March’s What I’ve Been Reading (& Writing) Report

As I mentioned, I’m downsizing; so lately, I’ve primarily been focused on listing in our Etsy shops. (1, 2, and, now, 3.) This has led to lots of posting at Things Your Grandmother Knew and Kitschy Kitschy Coo. (But don’t worry, the next stack of ephemera has plenty of “women’s issues stuff”, so then this blog will be busy. To everything, there is a season…)

lgbt antique rppcOne of the more rare items I am parting with is this antique real photo postcard featuring two female couples. I’m rather certain this is a legit “lesbian interest” photo, as it is called in the trade, and not some mere drag party of the past. However, without any living folks to tell the tale, it is hard to say definitively. There is a certain combination of affection and defiance as opposed to the hamming it up for the cameras which is usually found in ye olde crossdressing and drag parties and films of yore.

This reminds me of the fact that many sellers will call any photo of same-sex folks being affectionate as LGBTQ history. Rather than rant about that, I will simply direct you to where others have done a good job covering the issue: Brothers In Arms (NWS), naked Vintage Soldiers (NWS), and Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch. (It is perhaps no surprise that all of this talk involves men, not women, but then “everyone loves a lesbian.” …Well, almost everyone. Everyone does love Lincoln, however.)

Yes, I’m still Tumblr-ing and Scooping. (You might mostly be interested in what goes on at the women Tumblr tag and the Herstory & Dare To Be A Feminist topics.) But I have still managed to make a bit of time for reading…

What I’ve been reading:

the-minnesota-connectionMy friend Gracie compares the past and present of sex trafficking: 1978’s The Minnesota Connection Vs 2015’s Trafficked: The Exploitation Of Women & Girls In The Bakken & Beyond. (Oh, sure, North Dakota, sex trafficking gets coverage, including a 30 minute news documentary; but the environmental damage being done in the Bakken and the related train bombs notsomuch. The legislation is even worse.)

Speaking of politics… Oh, if only!

Yes, as a collector of vintage magazines, I am very aware that little has changed in beauty ads.

At ErosBlog, Bacchus discusses (NWS) this article at The New York Times. (See also my earlier article: Grandma Was A Swinger: Estate Sales & The Ephemera Of Women’s Lives.)

That’s it for now; time to make the donuts get back to work listing the collectibles.

“Topknot Troubles”

If you collect vintage magazines and ephemera like I do, you know there’s nothing new under the sun. The celebrity names & faces change, there’s “modern” graphics and trends too. But the push on beauty and grooming products remains true. This little bit comes from Beauty On A Budget, a promotional piece for hair & beauty products (copyright 1957 The Gillette Co.). The illustrations may be period, and the kitschy-cute names too, but the tips on treating your hair problems are rather straight out of any beauty column today. Meet Harriet Haystack, Olivia Oilwell, Selma Snowfall, Cora Cornsilk, Barb Wire, and Delia Droop — “six sisters with vexing hair problems.”

beauty on a budget hair problems

Despite their hair problems, most if not all of the sisters must have gotten married as they all have different last names! Perhaps that’s because they were lucky smart enough to watch Gillette’s helpful film, a Toni Company’s color movie entitled Heads Up For Beauty. It included pointers from “famous beauty consultant” Carol Douglas — and those pointers helped Ann Watson “change from an unattractive girl into a radiant bride by improving her personal grooming.” One prays to the YouTube gods for someone to find and put this movie up online.

1957 beauty

Bad Hair Is No Joke (Or, Hairy Situations In Racism & Misogyny)

I have not been doing a lot of “link round-up” posts since I’ve been curating at Scoop.it, but sometimes I will still find a thing or two which will spawn so many quick thoughts that it seems best to fire all the rounds in one quick-draw post. That’s certainly the case today as one vintage image and one blog post have me quickly shooting from the hip.

Via this post at Doc Blue’s Bullshit Emporium, I found this vintage ad for Jeris Hair Tonic at Retro Adverto. Along with the horrid ad copy, there’s the racist and gender obscene headline:

“I Knew,” Said The Sioux, “That Squaws Would Go For His Scalp”

jeris-hair-tonic-racist-vintage-ad-1955

I don’t know that I actually have to beat all the dead horses in this vintage ad, do I? With so much horribleness going on, it’s hard to imagine that Jeris would survive; but the company — and it’s hair tonic — is still around today. I do hope they die a little on the inside whenever this ad is resurrected.

