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.

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.


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