any of the commercials, and the  U.S. Justice Department was pressured into investigating CK for possible exploitation of their younger models (nothing ever came of it).

What might be even more disturbing about this entire thing is the driving force behind it all, Shields’ mother, Terry. It was Terry that had nude photos of Brooke taken of Brooke when she was 10, and then later pushed her into film roles in movies like Blue Lagoon, where Brooke was naked for most of it. No Calvins on a deserted island, after all.

Jay Moon

Source: Rewind: Brooke Shields’ Calvin Klein Ads From Back In The Day


71. Barista Training to the Extreme

Credits: Socially accepted assault and battery over a cup of coffee.

It’s a universal agreement that everyone loves a decent cup of coffee, and even those that don’t drink the stuff can appreciate the aroma wafting through the air.

Apparently, in the 1950s if a husband was served a cup of coffee that didn’t meet his stringent standards, his wife could expect a well-deserved spanking.

The mid-action pose of a man about to drop his hand on his visibly scared-looking wife is disturbing for a very long list of reasons, but was the overall message here that if you buy any coffee other than Chase & Sanborn you’ve given up your right not be beaten?

Considering the product is buried in the corner and the domestic assault is the focal point, all signs are pointing to yes.

Jay Moon

70. Did You Wrap the Baby?

Credits: Someone please tell us there's breathing holes poked in there.

The creative producers of cellophane really wanted to show how important their product was. So much so, they compared it to the joy that comes with having a baby.

In this rather strange and probably dangerous ad, a stork is pictured carrying a content baby wrapped in plastic cellophane. Maybe there are tiny holes poked near the child’s mouth so it could breathe. One could only hope.

All we know is this advertisement would be a field day for any Department of Social Services.

Although cellophane works to preserve foods, it probably doesn’t preserve babies. Perhaps a different approach would have been easier to swallow?

Kassidy Brown

69. Did You Ever See an Advert More Offensive?

Credits: Congrats, Rice Council of America. Your racial slander really made people want to go out and eat rice.

Imagine running into this ad as you flip through your morning paper.

This bold advertisement was printed and released to the public decades ago, and aside from the fact that this is blatantly racist, this weight shaming ad was actually a scream for agricultural help.

The US Rice Council was determined to bring this magic grain stateside by any means. Unfortunately, this meant offending and grouping an entire race of people together into one rude stereotype.

Placing a juicy steak next to a heaping mountain of white rice speaks volumes to the portion control problem still experienced in America today.

Kassidy Brown

68. Maniacal Kids Selling Meat Grinders

Credits: Um...we're not even sure where to start with this one.

This little spawn of Chuckie really enjoys strawberry jam on her bread, and this vintage ad is sending all sorts of uncomfortable shivers down our spine.

A quick look at the upper three-quarters of the page and it appears as though we have a young child eagerly anticipating a jam sandwich made by mom. Then the eyes get to the bottom of the page, and… Meat grinders?

Suddenly, doubt enters the reader’s mind — the illustration isn’t drawn very clearly. Is that really jam on the bread, or is it ground beef?

Maybe it’s only a message telling the buying public that every happy home needs a decent grinder. Or maybe the Dropson folks just asked their ad agency to hand this project off to an intern in order to get a better deal.

Kassidy Brown

67. Studly Jeans Makes the Man

Credits: When you're staring that intently into the camera, chances are you're a stud.

Like some sort of quickly-dated fashion precursor to the Star Wars trifecta of Han, Luke and Lando hanging out together, these jeans make the visual promise that dudes transform into full-on studs simply by slipping them on.

The insinuation being, of course, that these ad men with the smoldering eyes and well-coiffed hair all know how to rock any potential romantic interest’s world.

Whether or not being called a dude in the first place is really an insult (we know it’s not in The Big Lebowski universe), but a promise is definitely being made that this fashion elevates men to the next level of Earthly sexy.

Jay Moon

66. Suicidal Hair Beautification

Credits: Gun. Poison. Noose. And in case you're not getting the visual subtlety, an opening line proclaiming the fact that someone wants to die.

This dark advertisement was meant to market hair products to women. To begin, the language is condescending as it mimics a parent speaking to their child. Why would a grown person speak to another adult in that manner?

Second, the woman is deciding between three strange options: shooting herself, hanging herself, or using another product.

The marketing for this is extreme and really doesn’t get the product’s point across adequately. It’s quite insensitive to people who may have suffered from suicidal thoughts or mental health-related disorders.

This shows how little people from the past knew and understood about sensitivities towards mental health.

Kassidy Brown

65. Keeping Women in Their Place

Credits: This ad doesn't just insinuate, it clobbers you over the head with the concept that all a woman lives for is footwear.

Shoe companies have always bought into – and sold – the idea that women are obsessed with shoes. There’s a woman or two famous for not much other than the size of their shoe collections.

In the 1970s, the Weyenberg Footwear company decided to combine “sex sells” and “women love shoes” into a single, simple ad.

A seemingly naked woman is curled up on her side, arm across her chest, looking lovingly at a buckled loafer with a little bit of a heel. She’s clearly in love with the shoe.

The ad’s tagline is simplistic, manipulative and sexist, plus it implies ownership of a woman is as easy as buying her a pair of these shoes. “Keep her where she belongs…”

That’s it. That’s all the ad says. On the one hand, it’s better than the mindset that women “belong” in a kitchen, baking pies, barefoot and pregnant. But not by much. Just buy her shoes and she’ll want for nothing.

Amber Healy

64. On Your Knees? Seriously?

Credits: Of course the woman had to 'present' breakfast to her domineering man, as if she was begging him to accept it.

This ad is yet another example of submissive marketing towards women and heightening male dominance. A woman in a subservient position is serving her relaxed man in bed. He is stretched out on pillows wearing an entire suit.

Now, this ad not only objectifies women, it also doesn’t make much sense. To begin, it’s a tie commercial. Shouldn’t the man be doing something professional wearing the tie as opposed to taking it easy?

Next, the woman is serving him tea. If they wanted to market towards women possibly buying these ties for their men, couldn’t they at least have a woman serving him a tie?

There are so many questions, possibilities and issues with this vintage advertisement it’s hard to keep track of them all.

Kassidy Brown

63. Revving Up the Myth Women Can't Drive

Credits: According to companies like Volkswagen, if you're going to let a woman drive you need to be prepared to pay the price. Of repairs.

Baseless jokes about women being bad drivers are almost as old as the car. To find them in a Volkswagen ad from the late 1960s or early 1970s is a bit of a disappointment.

This ad for a VW Beetle aims to play up the ability to repair the car without breaking the bank because, of course, women can’t be trusted to be good, safe drivers. “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things,” the ad says.

“If your wife hits something in a Volkswagen, it doesn’t hurt you very much.” Not only is the car safe, it’s only $25 plus labor to replace a bumper. 

You know how wives are, always getting distracted by shiny pretty things in windows and running right into poles and storefronts. Women! Zany creatures who can’t be trusted. Good thing you’ve got that VW in the driveway.

