Advertising in the 1950 's sold an unobtainable perfect, hazy, dream-like life to everyone - but for women, the ridiculous expectations for everyday life were set higher and higher. Women were expected to be glamours and well groomed whilst also being hard-working housewives and mothers who were expected to have dinner on the table for the time their husbands came home from work, no exception. In this essay, I will be challenging these ideas and stereotypes by using examples of real women in the UK in the 1950s and looking at what their lives were really like compared to the hazy dream world that advertising had created. The writers I will be discussing include Viriginia Nicholson and Barbara Cartland among others, and I will be using their works to evaluate whether the reality of UK life for women in the 1950 's really was all that it was made out to be by the glamorous advertising imagery.
This advertisement for Palmolive Soap (right) both reinforces the stereotype of flawless, glamorous housewives whilst also debunking the stereotype that their lives were perfect. The advert reads, 'Most men ask 'Is she pretty? ' not 'Is she clever? '. We can, of course, now assume this advert is directed towards a female audience (as society was very heteronormative in the 1950 's). We can also see a picture of a well made-up woman, turned away from her vanity mirror to look at us as if she is showing us how she is the type of woman that a man would desire and how the female viewer should aspire to look.
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...e it insinuates that a woman 's body is just made naturally to look the way it does in this depiction, whereas in reality there were, and always have been and will be, women of all different shapes and sizes in the 1950 's. Women 's bodies were picked at just as they are now and, as Barbara Cartland says about women – 'they all them know that unless they can capture a husband and have child they have failed – as a woman '. This is essentially putting all of the worth of a woman on whether she is “perfect” enough to 'capture a husband ' or not, insinuating that if she isn 't then she has no worth and no value as a person otherwise simply because of her gender.
In the 1950 's, many instruction books were produced for the purpose of guiding young women on how to snag the perfect man and how to stay perfectly beautiful. These more often than not contained ridiculous
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