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New Years' 1890
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What were the New Year's Resolutions like in 1890-91?

If you think there is any rhyme or reason to our current fashions, take a look at this ad from the turn of the previous century.  Apparently it is an ad for a San Francisco store's product to save young ladies from the shame of being too thin.  The lyrics change but the song ("Your Body isn't Good Enough") stays the same!  

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Reader Comments over the years:

"This is great! I get SO TIRED of being bombarded by media messages of THIN THIN THIN as the only way to be a happy, desirable woman these days. Especially when I and most of the women I know typically gain weight with age and the struggle to lose weight becomes more and more difficult with time. While I think that promoting ONE FIGURE TYPE as the best is definitely wrong, it is refreshing to remember that fleshiness has been and can be appreciated as a beautiful thing."

"My first reaction is that it is nice for an ample woman like myself to see herself idealized. 
My second reaction is that, as was mentioned, it is at the cost of another person's self-esteem. 
When are we going to evolve to the next developmental stage and accept all the different body forms as beautiful?"

"I think that's neat!! I wish guys would think that way now!!!"

"What a terrific example of how culturally defined our images of beauty are! Thanks for bringing it back to me!"

"Wow, times sure have changed. Now, even though Hollywood is having all these stories on women who are too thin, nothing will happen.  They will still be in leading roles in big box-office movies." 

"Humans are totally nuts no matter what century they live in! We should all have more important things to worry about."

"I wish that this ad was dated January 2000." 

"Oh if it were possible to go back to those good ol' days! When women of size were appreciated and not scorned! It would be heaven! galatea"

"That's awesome! Damn, that would have been a sweet life to live back then!"

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"I guess it's good to see what any intelligent woman already knows - manipulation has always been the root of advertising. Being comfortable (mostly/most times!) with my size 18-20
body, I find it sickening to see how many women abuse themselves to
reach an "ideal" size. We should all concentrate on doing those things
to keep ourselves HEALTHY (exercise, nutritionally sound diets, meditation, etc.), instead
of focusing on a very small part of who we are as humans. Ladies,
RESPECT YOURSELVES. As yes, Black men who are REAL men know the
treasures we are!!"

"This ad illustrates something that came to me this morning. I am a novelist who is struggling with the idea of making the main character fat. I've thought and thought about it and am having a hard time doing this because there are no role models in novels of women who are fat and happy and fall in love. None in movies, none in TV. I began to wonder about Jane Austen's main characters. Was Elizabeth Bennett fat? What about Emma? They were not if we are to believe the movies made of these books. And I'm not so sure that I imagined them fat. This is an epiphany for me. That "fleshiness" was considered beautiful."

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"The trends surrounding body image have fluctuated tremendously, as the above ad proves. However, the age of the ad aside, it proves that objectification of women has existed a lonnnnng time. We need to work on eradicating this kind of thinking."

"Of course, I'd rather see this type of ad than looking at anorexic models, but it still defines women based upon a cultural ideal rather than their strengths and accomplishments."

"Thanks for bringing this ad to our attention. It brings this insanity into perspective for me and many other!!!"

"I am PROUD of my Botecelli body!"

"Trust me, many Black and Hispanic men have already figured this out."

"Where are the cookies?"

"I wish we could all just forget about weight and realize everyone is beautiful no matter how thin, fat or whatever!"

"It's nice to know that anorexic marketing was not always in charge of advertising. As refreshing as it is to see an ad such as this, I am sadly reminded of how women can never be satisfied with the body they have. We are forced to feel badly it we have too much or not enough. The acceptance of body diversity is the ammunition we need to fight this battle."

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"It just goes to show that the weight game women (and to some extent, men) have been losing all these decades didn't start overnight. We, as a society, must reject what ever 'ideal image' (thin or 'plump') the media and the fashion industry throws at us. We shouldn't stand by and let our children (and our children's children) suffer the same untruths about size we (and previous generations) have. We have to demand that this stop before we have another generation of adults who are overly concerned about their weight and size."