Amber Healy

62. Animal Self-Mutilation as a Selling Point

Credits: How fresh and delicious is our meat? So fresh and delicious the pigs cut it for you themselves.

PETA would have had a field day if this ad was posted today. Pictures you see a live pig cutting itself through the stomach to make some ingredients for the family meal.

Somehow, the pig cuts himself and the meat magically appears. In addition to self-mutilation, this pig is standing on top of a meat stage. When you look at his face, he’s got a pretty swanky expression that raises more than one question.

Is he happy to be here, fulfilling his manifest destiny? Is he worried how to cut his right arm off when his left arm is on the floor? Amongst other things, this ad is a surprising and disturbing visual representation of the dark humor of the past.

Kassidy Brown

61. Exercising Your Life Away

Credits: This chair's ad promised to prolong your life, which of course would mean having to spend most of it sitting in this chair.

Labeled the “most important health mechanism ever produced” the health jolting chair was quite the creation.

It claimed to provide sedentary individuals with the exercise they needed all by sitting in a mechanical chair. If you read the extremely fine print, you will see how pompous these creators actually were.

Aside from the electric chair resemblance, this advertisement was seemingly cheerful. The creators believed they had found the “holy grain” to laziness. People could simply sit in this chair and remain physically active.

The ad ends with the words, “No dwelling-house is completely furnished without the Health Jolting Chair.”

Kassidy Brown

60. An Armed Family is a Happy Family

Credits: They may only be pellet guns, but Daisy made sure you knew dad approved when the whole family was packing heat.

What better way to spend the holidays than with a set of pellet guns!

That’s exactly what the makers of the Daisy gun wanted families in the United States to think. This ad features a family consisting happily flaunting their various pellet poppers with smiling faces.

Although the children are being observed by the parents, this ad raises a few questions.

To begin with, is it appropriate to give children any type of gun that doesn’t shoot anything other than foam darts, even in the presence of adults? Should guns ever be glorified to this extent? So much so as to advertise it as an ideal gift idea?

Kassidy Brown

59. The Doting Kitchen Wife

Credits: How could any husband-loving wife not immediately run out and buy a Kenmore blender after seeing this?

Women are good for two things: sex and cooking. Unless, of course, it’s high-level cuisine, or if it’s good for a joke, then women aren’t even good at cooking. There was also a long stretch of time when all women wanted for presents, according to ads, were home appliances.

Wrap all this nonsense in a pretty bow and you get this ad for a Kenmore mixer. A good husband would give his wife a Chef, but it wouldn’t actually do the cooking, because that’s a woman’s job. Her only job.

She’ll be so happy that her man loves her enough to get her an appliance that can whip together everything she’ll just burn on the stove or in the oven later.

Happy wife, happy life, right? What more could she want than an appliance?

Amber Healy

58. The Polar Opposite of Weight Image

Credits: Wait a second — there was a time when people wanted women to gain weight?

Women have been made to feel ashamed about their appearance for centuries. From shaving their body hair to whether or not they wear makeup, society has never given the woman an easy pass.

This vintage ad tells the story of a thin girl who apparently made men run for the hills because of her weight. Her sadness moved her to try “ironized yeast.”

This magical formula alleges to his weight gaining powers thus turning a skinny woman into a voluptuous Kardashian.

The issue with here is the wording. The woman was labeled as unattractive when she was small and gorgeous as she gained weight. This mentality of a person’s body meeting societal standards is still prevalent today.

Kassidy Brown

57. This Little Piggy...

Credits: Back to the time when being ridiculously big meant you were healthy. How big? Fat as a pig big.

There must have been widespread concern about malnutrition and people, from children to adults, being underweight at some point in the early to mid-1900s.

This ad for Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, which sounds just delightful, features a rotund pig with a human face, accessorized with a lovely lace collar.

It’s hard to tell whether it’s a child’s face or an adult’s, but the cheeks are very round and the face appears very content. The ad promises that Grove’s “Makes children and adults as fat as pigs” for just 50 cents a bottle!

If the ad is to be believed, this was a hot seller at one point in time, successfully sold for more than 20 years and with 1.5 million bottles sold the previous year.

There’s also a money-back guarantee, so if the tonic didn’t bulk you up, the two quarters were returned.

Amber Healy

56. It's All About the Sexist Details

Credits: As this ad makes perfect clear, not only was it not enough for women of the time to look gorgeous for men, they had to have kissable breath as well.

Ladies, if you’re expecting a suave gentleman sporting a Humphrey Bogart knock-off Casablanca suit to swoop in and plant a romantic kiss square on your lips, you best be making sure your teeth are sparkling clean and you have the breath to match.

Although the featured picture of an attractive woman gazing over her shoulder at the man we are assuming she wishes was her fella goes against the company’s assertions that men will walk past glamor for clean teeth, we can all only hope he’s extending the same tongue-swirling courtesy.

Jay Moon

55. The Racist / Sexist One-Two Punch

Credits: Not only are the women expected to carry the man around, they have to do it with love in their eyes.

Van Heusen really knew how to make ads. In addition to suggesting only an African warrior “savage” wouldn’t prefer their oxford shirts, here’s an ad in which a man, in a safari hat, is carried around on a bamboo structure by four women in animal-print leotards.

He’s smirking, reclining, king of his domain. “Let’s go native…” the ad says. These cotton jungle-print sports shirts are “bound to get you’re the royal treatment,” Van Heusen promises.

Is the royal treatment being carted around by women? Is it relaxing while others toil literally under your weight? Are women servants to the men who wear these shirts?

Clearly the wearer will have “good hunting,” the ad says, whatever that might mean. But the Fashion Academy awarded these shirts in 1951, so who are we to question Van Heusen’s marketing department?

Amber Healy

54. Be a Man, Dammit

Credits: If you're not a hulking brute you're a failure in life in general, but especially with women.

Here’s a classic set-up loved by comic books, cartoons and beach movies: Skinny guy loses girl to big, muscled-up guy because he’s weak and can’t (or won’t, or doesn’t) physically fight for her.

Don’t be scrawny! Be overtly muscular or you’re not a real man! And if you are scrawny and pathetic, here’s a way to bulk up fast and become a bigger, better, manlier man!

For just 10 cents, Charles Atlas, “the world’s most perfectly developed man,” would send the poor chump exercise books and advice on how to build precisely the muscles he wanted, promisingly nearly instant results that would win back the girl and show up the bully.

It only takes 15 minutes a day of “pleasant practice” to get totally ripped. And who doesn’t have 15 minutes to turn from the dreaded dud into a lusted after stud? Because, y’know, skinny guys never get the girls. And girls all want the same exact thing.

Amber Healy

53. Automobiles for Stupid People

Credits: This ad made sure everyone knew that ladies, no matter their intelligence, could drive this car.

If not for the two lines of text at the bottom of this ad, there’s not much context here to explain what’s being advertised.

