Exploring being female (for that's what we are) in a world of media myths, publishing incompetence, and marketing madness -- as well as the female submission and subscription to those messages.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Free Marie Claire!

Nope, she's not in a can with Prince Albert *wink*

ShopItToMe (which you should totally join, if you haven't -- it's a tailor-made daily personal shopper that doesn't babble on-and-on or eat your cake but just quietly delivers to your email inbox alerts about sales on your fav fashions and in your fav stores) is celebrating the finale of Running In Heels by giving away one-year subscriptions to Marie Claire Magazine.

To enter just leave a comment here at ShopItToMe's post with what you consider to be the greatest office fashion faux-pas! (You don't have to have been watching the show; just use your noodle and rant!)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The New Pathway to Slenderness, 1938

This vintage booklet, The New Pathway to Slenderness, intrigued me right from the start.

Upon first glance, it was a simple weight loss booklet; page one made that clear:

Being beautiful isn't easy! To acquire and keep a lovely, youthful figure requires the combined effort of a correct diet, scientifically planned exercise and the gentle, yet efficient aid of a good rubber reducing garment.

...Don't be told that sweat baths, drugs or pills will reduce you healthfully and sanely.

...All women from the "should be trim twenties" to the "fatal forties" and even along into the later, or "golden years," are entitled to and can have a well-proportioned graceful figure. Classic beauty of facial features, lovely hands, any individual beauty asset, means nothing without health and vitality. A beautiful body, sparkling eyes, clear skin and real vitality are by far more important than regular features. Physical fitness, unhampered by those extra pounds, will give you charm and attractiveness and will increase your "earning" power whether your work be at home or in the office. So let's stop being lazy! Stop wishing for good looks when you can have them by making the effort yourself!

But here we were, past the cover and we still didn't know who put out this publication... Was it the makers/purveyors of "correct diets," "scientifically planned exercise" programs or "gentle, yet efficient rubber reducing garments?"

All I had to go on, so far was the booklet numbers (F9623 5-28-38) which, while possibly supporting my guess that the booklet dates to the 1930's (years of ephemera dating has helped me learn that part of the booklet code can contain the year printed; in this case "38"), still didn't give me a clue as to the publisher or product pusher...

Ah, but then we get to pages four & five, pushing Sears reducing corsets -- complete with customer testimonial.

That's pretty impressive; a promotional booklet which doesn't cram the product down your throat right away. But then again, it's pretty clear that all the care and concern for health and appearance is fear mongering to sell stuff. Just like today, it's ad copy designed to first sell women that they need to worry, feel unworthy, and then, when they are worried they aren't "earning enough," there's products galore to buy. Sears to the rescue!

The majority of the book has the usual height & weight charts, spot exercises, calorie tables & menu suggestions, plus cautionary tips about "violent exercises," the proper rate at which you should lose weight, etc. But, despite being told not to trust that "sweat baths, drugs or pills will reduce you healthfully and sanely," there are early representations of advertorials for other Sears products, like the "Knead-Away" Massager -- "the massager which kneads the flesh away like the trained fingers of an expert masseur."

(OMG, where there really once masseurs who could "knead away the flesh" -- or where folks confusing masseurs with E. coli?)

Anyway, it appears the "Knead-Away" Massager was made by The Conley Company, Inc. of Rochester, Minnesota -- at least the Conley Hemp Knead-Away Massager shown here complete with original box and ephemera -- I'm dizzy with desire! -- looks like the illustrations in this booklet. (Note to seller: Why ya usin' pointy fishing lure background for a massager?)

PS This seller has a copy of The New Pathway to Slenderness dated June, 1939.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mis-Selling To Americans

Because I enjoyed it so much, let's hear about the idiocy, ageism, and discrimination of media and advertising from one of the last episodes of Boston Legal, Juiced (Season 5, Episode 11).

Carl Sack (John Larroquette) in court, presenting a case to Judge Clark Brown (Henry Gibson), on the behalf of client Catherine Piper (the delicious Betty White):

Carl Sack: Your Honor, there may have been a time when it made practical business sense to exclude the old. But not today. Americans over fifty make up the fastest-growing market.

Attorney Jeremy Hollis: It's about money! Not how many-

Carl Sack: Really? Gee! Who would ever have guessed that? The baby boomers, now all over fifty, earn two trillion in annual income. That's trillion!

Attorney Jeremy Hollis: Madison Avenue is after discretionary spending.

Carl Sack: Yes, and people over fifty account for half of that too. Choose your statistic. Go ahead. I've got you. We've got more money. We spend more money. We watch more television, go to more movies. We buy more CDs than young people do. And yet we're the focus of less than ten percent of the advertising. All the networks wanna do is skew younger. Kid's shows for kids. You know, the ony show unafraid to have its stars over fifty is Bo.. (He stops himself.) Gee, I can't say it... (He looks and points directly into the camera) ...it would break the wall.

Judge Clark Brown: Mr. Suck!

Carl Sack: It's still Sack.

Judge Clark Brown: I can't tell the networks what shows to make!

Carl Sack: No. But you can order them not to discriminate! What they're doing, it intentionally excludes a class of society. That's bigotry. You know, we should be able to turn on our damn televisions and see something other than reality shows aimed at fourth graders. Game shows aimed at those slightly smarter than fifth graders. And scripted shows with dim-witted, sex-crazed twenty-somethings running around in suits or doctor scrubs. Old people, the ones with intelligence, don't wanna watch that crap! We're fed up! You know the networks might think we're dead! But we're not! We're very much alive, with working brains! Give me something to watch dammit!
Later, Carl catches his client speaking inappropriately with the judge and there's this juicy bit about television:
Carl Sack: Uh, you know Judge, in addition to there being little for us to watch, most of it stinks. (He pulls out his cell phone.) And it's partly this thing's fault.