"This is amazing. How wonderful that, once upon a time, more was better. But how disheartening that the media has told us what our bodies should look like for so long. Thank you for posting this. I don't know if I should laugh or cry."

"Every woman should be able to find her body type idealized in fashion magazines, movies etc. (but I guess that's not good business!) according to this, I could afford to gain a few pounds! I haven't felt this good since I first walked into a plus-size store and realized everything came in my size and BIGGER - it's so nice to feel beautiful just the way I am."

"So, HOW often does history repeat itself??? Just kidding - I can see how it's only another manifestation of the same social illness."

"Somebody print this and send it to Posh Spice!"

"That's among the first adverts with plump women in it that has ever made me feel good about being fat."

"wow that was amazing to see that ad. I am shocked. Back then being plump was something to be desired. WELL THAT IS GOOOOOD!!!"

"I don't know about anyone else, but fat is where it's at, in any date or time. My husband agrees."

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"Oddly, Even this archive depicts unacceptance of ones body. It promotes the idea that whatever you look like right now, it's wrong and you should look better. Gain weight, lose weight, firm up, slim down. I am an actress/performer and in this business women are battered and bruised by producers, agents, and their piers ideals of what is physically beautiful and "correct". Even though I still get off track in my thinking nearly every day concerning how I view my body, one thing always brings me back to a real sense of truth. I do volunteer work for the United Way in my area. I witness a lot of unfortunate yet amazing individuals with mental and physical disabilities. On my refrigerator is a picture of myself with a young girl named Jennie who lost both legs in a serious accident. She is full of life and vigor, and despite her disability, she embraces life and the gift that it is to be alive. When I'm standing in the clothing store dressing room obsessing about my body and h!
ow much I wish my legs were longer, tanner, or thinner almost to the point of tears from the personal disgust, I think of Jennie. Here I am healthy and attractive and still complaining about my body, and she who dose not even have legs finds it possible to celebrate the blessing of her own existence. Suddenly, I imagine myself without legs and if I would cope like Jennie. I am able then to look at my body and say, "Wow. I really am beautifully and wonderfully made." Let's stop obsessing about ourselves and begin to see the beauty that is in others. When we do, the love and acceptance we bestow will then come full circle to enable us to see the real beauty of our own bodies and within our own souls."

"What about Old famous paintings--fat was definitely womanly-sexy and the figure to be desired was fleshy not skin and bones--how refreshing!"

"Fat or skinny, I want a girl who is comfortable with her own body regardless of the size of her butt, waist or breasts. Also in the package is intelligence and a good sense of humour."

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"Gee isn't it interesting that a mere hundred years later it's the same ad but reversed!"

"As I read this ad, I was sad to find that as women make advances in society (jobs, independence, etc.), they have to be knocked down again by having to submit to some ideal body image. I am short, so no matter how thin I become, I will never have long legs. Let's celebrate our diversity rather than try to make everyone conform to the same standard of beauty."

"Clearly, if we incorporated the same view today, more women than not would be considered the standard of beauty. Most women I know are at least a size 14 and larger, hence, this standard seems normal!"

"I wish that times were still like that, but without having to make thinness look bad. I wish everyone was equal. Whether you be fat, slim, black, white, gay, straight, bi, male or female you were accepted and respected just as much as the other. It's so funny how back then they were making different formula's to make you plump, now, only a 110 years later they make formula's and create diets to make you THIN. Very strange."

"I've heard that larger bodies used to be in style but what a hoot to actually see an ad the promotes being larger! I LOVE IT!"

"I thought this picture was so great, I had it framed and it hangs over my dressing table mirror."

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"What makes this ad, which makes thin women feel inferior, any better than the "thin thin thin" ads the media now portrays, which you all hate? You're being hypocritical!"

"What happened? Why is today's fashionable women need to be so frail and thin? Seeing an ad like this one, I cannot believe being "fat" was fashionable and beautiful (although refreshing to see!).."