A blond woman with big eyes looks straight at the camera, appearing confused or bewildered. But she’s pretty with nicely manicured nails and several rings on both hands.

“The Mini Automatic. For simple driving.” Oh, that’s it – she’s a dumb blond. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the caricature of the “dumb blond” or “bimbo” was rampant.

Actresses had been playing this role for as long as there were movies, including Goldie Hawn’s character on Laugh-In in the 1970s. She was cute but stupid. Adorable but airheaded. Nice to look at but couldn’t be expected to understand much of anything.

The woman in this ad kind of looks a little like Goldie Hawn from that era, too, underscoring the trope. If even this wide-eyed simpleton can drive the Mini, clearly anyone can.

Amber Healy

52. Television as a Teacher

Credits: Sending your kids to school was fine, but Motorola made sure you knew TV was where the real learning happened.

As much as we hate to admit it, this ad isn’t far from the truth. Children have been raised on the television for decades. However, this particular ad advocates for allowing the black mirror to essentially babysit children.

It portrays children having the time of their life, enjoying their favorite program! By saying, “Television benefits” parents likely gave into this wise marketing ploy.

We can see that this was the beginning of technology replacing the human connection. Unfortunately, the idea that technology is an ideal option for children has only increased. We have this vintage ad to help thank for that.

Kassidy Brown

51. The Guilt Gun Pitch

Credits: Revolvers protect your kids, which is why they need to also hold onto one before bed.

Iver Johnson’s Revolver ad was a bit contradictory…and dark. It pictures a child solemnly sitting in her bed with a creepy doll.

She’s holding a revolver with the words, “Papa says it won’t hurt us” on her nightgown. However, on the right, the company is warning people against misusing this product as “they are not toys and shoot straight and kill.”

Talk about a mixed message. Can the argument be made that this poster, although deep, does have a good message at its core?

Guns should be kept out of the reach of children and the potential danger is printed in warning form. Perhaps they could have gone with something a bit less depressing and more concise – and skipped the kid holding onto the gun part.

Kassidy Brown

50. The Woman-as-Animal Pitch

Credits: With slacks like that nearby, who wouldn't mind having their head stepped on?

It’s kind of hard to tell what’s being sold here: the rug, the pants, the shoes or something else.

This ad is distracting in part because of the woman’s head on the floor, seemingly attached to a rug. “Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her,” the ad says.

Turns out, it’s for pants. “After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her.” What man wouldn’t want a woman to be so overcome by his pants that she drops to the floor and gives up all self-control for his sexy manly demands?

Why would she even think about what she wanted when he’s wearing sexy pants! Slacks even! He’s got to be a stellar dude if he’s wearing slacks.

She may have had her own mind before, but now she’s just a decoration in his home, not speaking, ready to be walked all over.

Amber Healy

49. One of These Men Is Not Like the Others

Credits: Somewhere, at some time, this ad made perfect sense to a lot of people.

We’ve all seen dozens, if not hundreds, of ads claiming “four out of five (insert type of expert here) prefer product x over product y.”

This ad, for Van Heusen button-down shirts, is pretty clear about the experts in dress shirts.

Arranged diagonally, we see four white men in sharp shirts and ties, hair slicked back in that early 1960s style that says middle management and suburban conformity.

The fifth guy? A very dark-skinned African man, possibly a warrior from a tribe given the bone through his knotted hair and a large ring through his nose. His chest is covered in white painted symbols and he wears a necklace of teeth.

Given that this type of representation was often described with the word “savage,” it’s clear that good, clean, white men would prefer this shirt, lest they be some kind of African wild man.

Amber Healy

48. When Looking Like a Werewolf Was a Plus

Credits: Oh, to get in the head of the ad executive who thought this was a good thing.

Werewolves may be cool in vampire films, but Mr. Scarol’s hair color formula took werewolf madness to a new level. The name even has “scare” in it. Talk about a marketing ploy. Back in the good ‘ole days, men weren’t ashamed of their graying hair. In fact, ads like this encouraged men to take control of their vanity and “avoid that mangy, ill-kept appearance.”

This formula was guaranteed to give men that natural, luster they were craving. Overall, the theme is secretly cute. However, they could have done a better job with the model werewolf. He looks painfully uncomfortable.

Kassidy Brown

47. The Soap That Washes Away Racism (No, Not Really)

Credits: This product is sending out a few mixed messages, and none of them do anything to help race relations.

The N.K. Fairbank Company made soap. One of its products, Fairy Soap, was a very popular item that was sold in bar form and also as a powder for laundering clothes.

This ad, from the early 1900s, is shocking for many reasons.

A white child appears to be asking an African American child why her mother doesn’t use the same soap. Is the white child suggesting the darker-skinned child is simply very dirty and that if Fairy soap is used, the other child will be white too?

The pale-skinned girl, in lace-up boots, a blue-and-white checked outfit and adorably rumpled hair, is addressing a black girl who is barefoot, wearing wrinkled clothes and a confused expression.

Is there a poverty implication in the question? Would the Fairy Soap make the other girl’s skin lighter with use, clearing up not just any regular living dirt and debris but making her more like the white-skinned girl and therefore more loveable? There’s a lot to unpack here. None of it is good.

Amber Healy

46. The White Man's Burden?

Credits: This Colonel Sanders lookalike seems to be insinuating only white people can be clean, but this ad had nothing to do with soap.

The White Man’s Burden was a controversial ad that showcased an older Caucasian gentleman “washing his hands” of past mistakes.

This ad was symbolic for white people colonizing indigenous tribes and displacing people of different nations. It sought to mimic soap ads by adding strategic images and wording.

Derived from the poem “The White Man’s Burden” written by Rudyard Kipling, the first line reads ‘Take up the White Man’s burden’ and is followed with:

Send forth the best ye breed —

Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness,

On fluttered folk and wild —

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half-devil and half-child.

Kassidy Brown

45. A Good Wife Sells Vitamins

Credits: At least in this ad the wife gets to give some advice in between being subservient to her husband.

Once again, another sexist advertisement making women feel as if they’re only good for domesticated roles.

A woman sporting an apron and duster is lovingly gazing into the eyes of her husband while he disrespects her subtly. This PEP vitamin was meant to give women the energy boost they needed to care for chores around the home.

The problem with this ad is that it makes women seem incapable of using their skills for anything other than cleaning, cooking and looking beautiful.

Although there’s nothing wrong with a little…pep, it’s difficult taking this marketing ad seriously. Maybe if she was wearing a cape or a trendy business uniform, perhaps this could possibly fly.

Amber Healy

44. Insults as Sales Incentives

Credits: "Stop worrying about your big hips - they're fine for now. You do stink, though."

There are so many things that women should and shouldn’t be. Be kind and considerate but don’t be weak. Be strong and patient but don’t be abrasive.

In this ad for Mum deodorant, a woman in exercise clothes is told her figure is lovely, but, honey, you stink.