While we are on the subject of hair…

Lip Mag has a piece on hair: crowning glory: hair, sex and gender. My profound dislike for the absence of capitals in headlines aside, the post is rather provocative and worthy of a good read. However, it is a bit incomplete. I don’t think it is proper to discuss or rant about such things as “long and blonde” being the ideal femininity standards for women’s hair without pointing out that there are some biological reasons for this.

Often, “beauty” is really just about genetics, healthy children, and the survival of the species. Long hair is a sign of health, and health is genetically preferred. Lighter hair, especially blonde hair, is often an indicator of youth and therefore fertility. The fair skin which typically, naturally, accompanies the blonde hair also makes it easier to see signs of disease, infestation, infection, and the like. Such blemishes are signs of genetic weakness, aging, or other potential problems with the viability of offspring. This is all hardwired into humans biologically. It’s primal evolution. This is why fake blondes enjoy the same attention as natural blondes; for even when everyone knows they’re seeing a bleach-bottle-blonde, the sight triggers an unconscious response of, “Yes, this is preferred genetic material.” This biological drive is what is sets many “beauty standards”. And since blondes, especially the light-white-skinned and blue-eyed variety, are fewer in numbers, their rarity is akin to “coveted and collectible”. [After decades of hair styles, lengths, and colors I know (NWS) that blondes do have more fun — if by “fun” you mean “attention.” Not all of it positive, either; especially when the attention is from other women (NWS). Women hating or deriding blondes, real or fake, is like any other body shaming issue and should be stopped.]

While genetics and evolution are typically not conscious thoughts in the process of calling someone “beautiful” or “attractive”, there are many recorded acts of using beauty standards as markers for desirability in gender and race. From the Bible and organized eugenics programs to the less organized attacks of societal judgements (NWS), history shows that women have been — and continue to be — judged, humiliated, marked, and controlled by their hair.

This brings be back to the aforementioned issue of “scalping” and how I often feel that the current trend in removing the pubic hair of women is not unlike the “pussy scalping jokes” of the past (NWS). It’s not only racist, but all about controlling women and their bodies.

Lashes For The Feminist Movement

Picture the scene… It’s 1974 and those women’s libbers are everywhere. Before you know it, those damn women will have screwed up everything. Hell, we won’t even be able to tell the boys from the girls. Oh my gawd, what about the children?! How do you combat it? Big Fluttery Lashes.

The amazingly-trademarked Big Fluttery Lashes were copyrighted in 1974, by Imagineering Inc., Phoenix, Arizona (but made in Hong Kong).  The lashes sold for 39 cents and they were safe & non-toxic (unless you’re under the age of three).

And good news, boys; if you were caught with one on your upper lip (or simply caught with the package), you could simply say it was a mustache — the package even says so!

Image via Tiki Ranch.

It’s 1936: How Badly Do You Want To Be In Moving Pictures?

So you want to be a glamorous Hollywood star, hmm? Well, it’s time to get beautiful, baby!

Have a few extra pounds, but exercise is leaving you without your pep? Did dieting only take the weight off of your face and neck, leaving you feeling irritable and looking like a scarecrow? Did diet pills take too much weight off, leaving you without your feminine curves? What’s a woman to do?!

Well, if it was 1936, you’d have The Roving Reporter to help you. But then, she’d be stuffing you into a girdle. Like a sausage maybe even.

Apparently it takes a long time to get you into this girdle; you have 10 days to lose 3 inches — or is that 3 pounds in 10 days? The ad states both… Maybe that’s the way around the money-back offer; confusion.

The good news is that the Perfolastic Girdle also massages you. I can’t imagine how… Damn, now I can’t stop imagining it. Ack!

Meanwhile, as your nether-regions sweat it out, your hair is breezing through life.

In that same 1936 issue of True Confessions, an ad for the “Air-Conditioned” Hollywood Rapid Dry Curler:

Hollywood stars like Jane Hamilton fawn over these curlers — likely that’s what they used to set their hair (while sitting in girdles), preparing for a chance to get in the movies. Which is exactly what the next ad from this vintage magazine is about.

Hey, little girl, step into my truck and I’ll make you a star!

Super Bonus Points for the talent truck to be sponsored by The Hump Hairpin Mfg. Co. (makers of Hold-Bob bobbypins).

My mom would totally kick my ass if I went near that truck.