"I think it is funny...Not funny ha-ha, but funny ironic...The fat woman used to be such a sex-symbol due to our vigour and spunk, and now we are berated for being fat...Told we have no vigour or spunk, and no right to have it...I'd like to show this to anyone who has a fat-chick problem, and say, "So, society's evolved, eh?" 

"It makes me pause. It seems like a very old tradition to make money off of women's bodies! Today they tell us "get thin, buy our product" but they were telling earlier generations of our very own families "get fat, buy our product"!!! It seems endless! Like this consumer society is just determined to make money off our bodies. Wow, this has really pushed my buttons in a way I didn't think it would. Thanks!"

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"I love this ad - is there a way to get a printed copy of it - to remind us just how bizarre the current dieting before and after pictures are. (Half the time, I think the before pictures look better in those ads.)"

"Women's bodies are only beautiful when they are their natural size. I have seen beautiful thin women, who after gaining weight due to illness, were no longer beautiful, and beautiful large women, who, after loosing weight, were skin and bones. If the media wants to promote a "perfect" woman she should in good shape, whatever her size, and be well groomed. These are things that are not only possible for most to achieve, they are healthy things to strive for."

"What struck me was that the supposedly "thin" woman would still be considered "fat" in this day and age. It seems that women must continue to strive for an ideal body type no matter what the century!"

"oh my god. how i wish i was born in the right time! but seriously, i know that i have lots more energy than some thin sisters. i am working toward loving my body more. when i went to my massage therapist the other day, in the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he had a teenaged client who had "an athletic build" like mine, and how strong and vital she was. i felt so good, i had forgotten that my masseuse would know what muscles i use and don't use!"

"I think people should stop telling the world how they should look--fat or thin."

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"it seems unbelievable, but i know its true, that once upon a time women, and even men and children, were considered not only attractive, but also a sign of wealth, health, and prosperity if they were 'plump'. Even the renaissance paintings of the baby jesus and mary show a plump baby and mother. Boticelli really made this stand out. The 20's girlish look came in, then the well rounded but slim look of the 30's and 40's, and then the buxom 50's, and then Twiggy, and the 60's look. for a while the models of the 70' and 80's were filling out, and now we have the starvation people again. The only 2 famous women who's body' i really admire are streisand, who always had that pear shape, and madonna who as a dancer has always been into fitness more than diet. oh, i guess i would have to say Sarah Ferguson, duchess of york, because she proved to me at least that either fat or thin, her personality is lovely. i loved her both ways. i can't be jennifer aniston, will never look like gwenneth, and will never be Diana. But it would be nice to accept that i can be me. i constantly tell myself even marilyn monroe was a l6, who lifted weights, and didn't really love herself. loving yourself, that's what this is about, not what the diet doctors, or the dept of health says. 
This is a great ad, and shows us what we need to remember. fad, fantasy, and truth. Are they, advertisers, pushing the propaganda, or are we, the consumers, buying it?" 

"Cool! I guess back then I would have been considered beautiful gorgeous and probably a little TOO THIN!!!!!!!!"

"We are constantly being pressured to look a certain way (thin or fat) 
for men and I really hate! So what if Ally Mcbeal looks thin and so 
what if Rosie O'Donald is a little on the heavy side. Who are we trying
to please?"

"That is absolutely awesome. Women were made to be beautiful, full bubbly figures with elegant,exciting personalities flowing through their veins unlike the timid "can't eat anything without my personal trainer there" actresses we have on TV nowdays. We need not to judge based on body size because we are all gorgeous, exquisite goddesses who deserve only the best."

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"I am so thrilled to see this. It reminds me that the job of media is to make you buy things, and the best way to make you buy things is to tell you that you are inadequate the way you are.
It made me wonder--"is there a fundamental difference between telling a woman she is too thin and telling her she is too fat?"
It is the same in the sense that she is made to feel like she is all wrong; but I think that telling her she is too fat and encouraging her to waste herself away is closer to telling her that she should not even exist. We do not hear that we need to be more vibrant and lively. We hear that we need to be less. It is a twisted reality, and I am reaching every day to break free."