The implication is that she needn’t worry about her physical appearance, she’s not attracting men because she smells like she’s been working out. Drop the dumbbells, dumbbell! “You’d be smart to exercise a little more care about your personal charm. Being streamlined, you know, won’t protect you against underarm odor,” the ad reads.

Don’t ever let them smell you sweat. Taking a bath will wash away any vile impurities that you’ve already attained, but this “creamy, snow-white” deodorant will make you whole and fresh and clean and therefore worthy of love. It “Helps you stay nice to be near.”

Bonus: You can use it on your sanitary napkin too!

What lucky gals to be able to rely on Mum, a trustworthy name for a product that’s obviously looking out for them.

Amber Healy

43. Full-On Post-War Racism

Credits: For those needing some reassurance that war bonds were the way to go, here's some soothing, racist words.

Without the racist headline and ignorant dialogue, one might feel bad for this wheelchair ridden veteran. However, add in the dialogue and this advertisement is starkly different.

To begin, there’s the derogatory term “Japs” leisurely tossed in. In addition, referring to Japanese people as being “cross eyed” not only associates an entire group of individuals with a physical stereotype, it exaggerates a facial feature.

As you keep reading, the veteran is telling his story about being fortunate to have only lost a leg. Unfortunately, his story of luck is overshadowed by his racist driven dialogue. He refers to Japanese individuals as “they” and is rewarded for his heroic stance. This unfortunate ad demonstrates the racial climate of the period.

Kassidy Brown

42. Offensive Over-Explanations

Credits: We're honestly surprised this ad also doesn't mention that girls shouldn't spend too long chatting to their suitors.

Do you remember corded telephones? How about rotary phones? Terribly outdated now, but there was a time when having a telephone in your home was a big deal. A private number was an even bigger one.

At the time, the late 1950s or so, there must have been some confusion about proper phone etiquette.

From the looks of this ad, which doesn’t list any particular company or service, it seems that young girls were especially confused about how to work this new-fangled device.

A wide-eyed girl with an expression of surprise is holding a phone. Each part of the phone is clearly labeled, just so no one confused the receiver with the cradle.

There are helpful tips for answering the phone when the caller is looking to speak to someone else. “Don’t put it back in the cradle. Next, go find your daddy and tell him that Mr. Wright wants him on the telephone. Don’t stand close to the telephone and yell “Daddy!” That would hurt Mr. Wright’s ear.” And we mustn’t do that.

Amber Healy

41. Pabst Blue Weirdness

Credits: These bowling Sea Monkey knock-offs are using their blue ribbon hands to do what?

This Blue Ribbon ad for beer completely shatters the idea that women can actually be good at a sport.

The headline reads: “Call it sheer luck or whatever you like. Mrs. Carruthers came up with a strike,” A dumbfounded woman is dotingly smiling at an equally joyful man as she watches her bowling ball magically roll down the aisle.

The issue with this ad is that it demeans a woman’s ability to be skilled at playing games. In fact, it almost alludes to the fact that she needed a beer in order to be successful.

We wonder how Serena Williams would feel about that?

Kassidy Brown

40. The Power of the Eye-Catching Killer Headline

Credits: As if the headline's query wasn't enough, using all-caps for the 'to kill a woman' bit certainly did the trick.

When a woman makes mistakes, you have two options: kill her or purchase a postage machine. That was the unsettling dilemma businessmen had to deal with.

This ad speaks volumes to how society viewed women and mistakes. If a woman was to make the slightest error, she was given the message that she was easily replaced or scolded.

This advertisement makes women feel as if their perfection is necessary even in the slightest of tasks. In addition, this ad portrayed the woman as not caring about the alleged mistake.

She’s looking away as if she had other matters on her mind. Matters like checking for exits in case this guy decides he needs to start teaching a lesson or two.

Kassidy Brown

39. Products to Help Women From Annoying Men

Credits: The picture makes it look as though this guy has x-ray vision, but really he's just an anal retentive, judgemental miscreant.

She’s a girl in a million! Pretty — and smart. Dances divinely. Can even cook. But shes ruining her chances by having gap-osis!”

So says this advert that is diligently pointing out to the women of the world that there is a product out there to stop the fabric between their skirt buttons from opening a smidge.

True, society was a little more prudent back then and social expectations of both men and women were infinitely more inane, but the look on this guy’s face makes it seem like he’s just witnessed the devil rise from the ground beneath him.

It’s a leg under that fabric, my friend. You’ve got two of them yourself.

Jay Moon

38. Life Is Better When Husbands Are Happy

Credits: There's a jab at the ladies and some bragging about how much happier her better half is now that she's smartened up.

“Often, we marvel at her — the girl whose only asset is her beauty. She knows so little and says so little; yet serenely attracts everyone to her side. Too often, her clever rival sits alone in a corner.”

This is a beautiful ad from Palmolive in the early 1920s, saying a woman need only be pretty. The woman is painted in a dressing gown, sitting at a vanity, preparing for an evening out. All she has to do is look good.

That’s it. No discernable skills are necessary. To be clever is to make men feel insecure, after all, and clever girls are single girls – who wants that?!

For just 10 cents a bar, women could feel and look their most beautiful. It also promises to keep wrinkles at bay. All without having to say a word, the men will be drawn to her.

“Most men ask ‘Is she pretty?’ not ‘Is she clever?’” Simpler times, they were. Simpler minds, they had.

Amber Healy

37. Womanly Hands Needed Womanly Pens

Credits: Having a properly sized writing utensil made it much easier for offended women to write notes to their male bosses telling them to go to hell.

Since all women must have the same, dainty sized hands, surely, we must make a universal pen that is easy for them to use.

“A girl size hand needs a girl-size pen” was the pitch for this Parker pen advertisement.

The sheer fact that the woman in the ad is holding a pen up as if she’s never seen it before is disturbing. This advertisement shows the disconnect between men and women’s skillsets.

So much so, companies felt they had to develop a specialized product to curtail to imaginary needs. At least pens are all-inclusive and not marketed to a specific group today.

Kassidy Brown

36. Good Food Makes a Man Stick Around

Credits: Before you two start making out make sure to wipe that tomato sauce off your face.

On the surface, there isn’t anything outrageously cringe-worthy with this ad for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza. The lack of cheese might be a turn-off, but this isn’t an egregious sin.

“Beats going out!” the ad reads, suggesting a home-cooked pizza is a great, easy way to perk up a night at home without all the hassle of having to get dressed up, find a place to go, waiting for service, etc.

The packaging is bland, but the pizza promises to be “Peppier… saucier… happier… snappier!” But, wait, what’s this? “A Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza is the thriftiest, niftiest way to feed a group and convinces boys there’s no place like home.”

Is the implication that not cooking pizza at home for your “boy” would lead him to stray and cheat? That a woman’s job is to cook all the time in order to keep her man home and happy? That she can keep “boys” home in a thrifty and nifty way is questionable.