Judge Clark Brown: What are you talking about?

Carl Sack: Well, a lot of people are on it. While they're watching. They no longer give television their undivided attention. We're either on the phone or texting. Or on the internet. So the producers, they dumb down the plots. Make it easier to keep up with while their viewers multitask.

Judge Clark Brown: Really?

Carl Sack: Kids nowadays watch an average of three hours of television a day. That's while being distracted! People over fifty-five, we watch six hours a day, and we really watch! So why aren't they programming for us? You know what? Do these idiots a favor, Judge. Send these network bozos a clue. Be a leader. We can't wait for Congress after all. Because... well they're bozos too.
The judge's verdict:
Judge Clark Brown: At first this case was like every other case brought by this ridiculous law firm. Ridiculous and outrageous. But I can't ignore ageism is one of the last socially condoned bigotries. And it is rampant in this broadcast network business. They consider those of us over fifty to be irrelevant! How is it possible that we are not even a part of the target demo when we watch the most television and spend the most money? My God! There are eighty-seven million of us and that number will grow by thirty-one million more by 2020. Are you telling me that it doesn't make sense to make television shows that we want to watch? If I am to assume that the industry is not run by a bunch of idiots, then I can only conclude that it's dominated by prejudice. This case stands. (Pounds gavel.) Adjourned.
Oh how I miss my Boston Legal.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Vintage Cosmetics & Beauty Accessories: Not Taken At Face Value"

I feel really weird making this post, but here it is: Pink Populace Paparazzi Parade Exposé makes ink because I, Deanna Dahlsad, was interviewed for a feature article in the March 2009 issue of Collectors News magazine.

It began with an email from Stephanie Finnegan, monthly columnist for Collectors News:

I enjoy reading your work at COLLECTORS QUEST, and would like to invite you to be the subject of an upcoming magazine profile.

My topic is "accessories and beauty," and I know from your writing that you are very articulate about these two topics, particularly in how they have been aimed at, and for, women.

Would you like to be the subject of my column?
Such a flattering request, how could I refuse? (Even when a photo of myself would be required! *Ugh*)

So there I am, in the "Collector's Spotlight" titled Vintage Cosmetics & Beauty Accessories: Not Taken At Face Value, covering two pages (24-25) in text with some photos of my collection. Just pages away from Wes Cowan (he's going to get a restraining order, I swear!)

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article (and boy is it weird to quote myself).

How I began collecting in this area -- after falling in love with Marilyn Monroe and vintage Hollywood glamour:
There are few things as romantic as beauty products. They reveal such intimacy, both physically & emotionally. They connect you to women who have lived and dreamed before you. For example, take a tube of lipstick once tucked into a flapper's garter for late night reapplication on precise & lovely red lips. That woman once felt all the same hopeful excitement I used to feel going out -- and likely the same disappointment and rejection too. To hold that tube is to feel a connection across time.
How I began to look at things after feminism hit me:
I started to see the makeup as something more sinister. It was used to cover imperfections. Was that from the false perceptions formed of insecurities, or was it because of the violent bruising of abuse? Was it applied so that the world would see the 'brave, acceptable' face, or was it just a mask? Did we choose to put it on, or were we made to?

...I slowly started to work from one end of the continuum to the other. I still bought pretty pinup stuff and beauty products, but I continued to explore feminism in the text and the objects. I hoped my collecting and my research would meet, someday, in some middle truth.
On why I continue to collect and explore "beauty" and look at it in the constructs of culture and advertising:
Glamour is, after all, a noun defined as 'a charm affecting the eye, making objects appear different from what they really are.' It is also a verb, meaning to cast a spell over someone or something. We women use glamour to be attractive to potential mates, and to society in general for health and productivity is important to the whole group. The notion that there are biological components to beauty -- and that we'd dare to manipulate them to our advantage -- is political. And it is not so easily admitted. Humans like to believe they are not in any way animals. However, there's also a cultural overlay to the biology. How are women to behave? What is her role? What does the proper woman look like? It's a 'nature versus nurture battle' of beauty and gender roles.
But it's Finnegan's own words about my viewpoints and my "collecting acumen" which make me blush the most:
Dahlsad is a touchstone of where women have been, what they wore, and how they carried themselves to get there. She is a historian of how powder puffs and nail polish have both ensnared and enshrined the image of womankind.
Good heavens, I think I'm getting the vapors!

(Or maybe that's my head expanding.)

All photos of me and my stuff were taken by hubby, including the cover, so he's pretty stoked to "make a cover" too. *wink*

The only disappointment is that the article doesn't directly mention Collectors' Quest, which is where Finnegan found me. I feel bad about that. So I now direct you there, to see these specific articles which likely (I'm guessing) are where Finnegan found me to be "articulate".

Vanity Collectibles

True Confessions Of True Confessions

Collecting Female Uniforms: Vintage Aprons

Pick A Shelf, Any Shelf: Collections In Context & Construction

The More Things Change… Vintage Women’s Publications

Old Etiquette Books: How To Be A More Interesting Woman

And, when I have time, I'll add more photos to My Vintage Makeup & Beauty Stuff Collection in the CQ community.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fashion Straight-Jacket

Via Rasmusmogensen.com.

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