By Tom Dare
AN ADVERT FROM THE 1940s which makes a point of criticising a woman for not reaching certain standards of dress has remerged this week, as the debate over sexism in Hollywood continues.
The advert, created in 1948 as a way of informing people about proper hygiene and dress sense, features a young man who is unable to enjoy himself as he worries about exam season at school.
The narrator encourages him to get his head out of his books and take a look at the world around him and, as he does so, he sets eyes on a pretty young lady walking past.
However, according to the narrator, the woman’s appearance is far from up to scratch, and he proceeds to pick apart how she is dressed in a particularly harsh manner.
“But wait a minute young lady,” he says to her.
“How did you get into this picture?
“You see, we’re trying to prove a point about nature and beauty, and you’re not exactly helping y’know?
“Look at your hair. Look at that blouse. And the way that skirt hangs. And those socks.
“Sorry, there must have been a mistake. You don’t seem exactly the type to make this guy behave like a human being.”
However, after the man goes to walk away, the woman miraculously transforms all of the areas of her appearance which had not been up to standard before. The man returns, with a cursory “oh brother,” as he takes in the way the woman now looks.
“Oh brother is right,” says the narrator.
“Look at that hair. That skin. That mouth.
“And now look at that blouse. And now look at the skirt. And the socks.
“Thanks a lot for helping us prove a point.”
Despite taking on an active role on the home front during the war, women were once again seen as homemakers and housewives in both Britain and America once the war had come to an end.
This meant keeping up impeccable appearance and hygiene, with men rarely held to the same standard due to their traditional role as the ‘breadwinner’.