Oh, Chef, you were so close. The couple snuggling with their really saucy slices seem happy enough, all because she cooked and kept him home.

Amber Healy

35. The Era When Looks Meant Everything to Everyone

Credits: This ad from Palmolive reinforces a common perception of the time that women only needed to look great to have a good life.

“Often, we marvel at her — the girl whose only asset is her beauty. She knows so little and says so little; yet serenely attracts everyone to her side. Too often, her clever rival sits alone in a corner.”

This is a beautiful ad from Palmolive in the early 1920s, saying a woman need only be pretty. The woman is painted in a dressing gown, sitting at a vanity, preparing for an evening out. All she has to do is look good.

That’s it. No discernable skills are necessary. To be clever is to make men feel insecure, after all, and clever girls are single girls – who wants that?!

For just 10 cents a bar, women could feel and look their most beautiful. It also promises to keep wrinkles at bay. All without having to say a word, the men will be drawn to her.

“Most men ask ‘Is she pretty?’ not ‘Is she clever?’” Simpler times, they were. Simpler minds, they had.

Amber Healy

34. My Cigarettes Are Hawt

Credits: Is he taking the crown? Placing the crown? Staring off into space wondering how cigarettes grow legs?

Old Gold was a brand of cigarettes that apparently looked like women. Well, at least that’s what the ad wanted us to think. A businessman is crowning a cigarette box shaped like a woman.

This image is glorifying a rather unhealthy habit. In addition, it’s portraying cigarettes as a woman. This demeaning photo of the woman on her knees demonstrates how disposable society views women.

Not only is she in a subservient position, but she is also being compared to a dead stick. Once again, a man is giving her the praise and recognition.

Women basically had only two roles in the media: being subservient or being disposable.

Kassidy Brown

33. If Girls Will Do It...

Credits: Using a woman to shame a man into doing something they should just naturally want to do. Works every time.

This World War One-era recruitment poster for the U.S. Navy served a couple of purposes.

First, use an attractive woman to catch the attention of anyone (with the assumption being the younger the better as long as they were old enough to serve).

Second, make sure this flirtatious uniform-clad lady was strongly insinuating she’d go off and serve, but since she couldn’t she needed a big, strong man to do it for her.

“I wish I were a man.” “Be a man and do it.” Only the world’s biggest wimp would ever pass that call to arms by. Or so the Navy wanted the men of the time to believe.

Jay Moon

32. The Hairy Face Trainer

Credits: Not only would it train your 'stache, it promised it would permanently whip it into shape.

For 50 cents, any man in the late 18-and-early 1900s could finally tame that out of control chunk of hair under their nose.

The Kaiser Trainer promised to “…overcome every objectionable feature of a mustache.”

The first step towards the unintentionally humorous tone of this ad is the thought that a hundred-plus years ago, men would start their days by religiously putting one of these things on. After that comes the promise that any mustache could be ‘trained.’

If you look closer at further claims, it boldly states: “It will be found that nearly all gentlemen with nice and well-trained mustaches use one of these Kaiser Trainers.”

We’re guessing the “if it pleases the court” intro line was deemed too stiff-lipped to include.

Jay Moon

31. The Sexy Mom Look

Credits: Maternal love is great, but most people prefer not equating their mommy with hot legs and a seductive stare.

Those are the six words no woman wants to hear. American Airlines thought posing a stewardess as someone who waits on her passengers hand and foot was something appealing.

It doesn’t help that the model they used looks completely disinterested in her role.

The description even describes her training as substantial and not “just a beauty course.” Young women who saw this ad were being told that their worth rested on two things: their appearance and how they put others needs ahead of their own.

Kassidy Brown

30. Kids Knew Smoking Was a Good Thing

Credits: Over-smoked, the politically way of saying 'pre-cancerous.'

Next time your mom starts giving you a hard time, just offer her a relaxing Marlboro smoke. That will surely make child rearing easier! That’s precisely what this vintage ad was trying to sell.

Stressed-out moms could smoke guilt-free knowing that their babies approved of their habit. To play devil’s advocate, society wasn’t 100% aware of the dangers surrounding cigarette smoking at the time. so many people viewed this as a harmless means to “taking the edge off.”

Fortunately, we now understand how immensely inappropriate merging babies and cigarettes is. So much so, it’s illegal in some states to smoke around a child. It’s awesome to see how far our understanding has come since this poster first went public.

Kassidy Brown

29. Stop Being a Douche, Lysol

Credits: Lysol made sure married women knew that if bedroom frivolity started to wane, it was absolutely her fault.

Wow. Did you know Lysol was a marital aid? Or that a woman somehow being unhygienic in some unidentified way could make her husband lock himself in a room without her?

That’s what this black-and-white ad doesn’t just suggest, it screams it. “A man marries a woman because he loves her. So instead of blaming him if married love begins to cool, she should question herself. Is she truly trying to keep her husband and herself eager, happy married lovers?”

A married woman cannot simply let herself go and expect her husband to keep wanting sex. No! She must “safeguard her dainty feminine allure” by practicing “complete feminine hygiene” by douching with Lysol.

Lysol, the same stuff you use to kill germs and disinfect your kitchen cabinets and toilet. Lysol even “cleanses the vaginal canal even in the presence of mucous matter,” if you can believe that.

Though most doctors and gynecologists now say that douching isn’t all it was cracked up to be and can really harm a woman’s helpful bacteria. But that smell! MUST get rid of it if you want a happy husband.

Amber Healy

28. The Feminine Figure

Credits: It's already been proven here about the body image extremes advertisers liked to tap into, but this promo was about pushing sugar to lose weight.

You can’t be pointing a finger like that and not mean every word that you’re saying when it comes to the health and wellbeing of another person — especially one who has money to spend.

Lifesavers have the hole in the middle as a safeguard from the candy becoming a choking hazard, but as Sylvia kindly points out here the sugar in Lifesavers help people lose weight.

And by people, we specifically mean women. The right sweet…at the right time. Sign us up!

Jay Moon

27. White People Loved Their Jell-O

Credits: We're going to take a wild guess here and say someone is this picture is under the employ of someone else, also in this picture.

The racist discomfort of this 1922 picture begins with the artwork’s title: “Mammy Sent Dis Ovah.” We wish we were making this up.

The point of the ad is not so much to insinuate that African Americans were to be subservient (even if that was a possible conclusion easily read between the lines), but that no matter the color of a person’s skin or the amount of money they might have, Jell-O was loved by one and all.

Like the Jell-O dessert covered with canned pineapple and stuffed with bitter orange slices your grandparents would have ready for you when you came over for dinner, this message was a little lost with its unappetizing follow-through.

Jay Moon

26. The Weaker Sex Misconception Gets Bottled Up

Credits: The basic message her? Our product is good but made even better because women can open the bottle themselves.

Hah! Women are weak! They need men to do everything for them! This is a classic non-funny advertising and sitcom set-up.

Woman goes to the kitchen, grabs the jar of pickles, only to find she isn’t strong enough to open it. Because women are the weaker sex and frail and helpless.

