My, how the times have changed! As I was searching for an obituary that I forgot to write the source notes for, I came across this advertisement in the San Francisco Call, 9 January 1910:
The start of the ad tells you everything you need to know about the different philosophy predominant in 1910 on body weight:
“Nature never intended anyone to be thin, it is an unnatural condition.”
And, this product was marketed towards women!
The product, “Dr. Whitney’s Flesh Builder”. It boasts “remarkable results”, adding flesh to your whole body. It will also add 2 to 6 inches to your breast size.
The product came with a 15 day trial period. All you had to do was send 10 cents for return mail. It was sure to give you a bigger bust and well rounded neck, shoulders, and limbs. For some reason, this will increase your vitality and add to your personal magnetism.
I find the use of the word “vitality” is this advertisement interesting. My Grandma was born in 1912. She used this word often when discussing people’s health. She was give such advice as eating more meat to increase your vitality. Vitality must have been something that people at the turn of the century desired very much.
I wonder what was included in this flesh building cure? Nowhere in the ad does it list the ingredients.
These old advertisements give us insights into American culture at different time periods. It’s clear from this ad, that woman with a health body size, as seen as the model figure. I suspect from the hard work included in a woman’s typical day, a thin woman was seen as fragile. Who’d marry a woman couldn’t hall around the laundry basket or beat the living room rugs?
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com