With a diet industry worth $60 billion in the U.S. alone, it is near impossible to imagine a world when being skinny was a bad thing. But these ads, published in magazines and newspapers from the 1930s to the 1960s show how weight gain was aspired to then as earnestly as we today aspire to weight loss.
During the middle decades of the 20th century, being too skinny was a problem that women worried about. And Wate-On was there to help them achieve the “glamorous curves” of “popular” girls. Demonstrating an attitude that could not be more far removed from the current vogue for size zero, the ads promote supplements promising speedy weight gain for a sexier body.
While there is clearly a stark difference in desired body shape – 1940s and ’50s women aspired to slim waists with full chests and hips, while today’s pilates-honed ideal cuts a leaner silhouette – the current obesity crisis indicates that we should probably be taking a dietary lead from the past.