They need a big strong man around, at all times, to open sticky jars. This Heinz ad tries to spin the concept on its head, saying instead that their bottles of ketchup aren’t difficult to open at all. Even a woman can do it.

That the word woman is underlined really drives the point home. If a housewife can open the ketchup bottle, goodness gracious, that solves all of life’s little problems. The woman’s wide-eyed astonishment at her own abilities is just insulting.

Amber Healy

25. Vietnam as a Selling Feature

Credits: Some ethnicities are just better in the boudoir, okay? Or so claimed this ad touting better sex through subservience to men.

This ad, from probably the 1960s or 1970s, would have been published around the time of the Vietnam War, a time in which soldiers were notorious for bedding women while on shore leave or non-combat time, leaving behind thousands of children.

It was also a time when Asian women were believed to be not only “easier,” but more talented then Western women in bed.

Why wouldn’t American women want to learn their mysterious, exotic secrets? Combine that with the Japanese culture of geishas and women whose whole purpose in life was to be subservient to men, to serve them and be silent and unbelievably beautiful and pure, and this is a whole lot of awful.

The woman in the ad is wearing a very sheer nightie, head tilted as if she’s ready to rock some man’s world, eyes begging to be given the chance to show off her sexual talents.

If Tai-Han is ready to reveal the secrets of “Sho’shdai, the Japanese art of pleasing your sexual partner,” aren’t you a bad girlfriend or wife for not taking her up on the offer?

To make this even better, a quick Google search shows that Sho’shdai, or Shoshidai is a governmental office or position. Oooh, baby.

Amber Healy

24.Don't Sweat It. Seriously - You're Not Allowed To

Being a lady in the early 1900s meant you had to smell the part.
Credits: Society's Twisted Views (and Nostrils)

Did you know that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, women weren’t allowed to sweat?

They could not, could NOT, display anything other than absolutely cool, clean, clear porcelain skin, especially if she was a society woman about town in silk gowns and shellacked hair.

This ad for Amolin deodorant powder lets us know that right away, declaring “Society Simply WON’T Stand for an Indelicate Woman.”

Without this deodorant, her dress and underwear will be ruined, she’ll smell like a person, she’ll be an outcast and considered dirty and unwholesome. The shame!

This powder promises to not mask odors but instead absorb them instantly, if applied as a woman leaves her bath, “while the delicious glow of the towel is still upon you.”

Amber Healy

23. Look Into My Eyes

Credits: Just what every disturbed gentleman needed.

You’re a man in the 1950s. You work hard. You play hard. You hypnotize hard. Now, this is not to say that women could not also possess the ability to Uri Geller a person after following the careful guidelines being offered here.

What this picture suggests is that any man, given the power, could use hypnosis to (snake)charm the ladies.

We have a gentleman’s hands floating in the air as his — how shall we say this — hypnotic gifts impress the woman in frame with him. Did she even realize she was being hypnotized?

We’ll never know. But the ad does promise that ‘it’s easy to hypnotize when you know how,” so we have to consider this a mission accomplished.

Jay Moon

22. A Woman Couldn't be Perfect Without a Man's Approval

Credits: Of course all of the finger pointing went in one direction in this ad for Lysol.

The fine folks behind the creation and marketing of Lysol thought that their common household cleaner might have more than one purpose around the home.

Considering it was primarily stay-at-home moms and wives who were responsible for keeping the house neat, tidy and sanitized, a little twist was put on Lysol’s abilities.

Lysol spun its additional uses in a variety of different ways, and though it states here ‘feminine hygiene,’ the ad is actually using code-speak for birth control.

Birth control was not an easy thing to come by in America until the mid-1960s. In especially meager times like the Great Depression, a product like Lysol (which was relatively cheap and available everywhere) was used to kill sperm. And it did just that. The thought may make you cringe, as it should.

Jay Moon

Source: Lysol’s Vintage Ads Subtly Pushed Women to Use Its Disinfectant as Birth Control

21. The Cleaner the Home, the Better the Home

Credits: Guys, buy this to make her happier and your abode cleaner.

There’s a great scene in the Steve Martin remake of Father of the Bride where his daughter considers breaking up with her fiancé because he bought her a blender for her birthday.

She’s in tears because she wonders whether this man she loves really wants her to be a domesticated housewife. This Hoover ad from 1953 reinforces her fear: “Christmas morning (and forever after), she’ll be happier with a Hoover.”

A dark-haired woman lays on the floor and lovingly caresses the bottom of a bright red vacuum cleaner as though it contained all her hopes and dreams in one electric-powered cleaning machine.

“She cares about her home, you know, so if you really care about her…wouldn’t it be a good idea to consider a Hoover for Christmas?”

The uncaring husbands bought their wives other cleaning and household appliances. It’s not like she cares about anything else!

Amber Healy

20. Heavy-Duty Innuendo

Credits: A bare bum being showcased with a bragging tagline about taking strain. Okay...

Here’s a pic that unfortunately doesn’t have much history available on it, but it’s still fun to attempt a few guesses as to who would put this out and why. For starters, where would it be published?

It’s hard to say if the intent of the ad’s message has been warped and twisted over time and perhaps started off quite innocently.

But then again, there’s no sign of the ‘all our products’ portion of the claim at the top, so is the ‘she’ being referenced the woman in the picture? It appears that way.

Without knowing exactly what it is that might be built to take the strain, having a naked woman’s bare bum and questionable phrasing can lead to an awkward chuckle.

Jay Moon

19. Subtle, Nuanced Sexism

Credits: "Dear." That last line just had to be in there to hammer home the point.

This one almost made it all the way through without any major issues around men thinking that women owe them something — in this case, a good stiff drink.

A beatnik-looking writer who might be in love with early-era Beatles sits in a funky minimalist chair with, of course, a typewriter in his lap. While he’s busy drafting the next great American novel, the command is issued (and we’re paraphrasing): “Get me a drink!”

Fill that in with how great the scotch in question is, and then wrap everything up with a neat little derisive bow: “So take your time with the drink, dear.”

It takes time for a good scotch to be made, so taking a couple of extra minutes bringing it to him isn’t the end of the world. Until he gets a case of writer’s block, frustration kicks in, and he drunkenly starts smashing glasses against the wall.

Jay Moon

18. Start 'em Young

Credits: Not sure if this more offensiv efor trying to get parents to but their kids guns or the insinuation that redheads are devil children.

“What Every Parent Should Know When a Boy or Girl Wants a Gun.” Thanks for the inside scoop, Winchester. And perhaps some small degree of credit for admitting girls do exist in the world of guns.

In the 1950s, gang violence generally didn’t involve guns. There weren’t updates on the news every day about mass shootings.

Parents were survivors of a recent war where guns were everywhere and training was completed, but it’s still a little shocking to see just how nonchalant dear old dad appears here handing over a rifle to his teenage son.