"It is an old and insidious message that this ad points out; we are not good enough the way we are.  It makes me think that in this patriarchal society, the power of women is feared, and so to defray it we are subtly fed this message all of our lives to keep us distracted and our self esteem low. Think of how much energy we've spent over the course of our lives directing loathing at parts of our own bodies when that energy should be focused outward, righting society's wrongs.
I for one, refuse to participate in this anymore."

"Although some women might like this ad better than the ads we see today, it's still an example of prejudice. People should accept people the way they are, fat or thin, black or white, Jewish or Christian, Hispanic or American or anything else, instead of trying to change them!"

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"People are saying this is the same as today's ads idealising stick-thin figures, but the difference is the body type shown here is average. Most women would see themselves - which is probably why the ideal changed - women who feel beautiful the way they are don't spend money on this stuff. The more unattainable the ideal, the more women will spend."

"I was shocked to realize my first thought on seeing these pictures was "Yecch, she�s fat..." (the one on the right), while I considered the other woman "normal". I�m filled with almost horror, I�m about the same size as the woman on the right and would be really hurt if someone saw me that way! Yet, that�s what I unconsciously and sometimes even consciously think of my body... And I LOVE my body! I really do! I have learned how to listen to it�s needs and how to feel physically in control, as well as mentally. And yet, I let something as trivial as my weight have such an influence on me... I�m ashamed to say I sometimes think very negatively of other "plump" women as well... We are so twisted by this culture, aren�t we? (By the way, I�m not american)"

"What an amazing thing to find on the eve of the first day of the new millenium, as well as my first kiss... THANK YOU! "

"Anything to make a buck and it hasn't changed in all that time."

"Thank you for sharing this! I printed it out, and will keep in over my computer!
I write romance novels with Big Beautiful Heroines, and am trying to do my part to help this look become acceptable again.
Pat Ballard"

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"The average American diet nowadays is probably good at what this ad promises...all the poor folks ate back then was veggies, according to stories from my elderly great grandmothers. The men got the good stuff, ie the meat, the butter, the pies, etc etc. So be it. I'm in the middle of thin and fat, but still get offended by "can't be too thin" type media. God bless the 40-inch hip!"

"Ah, to have lived then. I am amazed when I hear girls discussing their size ZERO clothes. What is size zero???? I will never make my daughters feel like they need to be on diets, so that they can be thin. How attractive are those anorexic, pale, frail models? Not very. Beauty definitely comes from the inside, and people are attracted to someone who is self-confident, happy and glad to BE themselves."

"I have a feeling that ad is or was a joke -- at best an exaggeration. I've seen other ads and images from that time period and, sorry to say, they liked their girls skinny then too. Wasp-waists were in -- this was the era of CORSETS, people. Thanks but no thanks for the hoax."

"That ad looks suspiciously modern to me. Nice try, though."

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"Hello! Can you imagine how powerful women would be in this country if they stopped wasting their time and energy with how they look and eat, and worked on their professional, intellectual, creative and spiritual development? Perhaps in the past, beauty was important so that a woman could find a husband, get married and have babies. Since we have changed this cultural viewpoint, woman's beauty today (thin and muscular) represents strength, power, achievement, independence! And yet, by pursuing these qualities only for "our bodies", we end up not being able to pursue these positive qualities for ourselves, and in essence we give back all the power that we as women have earned this century back to the culture. Perhaps the outcome of all this advertising is that women are so preoccupied that they cannot get ahead! I have always wanted to be a singer/songwriter but have been told to "get in shape" and "lose some weight" so much that I am afraid to go out and perform! What a perfect way to quiet my voice. I never thought about it that way. This website is a blessing. Thank You! "

"If I had lived back then, men would have been throwing diamonds at me ... "

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