The helpful reminder to dad to pick up his own Winchester and ammo only adds to the bonding experience being put forth to consumers.

Jay Moon

17. Figures That Body Image Was Everything

Credits: Skinny girl bad. Bad girl good. Everyone point and laugh at skinny girl!!

If young men were deemed unmanly for being scrawny, it was even worse for young women. Skinny women were the inspiration for Popeye’s Olive Oyl, viewed as unattractive, unsexy, undesirable, unwanted.

Being too thin, as a woman in the mid-1900s, was drastic. This comic book-style ad, much like the Charles Atlas one for men, shows a woman with no curves walking on a beach as men talk to themselves about how unattractive she is.

Weeping, she returns home and another woman tells her about the magic of ironized yeast, promising it’ll plump her up in days!

After all, “an attractive, well-developed figure with all its feminine allure is a big contributing part to a girl’s happiness and success.” It also promises to clear up your skin! Here, success = having a man and being curvy.

Amber Healy

16. At Least They're Both Smiling

Credits: Let him make the big calls, like picking out a scale for the swing set.

Everything is equal in this household. C’mon — they’re sitting on perfectly balanced scales, so how could it not be?

Note the fella’s fantastically stylish long pants and overall natty attire, while the young lady beside him is all legs looking happy just to be there.

Both of these people have very important jobs to take care of in the Horton’s world, which the company graciously points out. The man will look after the very serious issues facing the world, like wars.

That leaves the woman to keep her place in the house and only fret over what furniture she’ll be spending her man’s money on. It’s like the perfect match made in sexist heaven.

Jay Moon

15. Back Then, Burly Men Stuck to the Mountains

Credits: We'll assert our authority while still looking stylish.

This advertisement literally begins with, “indoors women are useful.” Not much of a redeeming sentence after the bold title, “men are better than women.”

But, then we move down to the picture. We see two men standing on top of a rocky mountain holding a woman by a rope. She is desperately holding on, hoping the men don’t drop her as they tell each other “manly” jokes. The possibilities surrounding the nature of this ad are endless.

Surprisingly, it is an advertisement for Drummond sweaters. Somehow, two men dominating a “dame in distress” was an excellent way to market trendy, manly fashion.

Kassidy Brown

14. Doctor-Approved Cigarettes

Credits: If Doc Happy recommended them, why wouldn't everyone want to partake in a puff or six?

As word began to creep out that cigarette smoking might be harmful to people, tobacco companies really started to play up the angle of doctors enjoying their products as much as the average joe on the street.

It’s a classic case of the gang mentality put into full effect and peer pressure from a profession most people respected.

The ad has the screaming headline of ‘More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette!’, which is probably all most consumers needed to read. Everything else on the page would have just been an added bonus for the Camel folks if someone took the time to read through it all.

It all combines for guilt-free smoking pleasure, with assurances if you were to keel over from a smoking-induced heart attack your doc would meet you at the hospital with a lit Camel hanging out of their mouth.

Jay Moon

13. The Foul Stench of Frigidity

Credits: The world revolved around men back then. Or at least that's what advertisers kept telling people.

Wow, could women do anything right? So many ads in the early 1900s, up through the 1950s it seems, really schooled women about how disgusting their bodies were.

They didn’t clean, they didn’t brush their teeth, they didn’t properly sanitize every orifice and inch of bare skin to avoid offending their men. Didn’t they have health education classes in high schools back then?

Of course a husband would be cold to his wife is she smelled like she hadn’t flushed her vagina with bacteria-killing products. Why wouldn’t he? And how dare she not consider his approval and pleasure and comfort level?

“Isn’t it a shame when a woman doesn’t realize how important it is to always put ZONITE in her fountain syringe? Failure to practice hygiene (internal cleanliness) often results in such needless tragedies — homes broken up, few social invitations, the feeling of being shunned without knowing why.” Ladies, if your husband doesn’t love you, it’s because you’re emitting natural odors. SHAME!

Amber Healy

12. Sex in the Sky

Credits: Delta made sure their male passengers knew they'd have a selection booze, sandwiches and eye candy.

In the early days of commercial air travel, only women were hired to serve as flight attendants or stewardesses.

By the 1970s, these ladies of the air were openly touted as eye candy, as cute little things there to be ogled and pinched as they passed out drinks and weird-tasting dinners.

This Delta ad puts it plain and simple: Our stewardesses are sexy, so you should fly with us. The ad says the company’s stewardesses “personify the spirit of Delta… happy to have you aboard and proud to be of service.”

What kind of service, exactly? In short skirts, tight tops and high heels while 35,000 feet above the ground, with smiles plastered onto their faces.

This is the era of “Coffee, Tea or Me?”, a book published in 1967 that complied stories from stewardesses into a fictionalized memoir and caused quite the scandal.

Amber Healy

11. Ghost Cramps, Man-Style

Credits: Of course he suffered. You can't argue with the logic presented here.

Ah, yes. Men suffering through their wives’ menstrual cramps. It is a monthly occurrence that can be completely debilitating to men, because, y’know — watching a loved one struggle with pain so bad they can’t fix them a scotch on the rocks really, really cramps…a guy’s style.

After the story of this gentleman’s married life turning into a quest for relief for both he and his wife, he’s finally thrilled to find a solution that brings back the woman he first married. We’re hoping this only means she didn’t suffer cramps back then, and not that he married anyone far, far, FAR too young to ever get married.

Jay Moon

10. Only My Shoes Are Racist

Credits: What's the advertising narrative here? You tell us.

The Fashion Publicity Company uses the very eye-catching headline “Coloured Kids Make a Costume Vastly More Attractive” in an ad for ankle boots from the early 1900s.

The ad shows a woman in fine clothes, down to her silk elbow-length gloves and elegant feathered hat, squealing in fright about a mouse in front of her, with two small African American children behind her.

The ad is for women’s boots made from kidskin –leather made from the hide of a young goat – but the use of those children in the same ad could almost suggest a much more sinister kind of accessory, one that would’ve been much more acceptable and en vogue during slavery.

Amber Healy

9. The Teeth-Whitening Spider Web

Credits: If you don't have fresh breath and a white smile, you lose your man. It says so right here.

According to the words of wisdom shared here in this advert for Chlorodent, men are always on the prowl for attractive women. It’s what they’re programmed to do, after all.

The result of these all natural urges? It’s the job of his wife or girlfriend to make sure they keep their mouth clean.

To give the ladies some assurances that a Chlorodent-fresh kiss is the way to go to keep their man happy, there’s a note stating: The attractive women he meets during the day don’t have it.

We’re guessing the spider web is the visual representation of a woman being able to snare her man with just one brushing, but what if the woman pictured here is a single lady on the prowl for a man of her own? And that man could be someone’s husband who also uses Chlorodent? The universe might explode.

Jay Moon

8. Pink — the Anti-Football Color

Credits: Men might be goofballs and goots, but they still get to watch football while the lady of the house does her job shopping.

Oh, poor women. Every fall, they lose their husbands and boyfriends to football. Clearly, they wouldn’t have any interest in it! Sports are for BOYS! Tami Reid, a department store on the Hempstead Turnpike on Long Island, really wanted to drive home the fact that women didn’t have anything better to do on Sundays than lament to other women about their husbands and boyfriends watching the big game.

They took out a pink ad, in pink font on a pink background, to remind women of their true calling on Sundays: Shopping! It tries to be flattering, saying these women are “exquisite” creatures who know about “girl things. Like cooking. And sewing. And smelling nice. And looking in mirrors.”

Leave the Sundays to the men and their beer while you go off and make yourself more attractive to him when he’s not paying attention to “overgrown goots.” Even better, “He’ll never know you’re gone.”

Amber Healy

7. Blowing Smoke

Credits: Good thing there was always a seductive woman sitting down to hold onto the ashtray back then.

It’s a running joke now that doctors used to feature in cigarette commercials. It’s embarrassing now, but there was something sexy and powerful and smart about smoking in early decades of the 20th century. Plus, if you smoked, you were inherently cool. The coolest!

This ad plays that up while also reinforcing that women needed to have a man in their lives. A pretty woman in a revealing dress is kneeling before a man in a sharp suit.

She’s facing away from him, holding up an ashtray. He holds in his hand a smoking cigar. “Cigar smokers start young and stay young… very important for girls with long range plans,” the ad says.

The Cigar Institute of America also notes that women know, inherently, that cigar smokers will treat their women “tenderly, affectionately, appreciatively,” just like they treat their cigars. That line about starting young and staying young could maybe hint at a shorter lifespan thanks to cancer, but it’s probably a nod to the double standard that men get better with age while women just…get…older.

Amber Healy

6. Racial Stereotypes to Make a Point

Credits: Go through the checklist of the public's perception of the time about what First Nation's people were like and you'll find every one of them here.

Where to even begin here. This ad for the Canadian Patriotic Fund hits a lot of pain points. It’s beautifully drawn, true, but it’s ugly. We see a First Nations man in what we’ve been taught is traditional dress: braided hair with a feather in the back, a printed cloak wrapped around his shoulders.

Behind him, in a teepee, is his family, also in buckskin clothing; one person is cooking in a pot over a fire while two others are getting out of a canoe.

The main “character” in the ad says that though he has dark skin, “My heart is white,” as though a person’s heart changes based on the color of their skin.

He’s sending money into the Canadian Patriotic Fund, but with all we know how about residential schools, the treatment of First Nations people on their reserves and how their land has been stolen from them for centuries, why would they support anything from the government? To say nothing of the stereotypical broken language used here, which is possibly the least offensive part of this ad.

Amber Healy

5. Body Shaming Isn't Just for Adults

Credits: If your girl weighed more than the other kids the makers of Chubettes had all the answers.

For a long time, clothing companies had cute names for children who were slightly bigger than their friends. Boys were “husky” or “stocky,” words that implied animal strength or being robust and sturdy. Girls, on the other hand, were just plain chubby.

This ad reminds us that there was a whole line of clothes named just that, and that girls who had a few extra pounds needed special help to be cute.

“If your favorite little girl is on the plump side, dress her in Chubbettes and see her blossom into a lovely lass — as happy and self-assured as her slimmer schoolmates.” Slightly overweight girls can’t be happy or self-confident, you see.

The company even offers a handy little free booklet “for parents of a chubby girl” to help them “understand… her problems” and teach her “the ‘game’ of dieting.” Chubbettes, from L. Gidding & Co., sold “at stores that care.”

Amber Healy

4. The Carbonated Baby Pleaser

Credits: "7-Up is so pure, so wholesome..." Already that's stretching it (a lot), so giving it babies is just icing on the cake.

The cute, chubby-cheeked baby in this ad for 7-Up is seven months old, according to the text. At that age, he might be getting his first tooth, maybe his second.

He’s just starting on solid foods. Maybe he’s starting to crawl around, trying to find his way from one corner of the room to the next, looking for things to get into and put in his mouth.

So, sure, let’s give him some overly sugared, carbonated and artificially flavored water! “7-Up is so pure, so wholesome, you can even give it to babies and feel good about it,” the ad says, touting its ingredient list right there on the bottle for mom to read.

It even suggests mixing 7-Up with milk for babies who won’t drink their bottles. There’s even a little toy lamb right there next to the bottle. Lambs are safe and wholesome and cuddly and totally meant for babies!

Amber Healy

3. Another Beer, Dear?

Credits: Schlitz wanted to ensure people that even if a woman went and ruined the evening's meal, salvation could still be found with a beer.

The happy housewife of the 1950s and early 1960s had so much to do while her darling husband was at work. When the man of the house came home, dinner was expected on the table because he’d worked so hard all day, and don’t you love him?

A good wife cooked, although it was a common butt of jokes that some women were unable to do so. This ad features a man in a suit consoling his teary wife about yet another ruined meal.

The burner on the stove is still red with heat, there’s some kind of mess dripping on the front of the pure-white appliance and a smoking pan in her hand. But fear not!

“Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer!” Schlitz thought it would be a good idea for Husband of the Year to drink away his problems. Or maybe the company wants the wife to wallow in alcohol for being such a lousy cook. Either way, the beer’s safe! Have a nice cold one and all will be divine.

Amber Healy

2. The 'Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink' Sales Tactic

Credits: It's not like the Makers of Jade East aftershave were coming right out and saying it, right? Right?

This ad is the 1970s sexism and racism in a nutshell. A woman with long black hair and almond-shaped eyes in an incredibly short green dress, thigh-high white go-go boots looks imploringly at the camera while standing next to a bottle of Jade East aftershave.

Her dress barely covers the top of her thighs. Barely. And the tagline is a blatant double entendre: “If she doesn’t give it to you, get it yourself!”

Sure, it could be as simple as men should buy their own aftershave if the wife or girlfriend doesn’t thoughtfully pick it up at the store or give it as a gift.

But the way the woman’s standing, and the look on her face, coupled with the phrasing, seems to imply something far more sinister. If she’s not taking off that barely-there dress, just go get it! You’re a man, the world is yours for the taking.

Amber Healy

1. Washing Away the Respect for Other People

Credits: Using kids in racist adverts still doesn't make the ad okay.

Pear’s Soap was founded in 1783, according to this ad’s fine print. The United States was barely a country at that point. Slavery was still a thing for almost another 100 years.

The company was based in the United Kingdom, where there remains a kind of hierarchy of classes. Even within that context, this ad is awful.

It suggests that using Pear’s Soap can make an African American child white. As though, once again, skin color is something that can – and should — be washed off, something to be ashamed of, something to change.

That a person with black or dark skin should want nothing more to be white and all it takes to make that transformation is a good scrubbing.

People were just the worst. Look at the smile in the second image! This poor child looks astonished and delighted to have been “cleansed” of their blackness.

Amber Healy